Tidbits on September 26, 2006
Bob Jensen

Foliage Network --- http://www.foliagenetwork.com/default.php
Foliage in New Hampshire's White Mountains --- http://www.nhliving.com/foliage/index.shtml
Fall Foliage --- http://gonewengland.about.com/cs/fallfoliage/l/blfoliagecentrl.htm
Foliage Pictures --- http://photo.net/travel/us/ne/foliage

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.


Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Presentations   

 

Click here to search this Website if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/


Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )

Zaba Search free database of names, addresses, birth dates, and phone numbers. Social security numbers and background checks are also available for a fee --- http://www.zabasearch.com/




Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

San Francisco is known for its lenient Judges and liberal Supervisors. The S.F. Chief of Police accuses the Judges and Supervisors of having no accountability and calls the San Francisco Chronicle a piece of crap ---http://mfile.akamai.com/12948/wmv/vod.ibsys.com/2006/0728/9591734.300k.asx

Condoleezza Rice kept her cool and poise during interview by Katie Couric on Sixty Minutes, September 24, 2006 --- Click Here
She's got real class on top of graduating Phi Beta Kappa at age 19 followed by earning a PhD and becoming both a tenured political science professor and the Provost at Stanford University  before becoming the current U.S. Secretary of State. She's faced terror, bigotry, and adversaries since she was five years old. She's a classical pianist on top of everything else. Dr. Rice is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Morehouse College in 1991, the University of Alabama in 1994, the University of Notre Dame in 1995, the Mississippi College School of Law in 2003, the University of Louisville, Michigan State University in 2004, and Boston College Law School in 2006 --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condoleezza_Rice#Academic_career

Pixsy (Variety Photos and Films) --- http://www.pixsy.com/

National Institutes of Health: Radio --- http://www.nih.gov/news/radio/index.htm

The Living History Farm --- http://livinghistoryfarm.org/index.html

NBC launches online video venture, hoping to reclaim viewers ---
http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17496

Smuggler Site --- http://www.smugglersite.com/mov/stylewar_inthisworld.mov

Make your own kaleidoscope --- http://www.zefrank.com/shelda/

Friendship Puzzle --- http://www3.telus.net/public/a7a55952/friendship-puzzle/friendship-puzzle.htm

Pat her on the head and tickle her tummy --- http://www.broenink-art.nl/maukie2.swf


Free music downloads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/music.htm

Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings (video with a shore commercial in front) --- http://www.pixsy.com/search.aspx?q=Willie Nelson
There are great selections at the above link!
Other video features http://www.pixsy.com/

Four-year old drummer boy --- http://www.usefulconcept.com/index.cfm/2006/9/18/kickin-the-drums

Home Sweet Home: Life in 19th Century Ohio --- http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cocoon/ihas/html/ohio/ohio.html

Mixmatcher --- http://www.mixmatcher.com/

From the Church to the Tavern and Back (Johnnie Paycheck) ---
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6063412

Defining 'Jique' as Something Lithe and Worldly --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6062842

A Poppy Rock Band Discovers Hints of Metal --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5783211

The Galaxy Song (from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life) --- http://www.gecdsb.on.ca/d&g/astro/music/Galaxy_Song.html

Young Tuba Player Gets Nod from Phila. Orchestra --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6077977

From 'Popeye' Doyle to Puccini: William Friedkin --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6070626

Barenaked Ladies in Concert (entire rock concert)--- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6063654

How To: keep your iTunes library on an external hard drive ---
http://www.tuaw.com/2006/09/19/how-to-keep-your-itunes-library-on-an-external-hard-drive/


Photographs and Art

Foliage Pictures --- http://photo.net/travel/us/ne/foliage

Top World Press Photos (across 50 years) --- Click Here
http://www.worldpressphoto.nl/index.php?option=com_photogallery&task=blogsection&id=15&Itemid=115&ba

American Art Archives --- http://www.americanartarchives.com/ludlow.htm

The Oops List --- http://www.micom.net/oops/

Making the First Disk Drive --- http://news.com.com/2300-1015_3-6110361-1.html

PHOTOSHOP Matte Painting (do it yourself)  --- Click Here

The Keith Haring Foundation was established in 1989 to assist AIDS-related and children's charities, and maintains the largest resource of archives on the late artist, Keith Haring --- http://www.haring.com/

Flickr Color Selectr --- http://color.slightlyblue.com/

Antique Maps - Old Maps - Vintage Maps --- http://www.helmink.com/

Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages --- http://www.iisg.nl/~landsberger/

Clare Coles' Female Persuasion Site (for female artists) --- http://www.femalepersuasion.net/

Large collection of travel photographs and some travel writings by Frantisek Staud --- http://phototravels.net/

Jellyfish --- http://flickrville.com/

 


Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

Representative Poetry On-line --- http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/display/index.cfm

The Literature Network --- http://www.online-literature.com/

Craftzine (for arts and crafts) --- http://www.craftzine.com/

Literature.org --- http://www.literature.org/ 

Literature Project --- http://www.literatureproject.com/

The Tragedy Of Pudd'Nhead Wilson by Mark Twain (1835-1910) --- Click Here

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1866-1946) --- Click Here

Shakespeare Insult Kit --- http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/shake_rule.html

Bethlehem (Steel) Digital History Project http://bdhp.moravian.edu/home/home.html 




Guess what clears out (sadly) the neighborhood about as fast as a tornado?
Over the past six months, landowners here have been clear-cutting thousands of trees to keep them from becoming homes for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. The chain saws started in February, when the federal Fish and Wildlife Service put Boiling Spring Lakes on notice that rapid development threatened to squeeze out the woodpecker . . . Hoping to beat the mapmakers, landowners swarmed City Hall to apply for lot-clearing permits. Treeless land, after all, would not need to be set aside for woodpeckers. Since February, the city has issued 368 logging permits, a vast majority without accompanying building permits.
"Rare Woodpecker Sends a Town Running for Its Chain Saws," The New York Times, September 23, 2006 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
Bad news always travels faster than good news. This supports the argument that some government information should be classified.


Question
What country is the largest oil producer in the world?
Hint:  It's not Saudi Arabia.

There has generally been a lot of truth in that perception, as Saudi Arabia has for years topped the list of the world’s oil producers. But those not attuned to the finer points of the oil market may have missed a shift in the rankings over the summer, as Russia sneaked past the Saudis to top the list, with a six-month average of 9.37 million barrels a day, compared with 9.32 million for the ex-champ. (OPEC over all, of course, still dominates, with 29.5 million of the world’s 73.5 million barrels.)
Hubert B. Herring, "Who Produces the Most Oil? Not Who You Think," The New York Times, September 17, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/17/business/yourmoney/17count.html?ref=business


Thieves respect property; they merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.
G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._K._Chesterton

Harvard University’s endowment — the largest in the United States — earned a 16.7 percent return in the year ending June 30, 2006, bringing its value to $29.2 billion.
Inside Higher Ed, September 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/20/qt

Scientists have long said the only way to restore Louisiana’s vanishing wetlands is to undo the elaborate levee system that controls the Mississippi River, not with the small projects that have been tried here and there, but with a massive diversion that would send the muddy river flooding wholesale into the state’s sediment-starved marshes. And most of them have long dismissed the idea as impractical, unaffordable and lethal to the region’s economy. Now, they are reconsidering. In fact, when a group of researchers convened last April to consider the fate of the Louisiana coast, their recommendation was unanimous: divert the river.
Cornealia Dean, "Time to Move the Mississippi, Experts Say," The New York Times, September 19, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/19/science/19rive.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

“Democrats vow not to give up hopelessness” ran a spoof headline in The Onion.
Tim Reid, "Will Democrats squander best chance for a decade?" London Times, September 22, 2006 --- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2369426,00.html

It is better for civilization to be going down the drain than to be coming up it.
Henry Allen as quoted in an email message from Aaron Konstam

History: an account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
Ambrose Bierce (1842 1914) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambrose_Bierce

The "mainstream media presents itself as unbiased, when in fact there are built into it many biases, and they are overwhelmingly to the left." The man who made that comment is not some rabid right-wing critic but Thomas Edsall, a Washington Post political reporter for a quarter-century who recently accepted an early retirement offer.
Howard Kurtz, "Chris Wallace, Caught Off Balance?" The Washington Post, September 25, 2006; Page C01 ---
Click Here

San Francisco is known for its lenient Judges and liberal Supervisors. The S.F. Chief of Police accuses the Judges and Supervisors of having no accountability and calls the San Francisco Chronicle a piece of crap A video of his public announcement is at ---http://mfile.akamai.com/12948/wmv/vod.ibsys.com/2006/0728/9591734.300k.asx

When the Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic left office in October 2000, he was felled not by NATO's bombs but by his own police and soldiers' refusal to enforce his orders. For nearly a decade, a merry band of militants called Otpor ("Resistance") had been treating his regime to a mix of Gandhian disobedience and Yippie-style pranks, planting the seeds of rebellion across the country and helping assemble a broad, nonviolent anti-government coalition. When Milosevic refused to acknowledge that he had lost the 2000 election to Vojislav Kostunica, the opposition called a general strike. For a taut description of what came next, turn to Nonviolent Struggle: 50 Crucial Points, a new book by three veterans of Otpor, Srdja Popovic, Andrej Milivojevic, and Slobodan Djinovic:.
Jesse Walker, "The 50 Habits of Highly Effective Revolutionaries The third wave of nonviolent revolt," Reason Magazine, September 21, 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/links/links092106.shtml

The U.S. Army's top officer withheld a required 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders last month after protesting to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the service could not maintain its current level of activity in Iraq plus its other global commitments without billions in additional funding. The decision by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, is believed to be unprecedented and signals a widespread belief within the Army that in the absence of significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, funding assumptions must be completely reworked, current and former Pentagon officials said . . . The Army, with an active-duty force of 504,000, has been stretched by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. About 400,000 have done at least one tour of combat duty, and more than a third of those have been deployed twice. Commanders have increasingly complained of the strain, saying last week that sustaining current levels will require more help from the National Guard and Reserve or an increase in the active-duty force.
Peter Speigel, "Army Warns Rumsfeld It's Billions Short," L.A. Times, September 24, 2006 --- Click Here

Freedom and Justice in Islam” Bernard Lewis Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, Imprimis, September 2006 --- http://www.hillsdale.edu/imprimis/
This is a great summary of the history of the Middle East and alternatives for the future.

Bernard Lewis, born and raised in London, studied at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, where he earned a Ph.D. in the history of Islam. After military and other war service in World War II, he taught at the University of London until 1974 and at Princeton University until 1986. He is currently Princeton's Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies. For many years he was one of the very few European scholars permitted access to the archives of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. In addition to his historical studies, he has published translations of classical Arabic, Turkish, Persian and Hebrew poetry. Professor Lewis has drawn on primary sources to produce more than two dozen books, including The Arabs in History, What Went Wrong? and The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror.

. . .

So there is a good deal of pro-Western and even specifically pro-American feeling. But the anti-American feeling is strongest in those countries that are ruled by what we are pleased to call “friendly governments.” And it is those, of course, that are the most tyrannical and the most resented by their own people. The outlook at the moment is, I would say, very mixed. I think that the cause of developing free institutions—along their lines, not ours—is possible. One can see signs of its beginning in some countries. At the same time, the forces working against it are very powerful and well entrenched. And one of the greatest dangers is that on their side, they are firm and convinced and resolute. Whereas on our side, we are weak and undecided and irresolute. And in such a combat, it is not difficult to see which side will prevail.

I think that the effort is difficult and the outcome uncertain, but I think the effort must be made. Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us.




Our lives end the day we become silent about things that really matter.
Martin Luther King (1929-1968) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King

The problem with heated words now is that it's not the old world anymore. In the old world, incompetent governments dragged cannons through the mud to set up a ragged front . . . Now every nut and nation wants, has or is trying to develop nukes.
"The World Is as Hot as the Devil," by Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2006; Page P12 ---
Click Here

He broadened his claimed base. Chávez made the argument that it is not America versus Saddam or America versus terrorists but the American Empire versus all the yearning people of the world. He claimed as his constituency everyone unhappy with the unipolar world.

He acknowledged a particular reality by putting distance between the current administration and the American people. This is not so much new as shrewd, and telling. It is an unacknowledged fact known to every diplomat in the world that the people of the world like Americans. Old Europe and new, Africa, people on the ground all over, have some acquaintance with the particular American character of openness and generosity. We turn our faith, and guilt at good fortune, into do-gooding. We send money, bring bandages and overtip. The world has met us. (This by the way is our biggest foreign-policy strength.) Those who attack America are forced to speak highly of Americans, and Chávez did, which allows him to reach potential new allies here. People don't mind being told they are very fine but their government is very wicked. He gave new cover to critics of America. Jacques Chirac to Condoleezza Rice the next time he throws a snare: "You think I'm bad? Chávez would kill you!"

America has seen this before, seen Khrushchev bang his shoe on the table and say "We will bury you." We grew up watching our flag being burned on TV. So it's tempting to think this is part of a meaningless continuum.

But the temperature of the world is very high, and maybe we're not stuck in a continuum but barreling down a dark corridor. The problem with heated words now is that it's not the old world anymore. In the old world, incompetent governments dragged cannons through the mud to set up a ragged front. Now every nut and nation wants, has or is trying to develop nukes.

Harsh words inspire the unstable.

Coolants are needed. Here is an idea. Don't try to ignore Chávez, answer him. With the humility that comes with deep confidence, with facts, and with some humor, too.

There is an opportunity for the Democratic Party. Some Democrats responded with spirited indignation the day after Chávez spoke, and it was rousing. But Chávez's charges were grave, and he claimed America's abuses could be tracked back a century. If the Democrats seek to speak for America, why not start with a serious and textured response, one that isn't a political blast-back but a high-minded putting forward of facts? This would take guts, and farsightedness. Rebutting a wild-eyed man who says you can find redemption reading Noam Chomsky is a little too much like rebutting a part of your base.

As for the administration, it is so in the habit of asserting, defending and repeating, it barely remembers how to persuade and appeal. It speaks starkly and carries a big stick. It feels so beleaguered on a daily basis, and so snakebit, that even its mildest players have taken refuge in gritting their teeth and tunneling on. They take comfort in this: They think Chávez helps them. See what we're up against? But that's not a response, it's a way not to respond. It doesn't help, because it doesn't even try to cool things down. Which is no good, because the temperature of the world is very high.

Ted Turner Urges More Balance in Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Often contrarian, Turner called it a "joke" that Bush demanded that Iran abandon any ambitions for nuclear weapons while at the same time hoping to ban all such bombs. "They're a sovereign state," Turner said of Iran. "We have 28,000. Why can't they have 10? We don't say anything about Israel -- they've got 100 of them approximately -- or India or Pakistan or Russia. And really, nobody should have them.
"Ted Turner says Iraq war among history's "dumbest," Reuters, September 20, 2006 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
What a stupid comment! Nations having nukes will not willingly destroy all of them unilaterally. Fortunately, those nations that have nukes are not knowingly plotting complete annihilation of another country (like Israel). Secondly, those nations that have them, aside from North Korea, are not threatening to sell them to a rogue regime or to really dangerous sociopaths unless the rest of the world pays enormous extortion fees. Since we cannot see a way to take nukes away once a nation has weapons of mass destruction, should we adopt a policy of spreading them around to every dangerous nations bent on invasion of other nations and/or extortion criminality? Nice going Ted! Perhaps  Hugo Chavez should have at least 10 nukes as well since he's much more within missile range for an attack on the largest cities in the U.S., including your prized Atlanta Ted.
You can read more about Ted Turner at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Turner

Thanks Ted:  Here's What You Can Anticipate if Iran Gets Its 10 Nukes
From "Iran leader's U.N. finale reveals apocalyptic view Ahmadinejad evokes return of messianic Islamic 'madhi'," WorldNetDaily, September 21, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52071

The last two paragraphs of (Ahmadinejad's U.N.) remarks revealed his steadfast and driving conviction, as previously reported in WND ,that a messianic figure, known as the "Mahdi" to Muslims, is poised to reveal himself after an apocalyptic holocaust on Earth that leaves most of the world's population dead.

"I emphatically declare that today's world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet," Ahmadinejad said. "Oh, Almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause."

With Iran on the verge of producing nuclear weapons and already in possession of sophisticated medium-range missiles, mystical pre-occupation with the coming of a Shiite Islamic messiah is of particular concern because of Iran's potential for triggering the kind of global conflagration Ahmadinejad envisions will set the stage for the end of the world.

Ahmadinejad is on record as stating he believes he is to have a personal role in ushering in the age of the Mahdi. In a Nov. 16, 2005, speech in Tehran, he said he sees his main mission in life as to "pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his reappearance."

Thanks Ted:  Now Egypt Wants at Least 10 Nukes for the Sunni Side of Things
The conclusion is hard to resist that the U.N. effort is really about persuading America that it can "live with" an Iranian bomb, just as it lives with a Pakistani bomb, because the costs of economic sanctions or military strikes are supposedly prohibitive. But a glimpse of what the world will look like if Iran succeeds was provided on Tuesday by Gamal Mubarak, the son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Cairo's heir apparent floated a proposal for Egypt to develop its own nuclear programs, clearly a signal that the largest Sunni Arab country will go nuclear itself to prevent Shiite Iran from dominating the region. And where Egypt goes, Saudi Arabia and Turkey cannot be far behind. Is the international system really prepared to live with five, maybe six, nuclear powers in the Middle East?
"U.N. Charades:  After the Shiite bomb, a nuke for Sunni Egypt?" The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008978 




If Chavez and Ahmadinejad made a mockery of the U.N., it was only because the U.N. has made a mockery of itself.
"U.N. Charades:  After the Shiite bomb, a nuke for Sunni Egypt?" The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008978 

"It smells of sulfur still today," said Venezuela's screwball strongman, Hugo Chavez, in a speech before the U.N. General Assembly. "Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. "Representatives of the governments of the world, good morning to all of you. First of all, I would like to invite you, very respectfully, to those who have not read this book, to read it. Noam Chomsky, one of the most prestigious American and world intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, and this is one of his most recent books, 'Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States.'" [Holds up book, waves it in front of General Assembly.] "It's an excellent book to help us understand what has been happening in the world throughout the 20th century, and what's happening now, and the greatest threat looming over our planet. The hegemonic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species. We continue to warn you about this danger and we appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like a sword hanging over our heads. I had considered reading from this book, but, for the sake of time," [flips through the pages, which are numerous] "I will just leave it as a recommendation.
CHAVEZ DELIVERS REMARKS AT THE U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY SEPTEMBER 20, 2006, Drudge Report, September 21, 2006 --- http://www.drudgereport.com/flash2.htm
Also see http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52076
Also see NPR at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6111992

[Chavez] brandished a copy of Noam Chomsky's "Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance" and recommended it to members of the General Assembly to read. Later, he told a news conference that one of his greatest regrets was not getting to meet Mr. Chomsky before he died. (Mr. Chomsky, 77, is still alive.)
Helene Cooper, "Iran Who? Venezuela Takes the Lead in a Battle of Anti-U.S. Sound Bites," The New York Times, September 21, 2006 --- Click Here

Chávez, 52, believes it's his destiny to be the leftist David who puts the brakes on what he calls Bush's imperialist Goliath--not just in Venezuela, which has the hemisphere's largest oil reserves, but in Latin America and the world. In his eight years as President, Chávez has gone from a backwater strongman to a genuine global player, capitalizing on sky-high oil prices to spread his influence across Latin America and to win attention when he denounces the Bush Administration. That has made Caracas a hot destination for leftist tourists, bolstered Chávez's celebrity cachet--he counts Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte as friends--and made him the most visible Latin leader since Fidel Castro. But his rhetorical excesses, like his antics at the U.N., allow his critics to dismiss him as a buffoonish pretender. It was a sign of how badly his act played in New York City last week that even Democratic Representative Charles Rangel, a harsh critic of Bush's, went out of his way to tell Chávez that "you don't come into my country, you don't come into my congressional district and ... condemn my President."
Tim Padgett, "Crazy Like a Fox: How Hugo Chávez turned Bush bashing into a global political movement--backed by a lot of oil." Time Magazine, October 2, 2006 --- Click Here

Charlie Rangel and Nancy Pelosi, have publicly stated their disagreement with Chavez . . . Apparently, (Iowa's Senator) Tom Harkin didn't get the Dem memo. Harkin gave his stamp of approval to the Chavez rant.
"Chavez and the Dems' Delayed Reaction," Freedom Eden, September 21, 2006 --- http://freedomeden.blogspot.com/2006/09/chavez-and-dems-delayed-reaction.html
Also see http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52089

If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.
Winston Churchill (as quoted in Opinion Journal, September 20) --- http://www.bartleby.com/63/24/1224.html

Between 2000 and 2006 The Smile Train provided free cleft surgery for nearly 200,000 children
I find it interesting that Chavez makes headlines giving free oil to Harlem while thousands of Venezuelan children with cleft lips and palates depend upon U.S. and other medical charities to provide mobile surgical teams to provide free corrective operations. The Smile Train partnered with Rotaplast to reach out to the children of Venezuela born with cleft lip and palate. If Chavez can spread so much money around the world for media publicity, why can't he help Venezuelan children?

Bob Jensen

Question
What Venezuelans have to fear from Mr. Chávez? (this is the real "devil")
"An Uncertain Threat in Venezuela," Roger Lowenstein, The New York Times, September 17, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/17/business/yourmoney/17shelf.html?ref=business

And in fact, Mr. Kozloff’s fantasy of an America threatened by left-wing Latins is a vestige of a world that was dominated by a Moscow-Washington rivalry — a world that no longer exists. The only way Venezuela could truly stop supplying the United States with oil (which trades in a global market) would be to stop selling it to everyone, which isn’t in the cards.

THE right question is not what America has to fear from Mr. Chávez, but what Venezuelans have to fear from Mr. Chávez. The answer would seem to be plenty. He has militarized the government, emasculated the country’s courts, intimidated the media, eroded confidence in the economy and hollowed out Venezuela’s once-democratic institutions.

Mr. Chávez’s rhetoric has provided a pleasing distraction to the country’s poor, but it has not eradicated poverty. The real riddle of Venezuela today, as it was a generation ago, is why, despite its bountiful oil reserves, its fertile plains and its democratic traditions, it has been persistently unable to make an economic leap similar to that of Chile or of the various success stories in Asia. And writers who serve as cheerleaders for the failed idea of blaming America are anything but Venezuela’s friends.

"Chávez's Inferno." by Alvara Vargas Llosa, The Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2006; Page A14 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115914134454172599.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

Dante's first circle is for those who lack faith. In Chávez's Inferno, the first circle is made up of those who lack food. Cendas, a research center, maintains that 80% of Venezuelans cannot meet the cost of a basic daily diet. According to an official statistic the government inadvertently made public on the Web site of the Instituto Nacional de Estadística, between 1999, the year in which Chávez took office, and 2004, poverty rose to 53% from 43% of the population. The authorities attributed the figures to an outdated methodology and now claim the rate of poverty is 42%. If it were true, that would be embarrassing enough, because it would mean that poverty has remained at nearly the same level for eight years.

Dante's second circle is for those unable to control lust. Chávez's second circle is for those unable to control homicidal instincts. His government has degraded social coexistence so much that there have been more homicides in Venezuela during his seven-and-a-half years in office than there have been deaths in any single armed conflict around the world in recent years. Between 2001 and 2006, the number of homicides in Venezuela has been three times the number of victims in Afghanistan.

Dante's third circle is for gluttons who leave us with no food. Chávez's third is reserved for corrupt authorities who leave Venezuelans with no wealth. The major sources of corruption have been Plan Bolívar 2000, the state-owned oil company, and social programs known as "missions." Under Plan Bolívar 2000, the army took over development programs from the local governments. In the case of PDVSA, the energy giant, no one but Chávez and his cronies have access to detailed financial records. The budget for social programs, personally controlled by Chávez, is not included in any government ministry.

Dante's fourth circle is for misers. In Chávez's Inferno, the fourth circle is made up of bureaucrats who claim to provide social services but use funds to pay people to attend rallies or bust up opposition gatherings. Marino González, from Universidad Simón Bolívar, says that the "Barrio Adentro" program that purports to tend to all the pregnant women in the country only serves 2,000 expectant mothers out of a total of half a million each year. No country ever became prosperous through socialism, but for a government that claims to be able to tend to the needy, not being able to meet even 1% of the commitment is a particularly hellish sin.

Dante's fifth circle is for those who succumb to wrath. Chávez's fifth is for political persecution. Venezuela's human rights record is atrocious. Two violent incidents involving Chavista henchmen with many fatalities have gone unpunished, including the killing in April 2002 of 12 people who were protesting near the government palace. There are political prisoners such as Francisco Usón, former minister of finance in Chávez's government, who received a six-year sentence for saying he thought an incident in which a few soldiers died at Fort Mara in 2004 was no accident. Henrique Capriles, the mayor of Baruta, was jailed in 2004, accused of organizing a violent protest against the Cuban embassy which he had actually helped diffuse.

Dante's sixth circle is for heretics. Chávez's sixth circle is for heretic journalists who try to tell the truth. In December 2004, a "gag law" was imposed making it easy to prosecute journalists. The president continually threatens to withdraw TV and radio licenses -- the reason why there are no opinion programs on network TV. Government-controlled mobs called Bolivarian Circles, formed with the help of the Cuban intelligence apparatus, harass journalists.

Dante's seventh circle is for the violent. Chávez's seventh circle is another name for imperialism. His government has bought (or is buying) 100,000 AK-47s, 53 Mi-35 assault helicopters, fighter jets, transport planes, patrol boats, speedboats and Tucano jets from Russia, Spain and Brazil. Chávez is a long-time supporter of FARC, Colombia's terrorist group. He granted Venezuelan citizenship and protection to Rodrigo Granda, its "foreign minister," until Alvaro Uribe's government hired bounty hunters to bring him back to Colombia in 2005. The Venezuelan leader has given financial and political support to movements from Mexico to Bolivia. (His support for Ollanta Humala in Peru and Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico was a major factor in both men's recent defeats.)

Chávez buys influence through oil. It is a form of blackmail: At OPEC, Chávez fights for increasing prices, making life hard for poor countries that import oil, and then offers those very nations oil subsidies they have no choice but to accept. That is what happened with the 14 Caribbean countries that make up the Caricom group. He also sends 100,000 barrels of oil to Cuba daily; and 200,000 barrels to Bolivia every month in exchange for soy, poultry and political subservience. And he has bought $3 billion worth of Argentine bonds to entice President Kirchner's loyalty. Chávez is denying his nation its wealth from oil, somewhere between $40 billion and $50 billion a year. His annual "aid" budget totals more than $2 billion. He sponsors 30 countries, including some in Africa, in order to buy their vote for a seat at the U.N. Security Council.

Dante's eighth circle is for those who commit fraud. Chávez's eighth is fraudulent anti-Americanism. Chávez exports 1.5 million barrels of oil a day to the U.S. Since oil makes up half the government's revenue and the U.S. is the principal destination of Venezuelan oil, he pays daily homage to U.S. capitalism. Moreover, Venezuela imported $18 billion worth of goods and services from the U.S. in 2005. He may have signed 20 trade deals with Iran's Ahmadinejad, but what he really lusts for is U.S. capitalism. (Another type of fraud involves the electoral system. Chávez has manipulated the voter registration rolls, adding two million phantom voters, including 30,000 who are 100 years old and citizens named "Superman." Four out of five members in the Electoral Council are Chávez lackeys.)

Dante's final circle is for traitors. Chávez's ninth is for traitors, too -- and the place is getting crowded. Army officers betray Chávez every day. Labor leader Carlos Ortega recently fled with three officers from a high-security prison controlled by the army. They evaded security controls thanks to help from army personnel.

At the end of Dante's Inferno is the center of the earth, where Satan is held captive in the frozen lake of Cocytus. In Venezuela's Inferno, Satan is frozen in oil-rich Lake Maracaibo, a metaphor for astronomical wealth squandered by tyrannical populism. The journey through hell is now complete.

Mr. Vargas Llosa, author of "Liberty for Latin America" (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005), is director of the Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute.


What does the U.S. have to fear from Venezuela?
Chavez said Russia is to supply Venezuela by year's end with the first of 24 Sukhoi SU-30MK2s, Russia's most sophisticated fighter planes, and 30 Mil Mi-35 assault helicopters that were part of an arms order worth about 1 billion dollars that he placed in July during a visit to Russia.
M&C News, September 21, 2006 --- Click Here

Chavez' rant went a long way to prove conservatives correct about endemic anti-Americanism in the United Nations. Even other nations appeared stunned by the ferocity of the remarks, such as China's foreign minister, who had to ask for confirmation of his remarks out of disbelief. The warmth of the reception of these remarks provided a stunning look at the hostility that the non-democratic nations have for the United States, especially in the General Assembly. It will add fuel to the fire for conservative skepticism of the body's effect on spreading freedom and liberty around the world, which is supposed to be one of the UN's core missions.
Carol Muller, Opinion Journal, September 21, 2006


Everybody mentions the giant Hezbollah rally that took place in Beirut. The NYT—which has an astonishing picture of the rally on its front page—describes the event as an exercise in idol-worship: hundreds of thousands of eager Lebanese, waiting to see Hassan Nasrallah in person. (It was, according to the paper, Nasrallah's first public appearance since the war began.) But while the Times saves its caveats for the final paragraph, the Post article—a long front-pager by Anthony Shadid—strikes the balance earlier. "Some saw Nasrallah's appearance as a way to reinforce the notion of victory to his supporters, who bore the brunt of a 33-day conflict," writes Shadid. "Others saw it, more darkly, as a first step toward delivering the state (Lebanon) to Hezbollah." The Journal looks into Israel's response, and everyone is sure to mention the number of rockets that Nasrallah has left: 20,000.
Conor Clarke, Slate, September 23, 2006 --- http://www.slate.com/id/2150320/
Jensen Comment
Economic reality will most likely block Hezbollah from taking over Lebanon. If all of Lebanon falls completely into Hezbollah's hands the prospects for its economy are horrible. With nearly half of its own population below the poverty line, Iran cannot afford to support four million more people in Lebanon on and on from day to day. The Lebanese must develop their own economy which in the past depended heavily on Western tourism. The fundamentalist Hezbollah will ruin Western tourism in much the same way that fundamentalists in Iran ruined Western tourism. This didn't matter as much in oil-rich Iran, but it will matter a great deal in oil-starved Lebanon. Islamic fundamentalism and Western tourism mix like oil and water, something that became horribly evident on Bali. In the past, Hezbollah sustained itself on counterfeit U.S. dollars, but counterfeiting can only go so far in sustaining over 4 million people. If Hezbollah gets nukes it can adopt a strategy like North Korea is using to extort billions of dollars from the rest of the world. Lebanon should get at least ten nukes if we follow the convoluted logic of Ted Turner (see above).


Don't Call Us Violent or We'll Blow You Up
KHALED ABU TOAMEH --- Click Here

In an ABC News story by its Rome correspondent Martin Seemungal, Pope Benedict XVI was compared to an attack dog — the Rottweiler — during Seemungal’s extraordinarily biased coverage of the Muslim uprising over the Pontiff’s recent comments. At first reading, I had to remind myself I wasn’t on the Al-Jazeera News website. ABC News said: “Pope Benedict, nicknamed “God’s Rottweiler” because of his conservative views, staked out a much harder line right from the beginning.”
Jim Kouri --- http://mensnewsdaily.com/2006/09/19/abc-news-compares-pope-to-a-dog/

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' state-run television the past few weeks has broadcast a music video in which viewers are encouraged to "martyr" themselves in exchange for eternal paradise and beautiful "maidens."
Aaron Klein --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52056

Al-Qaida pleads with Muslins to leave the U.S. for protection against planned terror attacks
The new al-Qaida field commander in Afghanistan is calling for Muslims to leave the U.S. – particularly Washington and New York – in anticipation of a major terror attack to rival Sept. 11, according to an interview by a Pakistani journalist. Abu Dawood told Hamid Mir, a reporter who has covered al-Qaida and met with Osama bin Laden, the attack is being coordinated by Adnan el-Shukrijumah and suggests it may involve some form of weapon of mass destruction smuggled across the Mexican border. Our brothers are ready to attack inside America.
"Al-Qaida warning: Muslims leave U.S. --- Afghan terror commander hints at big attack on N.Y., Washington," WorldNetDaily, September 17, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52018

el-Shukrijumah is a trained nuclear technician and accomplished pilot who has been singled out by bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to serve as the field commander for the next terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

The terrorist was last seen in Mexico, where, on Nov. 1, 2004, he allegedly hijacked a Piper PA Pawnee cropduster from Ejido Queretaro near Mexicali to transport a nuclear weapon and nuclear equipment into the U.S., according to Paul Williams, a former FBI consultant and author of "The Dunces of Doomsday."

"He is an American and a friend of Muhammad Atta, who led 9/11 attacks five years ago," said Dawood. "We call him 'Jaffer al Tayyar' (Jafer the Pilot); he is very brave and intelligent. (President) Bush is aware that brother Adnan has smuggled deadly materials inside America from the Mexican border. Bush is silent about him, because he doesn’t want to panic his people. Sheikh Osama bin Laden has completed his cycle of warnings. You know, he is man of his words, he is not a politician; he always does what he says. If he said it many times that Americans will see new attacks, they will definitely see new attacks. He is a real mujahid. Americans will not win this war, which they have started against Muslims. Americans are the biggest supporters of the biggest terrorist in the world, which is Israel."

Dawood said he was currently conducting operations in Afghanistan under the leadership of the Taliban. He warned of a series of upcoming suicide bombings there directed against government and coalition forces during Ramadan.

He is also quoted as saying the next attack in America will not be conducted by people like Atta.

"We have a different plan for the next attack," he told Mir. "You will see. Americans will hardly find out any Muslim names, after the next attack. Most of our brothers are living in Western countries, with Jewish and Christian names, with passports of Western countries. This time, someone with the name of Mohamed Atta will not attack inside America, it would be some David, Richard or Peter."

He said there will be another audio message from bin Laden aired within the next two weeks.

Mir reportedly interviewed Dawood Sept. 12 at the tomb of Sultan Mehmud Ghaznawi on the outskirts of Kabul. Dawood and the al-Qaida leaders who accompanied him were clean-shaven and dressed as Western reporters. The al-Qaida commander had contacted Mir by cell phone to arrange the meeting.

"You have witnessed the brutality of the Israelis in the recent 34-day war against Lebanese civilians," said Dawood. "9/11 was a revenge of Palestinian children, killed by the U.S.-made weapons, supplied to Israel. The next attack on America would be a revenge of Lebanese children killed by U.S.-made cluster bombs. Bush and (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair are the Crusaders, and Muslim leaders, like (Pakistani President Pervez) Musharraf and (Afghani President Hamid) Karzai are their collaborators. We will teach a lesson to all of them."

El-Shukrijumah was born in Guyana Aug. 4, 1975 – the firstborn of Gulshair el-Shukrijumah, a 44-year-old radical Muslim cleric, and his 16-year-old wife. In 1985, Gulshair migrated to the United States, where he assumed duties as the imam of the Farouq Mosque in Brooklyn.

The mosque, located at 554 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, has served as a hive for terrorist activities. It has raised millions for the jihad and has served as a recruiting station for al-Qaida. Many of the planners of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, including blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, were prominent members of this notorious "house of worship."

In 1995, the Shukrijumah family relocated to Miramar, Fla., where Gulshair became the spiritual leader of the radical Masjid al-Hijah Mosque, and where Adnan became friends with Jose Padilla, who planned to detonate a radiological bomb in midtown Manhattan; Mandhai Jokhan, who was convicted of attempting to blow up nuclear power plants in southern Florida; and a group of other home-grown terrorists.

Adnan Shukrijumah attended flight schools in Florida and Norman, Oklahoma, along with Mohammad Atta and the other 9/11 operatives, and he became a highly skilled commercial jet pilot, although he, like Atta and the other terrorists, never applied for a license with the Federal Aviation Commission.

In April 2001, Shukrijumah spent 10 days in Panama, where he reportedly met with al-Qaida officials to assist in the planning of 9/11. He also traveled to Trinidad and Guyana, where virulent al-Qaida cells have been established. The following month, he obtained an associate's degree in computer engineering from Broward Community College.

During this time, he managed to get passports from Guyana, Trinidad, Saudi Arabia, Canada and the United States, according to Williams. He also began to adopt a number of aliases, including Abu Arifi, Jafar al-Tayyar, Jaafar At Yayyar, Ja'far al-Tayar, and Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan (the name that appeared on his official FBI file). He traveled to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where he met with Ramzi Binalshibh, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and other members of the al-Qaida high command. He also spent considerable time within al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, where he received training in explosives and special operations.

Following 9/11, el-Shukrijumah was reportedly singled out by bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to spearhead the next great attack on America. One plan was for a nuclear attack that would take place simultaneously in seven U.S. cities, leaving millions dead and the richest and most powerful nation on earth in ashes.

"Muslims should leave America," said Dawood. "We cannot stop our attack just because of the American Muslims; they must realize that American forces are killing innocent Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq; we have the right to respond back, in the same manner, in the enemy's homeland. The American Muslims are like a human shield for our enemy; they must leave New York and Washington."

Continued in article


Columbia Withdraws an Invitation to Ahmadinejad
Overruling a prominent dean, the president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, yesterday withdrew an invitation to the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The dean of Columbia's school of international and public affairs, Lisa Anderson, had independently invited Mr. Ahmadinejad to speak at the World Leader's Forum, a year-long program that aims to unite "renowned intellectuals and cultural icons from many nations to examine global challenges and explore cultural perspectives." In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, Mr. Bollinger said he canceled Mr. Ahmadinejad's invitation because he couldn't be certain it would "reflect the academic values that are the hallmark of a University event such as our World Leaders Forum." He told Ms. Anderson that Mr. Ahmadinejad could speak at the school of international and public affairs, just not as a part of the university-wide leader's forum.
Iliana Johnson, "Columbia Withdraws an Invitation to Ahmadinejad," New York Sun, September 22, 2006 ---
http://www.nysun.com/article/40142

Also see "The Speech That Wasn’t," Inside Higher Ed, September 22, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/22/columbia

The NYT take on this is at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/22/nyregion/22columbia.html

Jensen Comment
I am repeating a module from above because it is possible that President Bollinger did not want to provide a platform to hear  Iran's President Ahmadinejad assert his own role in instigating an "apocalyptic holocaust on Earth that leaves most of the world's population dead."

From "Iran leader's U.N. finale reveals apocalyptic view Ahmadinejad evokes return of messianic Islamic 'madhi'," WorldNetDaily, September 21, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52071

The last two paragraphs of (Ahmadinejad's U.N.) remarks revealed his steadfast and driving conviction, as previously reported in WND ,that a messianic figure, known as the "Mahdi" to Muslims, is poised to reveal himself after an apocalyptic holocaust on Earth that leaves most of the world's population dead.

"I emphatically declare that today's world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet," Ahmadinejad said. "Oh, Almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause."

With Iran on the verge of producing nuclear weapons and already in possession of sophisticated medium-range missiles, mystical pre-occupation with the coming of a Shiite Islamic messiah is of particular concern because of Iran's potential for triggering the kind of global conflagration Ahmadinejad envisions will set the stage for the end of the world.

Ahmadinejad is on record as stating he believes he is to have a personal role in ushering in the age of the Mahdi. In a Nov. 16, 2005, speech in Tehran, he said he sees his main mission in life as to "pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his reappearance."


As Taliban fighters clash with thinly spread NATO forces across Afghanistan and "suicide cell" claims lives daily in Kabul, hope is fading that the country can avoid descending into chaos.
Christian Parenti, "Chaos and Fear Stalk Afghanistan on 9/11 Anniversary," The Nation, September 11, 2006 --- http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060925/afghanistan

Finally, we must use economic leverage to ensure the Taliban no longer finds sanctuary and recruits in Pakistan. Last year we gave Pakistan only $300 million in economic support, about what we spend in a day in Iraq. We need to give more, in development funds earmarked for specific projects that help undermine radicals, and demand more in return from the Musharraf government. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past. The U.S. must not cut and run from the real front line in the war on terror. We must recommit to victory in Afghanistan.
John Kerry, "Losing Afghanistan:  We're not adequately fighting the war we should be fighting," The Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008993 

Musharraf of Pakistan says that the CIA has secretly paid his government millions of dollars for handing over hundreds of al-Qaeda suspects to America. The US government has strict rules banning such reward payments to foreign powers involved in the war on terror. General Musharraf does not say how much the CIA gave in return for the 369 al-Qaeda figures that he ordered should be passed to the US.
Daniel McGrory, "'America paid us to hand over al-Qaeda suspects'," London Times, September 25, 2006 --- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2373840,00.html
Jensen Question
Compare the two quotations shown above and then explain what the philosophical difference is between economic reward payments  tied to cooperation in handing over terrorists and "economic leverage to ensure the Taliban no longer finds sanctuary and recruits in Pakistan"? This is especially a question when in return from increased funding we should "demand more in return from the Musharraf government" according to Senator Kerry. In the entire history of crime, rewards have been offered for the capture and prosecution of criminals. Why are rewards payments supposedly banned in the war on terror?


Immigration Violence We Don't Hear Much About in the U.S. Media
Four months ago, the hostility between Sao Paulo's police and gangs erupted into violence - the result was open warfare. Tom Phillips reports from a city caught in a spiral of terror . . . Welcome to the periferia of Sao Paulo; the impoverished outskirts of one of the world's largest cities, where hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the megalopolis in search of gold-paved streets have been abandoned to their own dismal fate.

"Blood simple," The Guardian, September 17, 2006 --- http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,,1872185,00.html

The violence was unprecedented in scale, even for a city like Sao Paulo, renowned for its high crime rate. So bloody were the attacks that politicians, media outlets and academics alike have, in its wake, begun describing the start of an 'urban guerrilla war'. It is a drastic and problematic conclusion - yet one which is in many ways borne out by numerical comparisons with official war zones. During the recent 34-day conflict between Israel and Hizbollah, just over 1,000 civilians are thought to have been killed in Lebanon. In Iraq, 117 British soldiers have been killed since the country was invaded in 2003, while 23 have been killed since the beginning of August in Afghanistan. In Sao Paulo, the figures are no less startling. According to coroners' reports, at the height of May's violence at least 492 people died of gunshot wounds in Sao Paulo state in just over a week.

Two-year-old crackdown by Brazilian police on ranches, logging operations and mines reportedly has freed more enslaved workers than in previous eight years; crackdown, however, has done little to deter severe labor abuses in Sao Paulo, where thousands of undocumented immigrants from Bolivia and neighboring countries work and live in small-scale garment factories in slave conditions; Catholic Church estimates that 50,000 to 60,000 Bolivians live in Sao Paulo, mostly in gritty immigrant neighborhoods on fringe of city center
Todd Benson, "No Streets of Gold in São Paulo," The New York Times, December 2, 2004 --- Click Here

Imagine All the People --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/imagine.htm 
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the page and turn it on
The new documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon," which opens Friday Sept. 15 in New York and Los Angeles (and nationwide Sept. 29), tells the story of Lennon's transformation from loveable moptop to anti-war activist, and recounts the facts about Nixon's campaign to deport him in 1972 in an effort to silence him as a voice of the peace movement. In the film, Walter Cronkite explains that J. Edgar Hoover "had a different conception of democracy" from the rest of us; George McGovern talks about losing the 1972 election to Nixon; Sixties veterans Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, John Sinclair and Tariq Ali recall their movement days; and G. Gordon Liddy happily explains the Nixon point of view: Lennon was "a high profile figure, so his activities were being monitored."

Jon Wiener, "The US vs. John Lennon," The Nation, September 12, 2006 ---
http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion?pid=120879 


Academic Boycotts in the Name of Political Correctness

"Boycotting a Magazine’s Boycott Issue," by Scott Jaschik, Issues in Higher Ed, September 15, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/15/boycott

In the annals of academic conferences, few may have been more ill-fated than the aborted conclave on academic boycotts planned by the American Association of University Professors.

When the conference was called off in March, organizers hoped that they could salvage something good from the idea by taking papers planned for the conference and publishing them in a special issue of Academe, the AAUP’s magazine.

The issue is out, but the controversy continues. Authors who are supportive of Israel refused to let Academe publish their work, arguing that the entire effort was just an attempt to “demonize” Israel. Ironically, those who support Israel generally endorse the AAUP policy on academic boycotts, which takes the view that boycotts are almost always wrong. So the issue features considerable commentary from scholars who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and who support efforts to boycott Israeli universities — a stance opposed by the association.

Continued in article

Related stories

Bob Jensen's threads on "The Politically Correct Fracture of Academe (including sponsored boycotts of some professors)" are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#PoliticalCorrectnessFracture


Bravo Bangor
"Saying Thank You to Those Who Answered the Call of Duty," by Katie Zezima, Bangor Journal via The New York Times, September 20, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/20/us/20greeters.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Shortly before 11 on a recent Monday night, Cathy Czarnecki made sure the macadamia nut cookies were on the table of treats in a room at Bangor International Airport. The commercial passengers had all left, but 260 soldiers would soon arrive to a welcome that few of them expected.

“Here they come!” someone shouted, and a dozen or so volunteers went out into the hallway and applauded as a line of soldiers in desert camouflage and tan boots poured into the small terminal.

“Thank you for your service,” one man said to a soldier while shaking his hand. “Welcome to Maine,” another greeter said.

“I think I’m going to cry,” a female soldier said after being hugged and cheered in the terminal.

The volunteers are members of Maine Troop Greeters, which was founded in 1991 to greet troops headed to the Persian Gulf war. Since May 2003, shortly after the start of the Iraq war, the group has welcomed every military transport flight that has arrived here.

The group came about, in part, because this is the country’s easternmost airport and it has one of the longest runways in the nation, making it a favored military refueling and transfer location.

The founder of the group, Bill Knight, 84, is a World War II veteran. He recalled how soldiers were treated after Vietnam and said he wanted to ensure that troops were thanked.

“The way they treated those troops was horrible,” Mr. Knight said. “We can’t go back, but we can try to make a difference from here on out.”

Maine Troop Greeters has about 100 volunteers who operate out of the small room, which is lined with American flags, signed military T-shirts and maps of Iraq. They arrive about three hours before a flight to set out cookies donated by a local Sam’s Club, pies baked by volunteers, and candy and donuts. They also make sure free cellphones donated by local providers are available for troops to use.

The greeters here on the recent Monday night had various reasons for donating their time.

Ms. Czarnecki joined in 2004 after her son was deployed to Iraq. “It was my security blanket,” she said. “It was my way to stay connected with what was going on over there.”

Her son has returned safely, and she continues to volunteer.

Peter Jones, 51, started greeting troops here in March, shortly after his father, Freeland, died at age 82. Freeland Jones, a World War II veteran, volunteered until he was not strong enough, and his son said he felt that coming here honored both his father and the troops.

Mr. Jones said he became hooked his first day, when members of a New Jersey National Guard unit wept as greeters hugged them and shook their hands. “It lifts my spirit to know I can come out here and make a difference,” Mr. Jones said.

The plane on that Monday night brought troops from bases in California, Nevada, Utah and Washington, and was headed to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and then to the Middle East. It was the 1,774th flight greeted since May 2003, with 335,195 men and women and 35 military dogs having passed through the airport.

“Use a cellphone, call home,” Mr. Knight said as he doled them out. “Have something,” he added, motioning to the food.

Lt. Col. Eric Shalita, 43, did both, helping himself to a powdered donut after calling his wife and two daughters at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. “It was amazing,” Colonel Shalita said. “We were completely not expecting this.”

“It’s nice to know that people genuinely support us,” he added.

Staff Sgt. Stanley Siaosi, 26, was tired from the trip and missed his wife and children, who live at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. Sergeant Siaosi said the greeting made him resolute about his mission.

“This is really motivating for us to go out there and do our job,” he said. “You come here on the other side of the U.S., and there are greeters there ready to shake your hand. It gives you that patriotic feeling.”

The airport’s restaurant and gift shop stayed open late, and the troops eagerly dug into cheeseburgers and chicken fingers, some washing them down with the last Budweisers and Coronas they will have for a while.

Others sat in the terminal, chatting with the greeters about life, family and Bangor’s most famous resident, Stephen King. Some said they really like Maine, despite having never set foot outside the airport, and most vowed to come back for lobster. Two hours after the troops arrived, the beer still flowed and most of the greeters remained, eagerly chatting.

“This is really good for the young kids,” Chaplain Jeff Neuberger, 56, said as he motioned to a room filled with baby-faced soldiers. “It’s one little gesture, but the support means everything to these guys and gals.”


"Yale Creates Center on Anti-Semitism," Fox News, September 19, 2006 --- http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2006Sep19/0,4670,YaleAntiSemitism,00.html

Yale announced the creation Tuesday of the first university-based center in North America dedicated to the study of anti-Semitism.

"Increasingly, Jewish communities around the world feel under threat,"said Charles Small, director of the new Yale Initiative for Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism."I think we need to understand the current manifestation of this disease."

The center will provide a forum for scholars to research contemporary causes of anti-Semitism and ways to combat it, and will offer courses, conferences and seminars, Small said.

In a report last year, New York-based Human Rights First said racist and anti-Semitic violence was up dramatically in much of Europe.

Small is the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy, an independent nonprofit organization. He earned his doctorate of philosophy from Oxford University and has taught at the University of London, Ben Gurion University, Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


Canada is a nation of immigrants and has not been in continual hot and cold wars like the U.S. fought over the past 60 years. I once claimed that overt patriotism is likely to be more evident in nations stressed by continual war, but Canada recently is proving me wrong. Red is the color of the maple leaf in the Canadian flag.
A red wave of people -- supporters of Canadian troops -- swarmed across Parliament Hill at a Friday rally, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged more support for the military. "Let me tell you that this government is committed to rebuilding the Armed Forces of Canada," Harper said. "And we are overwhelmed with the support that we are getting to to do that." Harper was clear to point out that Canadians who wear red in support of the troops should also support the military abroad, such as the mission in Afghanistan.
Katie Lewis and Melissa Arseniuk, "A 'sea of red' unfolds as troop supporters crowd Parliament Hill," National Post, September 23, 2006 --- Click Here

$18B bolstering just a start . . . 75 aircraft on order; Planes in service now will need replacing soon; Chris Wattie National Post Friday, August 25, 2006 The head of the Canadian air force says that $18-billion and 75 new aircraft are only a start at rebuilding an air force that was at one time the fourth largest in the world. Lieutenant-General Steve Lucas told the National Post yesterday the purchases of new heavy transport planes, fleets of new helicopters and replacements for the military's Hercules cargo planes are a good beginning, but more will soon be needed.
"$18B bolstering just a start," National Post, August 25, 2006 --- Click Here

Canadians Grow Weary of Crime Leniency
Calgarians are throwing their support behind a city cop facing internal charges after lashing out at the justice system. Const. Shaun Horne said he is overwhelmed by the support of fellow police officers and the public since the Sun reported he has lost faith in the justice system after a man with 65 convictions and Canada-wide warrants was released with conditions in December by justice of the peace Kristine Robidoux. “I’m at a loss for words,” he said today. “I can’t believe the support.”
"Charged cop gets support City cop facing internal charges after lashing out at the justice system," Canada's CNews, September 14, 2006 --- http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Law/2006/09/13/1837678-sun.html


 


Water disaster in Kansas:  Farmers are draining the Ogallala aquifer's prehistoric water dry
“These are called semi-dwarfs,” he said while surveying his burnt-looking wheat stalks one recent afternoon. “Our geneticist started developing this. Generally our wheat will be about knee-high when it is harvested. It doesn’t use much energy in developing the stalks. ”For Mr. Kepley, 67, and other farmers in the heart of the Wheat Belt, the cost of energy and water are obsessive topics. Decades of irrigating crops have drained the Ogallala aquifer to dangerously low levels in some areas. And recent high prices for natural gas and diesel, which farmers need to run pumps and sprinklers that water the crops, have made irrigation prohibitively expensive.
Alexei Barrionuevo, "For Kansas Farmers, Water Is a Vanishing Commodity," The New York Times, September 16, 2006 --- Click Here

A technical link "Possible Impacts of Global Warming on the Hydrology of the Ogallala Aquifer Region," --- http://www.springerlink.com/content/n2w408r8vn35080n/

Abstract
The Ogallala or High Plains aquifer provides water for about 20% of the irrigated land in the United States. About 20 km3 (16.6 million acre-feet) of water are withdrawn annually from this aquifer. In general, recharge has not compensated for withdrawals since major irrigation development began in this region in the 1940s. The mining of the Ogallala has been pictured as an analogue to climate change in that many GCMs predict a warmer and drier future for this region. In this paper we attempt to anticipate the possible impacts of climate change on the sustainability of the aquifer as a source of water for irrigation and other purposes in the region. We have applied HUMUS, the Hydrologic Unit Model of the U.S. to the Missouri and Arkansas-White-Red water resource regions that overlie the Ogallala. We have imposed three general circulation model (GISS, UKTR and BMRC) projections of future climate change on this region and simulated the changes that may be induced in water yields (runoff plus lateral flow) and ground water recharge. Each GCM was applied to HUMUS at three levels of global mean temperature (GMT) to represent increasing severity of climate change (a surrogate for time). HUMUS was also run at three levels of atmospheric CO2 concentration (hereafter denoted by [CO2]) in order to estimate the impacts of direct CO2 effects on photosynthesis and evapotranspiration. Since the UKTR and GISS GCMs project increased precipitation in the Missouri basin, water yields increase there. The BMRC GCM predicts sharply decreased precipitation and, hence, reduced water yields. Precipitation reductions are even greater in the Arkansas basin under BMRC as are the consequent water yield losses. GISS and UKTR climates lead to only moderate yield losses in the Arkansas. CO2-fertilization reverses these losses and yields increase slightly. CO2 fertilization increases recharge in the base (no climate change) case in both basins. Recharge is reduced under all three GCMs and severities of climate change.

Jensen Comment
It has been widely known for over a half century that the huge Ogallala Aquifer was being depleted. Early on proposed solutions included building irrigation pipelines from the Great Lakes, but that proposal did not fly since Canada objected to lowering of levels of the Great Lakes.  Realistic solutions have been too little too late --- Click Here


"Global Warming: Apocalypse Now?" by Kevin Shapiro, Commentary Magazine, September 2006 --- http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article.asp?aid=12202044_1

In 1906 the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius published a popular book speculating on the origins of the earth and of life upon it. (An English translation, Worlds in the Making, appeared in 1908.) In a nutshell, Arrhenius proposed that the solar system was born of a collision between cool stars, with the sun and the planets forming from the resulting nebular debris. The planets, he thought, were then seeded by living spores that had been propelled through the cosmos by electromagnetic radiation.

Unfortunately for Arrhenius, few of these ideas ever achieved wide currency, and most of them were considered far-fetched even at the turn of the last century. One, however, has lately experienced something of a revival: the notion that the earth’s climate is maintained within bounds that are favorable to life by the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. As early as 1896, Arrhenius had proposed that surface temperatures rise in proportion to atmospheric CO2, which absorbs radiated heat that would otherwise escape into space. Noting that CO2 can be generated by the burning of coal, Arrhenius predicted that the growth of industry might eventually result in a warmer planet (in modern terms, this would be called “anthropogenic forcing”)—a salutary outcome from a Scandinavian point of view, since a more temperate climate would likely be a boon to agriculture in the North.

This “greenhouse effect” is the cornerstone of the contemporary notion of global warming.1 A hundred years after Arrhenius wrote, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has already nearly doubled, and the earth’s surface is on average about 0.6°C warmer—enough to convince many scientists and laypeople that Arrhenius was right at least about this. In 2001, the official estimate of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was that we should expect a warming of about 3°C, give or take a few degrees, in the decades ahead.

. . .

Somewhere in-between Kolbert’s measured warning and Flannery’s hysterical fearmongering lies An Inconvenient Truth. Narrated in its entirety by Al Gore, the film is part documentary, part hagiography: ominous warnings about the threat of climate change are interleaved with flashbacks to Gore’s childhood and other formative moments in the former Vice President’s career.

The movie covers much of the same ground as Field Notes and The Weather Makers, but with less concern for factual accuracy. Gore all but explicitly blames global warming for the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina; even Flannery only goes so far as to offer Katrina as an example of the kind of disaster that might become more prevalent in a warming world, and climatologists themselves are divided over whether global warming implies an increase in tropical-storm activity. In another segment, an animated polar bear is shown swimming for his life in an ice-free Arctic sea. Presumably the filmmakers resorted to animation because, in fact, most polar-bear populations are not under such imminent threat.

Gore’s overall strategy is to present the worst of worst-case scenarios as if they were inevitable, barring a miraculous reduction in atmospheric CO2. He suggests, for example, that Greenland’s ice cap is in danger of melting, which in turn would cause the jet stream to shut down—a bit like the scenario dramatized in the 2004 disaster film The Day After Tomorrow. Needless to say, most earth and atmospheric scientists consider the likelihood of such an event to be vanishingly low. Animated maps show sea levels rising to inundate Miami, New York, and Shanghai, which is more than even the most extreme predictions would seem to allow.

One might note that An Inconvenient Truth contains more than its share of ironies and curious lacunae. Gore suggests that viewers can help cut back on their own carbon emissions by taking mass transit. And yet, during much of the movie, Gore is shown either riding in a car or traveling on a plane—by himself. He berates Americans for our reliance on fossil fuels, but, chatting amiably with Chinese engineers, seems peculiarly unconcerned by Chinese plans to build hundreds of new coal-fired power plants. Indeed, he compares vehicle-emission standards in the United States unfavorably with China’s. Touting “renewable” fuels like those derived from biomass (which at present offer no carbon savings compared with traditional fuels), he does not mention nuclear power or other practical carbon-reducing alternatives to coal, oil, and gas.

In the end, An Inconvenient Truth brings nothing new to the global-warming debate, except perhaps its insistence that the “debate” is over. Its effectiveness as a film—the New York Times has called it “surprisingly engaging”—hinges, one suspects, on the degree to which the viewer is likely a priori to have a favorable view of Al Gore. Those who basically like him, or hope to see him run again for the presidency, have described his performance as earnest and energetic, and have found his appeal persuasive; Franklin Foer, the editor of the New Republic, was so impressed that he pronounced the film likely to become a “seminal political document.” To others, he comes across as a self-absorbed, condescending know-it-all.

Politics aside, however, does Gore have a point? Is it really true that the threat of climate change impels us to take action?

The data themselves—that is to say, actual observations of the earth’s climate—are hardly grounds for much excitement. For example, the fact that global temperatures and CO2 levels are correlated in the climatological record is not in itself cause for panic. Consider the “smoking gun” for many global-warming alarmists—the Vostok ice core, an 11,775-foot-long sliver of Antarctic ice that has allowed scientists to extrapolate atmospheric CO2 and temperature anomalies over roughly the past 420,000 years, showing that temperature and CO2 have risen and fallen roughly in tandem over this time frame.

But the key word here is “roughly.” The Vostok data make it clear that at the onset of the last glaciation, temperatures began to decline thousands of years before a corresponding decline in atmospheric CO2. This observation cannot be replicated by current climate models, which require a previous fall in CO2 for glaciation to occur. Moreover, an analysis published in Science in 2003 suggests that the end of one glacial period, called Termination III, preceded a rise in CO2 by 600 to 1,000 years. One explanation for this apparent paradox might be that global warming, whatever its initial trigger, liberates CO2 from oceans and permafrost; this additional CO2 might then contribute in turn to the natural greenhouse effect.

Should we worry that adding even more CO2 to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels could contribute to a runaway warming effect? Probably not. In simple physical terms, each extra unit of CO2 added to the atmosphere contributes less to the greenhouse effect than the previous unit, just as extra layers of paint applied to a pane of glass contribute less and less to its opacity. For this reason, we have already experienced 75 percent of the warming that should be attributable to a simple doubling of atmospheric CO2 since the late 19th century, a benchmark we have not yet reached but one that is frequently cited as dangerous by those who fear global warming. Moreover, it seems unlikely that we can do very much about it.

Most models, of course, predict much more warming to come. This has to do with the way they account for the effects of clouds and water vapor, which are assumed to amplify greatly the response to man-made greenhouse gases. The problem with this assumption is that it is probably wrong.

Many scientists who study clouds—including MIT’s Richard Lindzen, a prominent skeptic of climate-change alarmism—argue that the data show the opposite to be true: namely, that clouds act to limit, rather than aggravate, warming trends. In any case, the GCM’s have failed miserably to simulate observed changes in cloud cover. Flannery, to his credit, is cognizant of this criticism, and acknowledges that the role of clouds is poorly understood. By way of a response, he draws attention to a computer simulation showing a high degree of correspondence between observed and predicted cloud cover for one model on a single day—July 1, 1998. Overall, however, GCM simulations of clouds are a source of significant error.

Indeed, the models are subject to so much uncertainty that it is hard to understand why anyone would bother to get worked up about them. Generally speaking, the GCM’s simulate two kinds of effects on climate: natural forcing, which includes the impact of volcanic eruptions and solar radiation, and anthropogenic forcing, which includes greenhouse gases and so-called aerosols, or particulate pollution. But the behavior of most of these factors is unknown.

The major models assume, for example, that aerosols act to cancel warming; this effect is said to “explain” the apparent decline in global temperatures from the 1940’s to the 1970’s, when the popular imagination was briefly obsessed with the possibility of global cooling. Some scientists, however, are now claiming that the opposite is true, and that aerosols actually exacerbate warming.

Whatever the case, the impact of aerosols is so poorly understood that the term essentially refers to a parameter that can be adjusted to make the models’ predictions correspond to actual observations. Making inferences from the models about the “true” state of the earth’s climate is therefore an exercise in circular reasoning. To be sure, the business of fine-tuning GCM’s provides a livelihood for many climatologists, and may one day yield valuable insights into the workings of the earth’s climate. But the output of these models is hardly a harbinger of the end of civilization.

If the empirical basis for alarmism about global warming is so flimsy, it is reasonable to ask what can account for the disproportionately pessimistic response of many segments of society.

Part of the problem is that global warming has ceased to be a scientific question—by which I do not mean that the interesting scientific issues have actually been settled, but that many of those concerned about global warming are no longer really interested in the science. As Richard Lindzen has reminded us, the Kyoto Protocol provides an excellent illustration. Although there is widespread scientific agreement that the protocol will do next to nothing to affect climate change, politicians worldwide continue to insist that it is vital to our efforts to combat the problem of global warming, and scientists largely refrain from contradicting them.

Some have suggested that the underlying reason for this is economic. After all, public alarm is a powerful generator of science funding, a fact that is not lost on theorists and practitioners. In 2003, the National Research Council, the public-policy arm of the National Academy of Sciences, criticized a draft of the U.S. National Climate Change Plan for placing too much emphasis on improving our knowledge about the climate and too little on studying the likely impacts of global warming—the latter topic being sure to produce apprehension, and hence grants for more research. By the same token, the Kyoto process seems to lumber on in part because of the very large number of diplomats and bureaucrats whose prestige and livelihoods depend on maintaining the perception that their jobs are indispensable.

Money aside, it may be that many scientists have a knack for overinterpreting the importance of their own work. It is of course exciting to think that one’s research concerns an unprecedented phenomenon with far-reaching political implications. But not only can this lead to public misperception, it can encourage a politicization of the scientific literature itself. Scientists skeptical of the importance of anthropogenic warming have testified that it is difficult to publish their work in prestigious journals; when they do publish, their articles are almost always accompanied by rebuttals.

In fact, the scientific “consensus” on climate change—at least, as it is summarized by Gore, Flannery, and the like—includes a very large number of disparate observations, only a small number of which are pertinent to understanding the actual determinants of contemporary climate change. The fact, for example, that certain species have become scarce or extinct is frequently presented as a cause for alarm about the climate. But such ecological shifts are often the result of idiosyncratic local conditions, and in any case are largely irrelevant to the broader issue of global warming.

In recent years the issue of climate change has also been used as a tool to embarrass the political Right, and especially the Bush administration—which, after Bill Clinton declined to submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification, withdrew the U.S. signature from the pact. Although efforts to portray conservatives as insensitive to environmental issues are not new, what is new is the scope of the alleged problem, which requires not merely a targeted solution (like the phasing-out of chlorofluorocarbons in response to ozone depletion) but a radical change in our mode of energy generation and specifically a wholesale shift away from fossil fuels.

The really curious element here is that many of those who seem to have become convinced of the reality of climate change appear rather unwilling to take meaningful steps toward cleaner sources of energy. Like Flannery, they simply assert that a carbon-free economy will somehow be much more efficient and productive than one powered by fossil fuels—because, of course, we will be rid of evil and greedy energy companies, which many alarmists suspect are at the root of the problem.

Practically speaking, however, they have little to offer. Very few Democratic politicians have advocated the construction of new nuclear-power plants, a key element of the Bush administration’s energy plan and probably our best bet to avoid an increased reliance on coal. Although Senator Edward M. Kennedy (among other Democrats) signed a bill that would require the U.S. to derive 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, he has strenuously opposed a wind farm planned off the coast of Cape Cod, visible from his Hyannisport family estate.

The overall effect of these inconsistent policy goals—limiting fossil-fuel consumption without activating any viable substitutes—will be to drive up the price of energy, a move that will probably not much affect the affluent but will be quite problematic for the rest of us. Al Gore will be able to continue to crisscross the country by jet, while feeling virtuous about having encouraged the shift worker to reduce his energy consumption by using public transportation. And if the problem of global warming does not eventuate, so much the better. Alarmists will be able to reassure themselves that they have forestalled a catastrophe, even if this comes at considerable expense to the economy as a whole.

There are many good reasons to wean ourselves from a dependence on fossil fuels, not least to cease enriching unsavory regimes in places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela. But in combating climate change, we should not ignore the damage done by the proponents of global-warning themselves in diverting money and energy away from more obvious and well-substantiated problems. Unfortunately, many people seem to be more concerned with the supposed menace of global warming, about which we can realistically do very little, than with problems like infectious disease, about which we can do quite a bit. Speaking of inconvenient truths, this is a real one.


Hot Potato Politics and Border Fencing Sidesteps
For Democrats, the legislation presents a political dilemma. They must either support legislation that many consider inadequate or cast a vote that could be portrayed during campaigns as being against border security. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the deputy Democratic leader, said his party members haven't decided how they will vote on the border fence bill. "We'll wait and see how this unfolds," he said.
"Border Fence," USA Today, September 21, 2006 ---
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-09-20-border-fence_x.htm
Jensen Comment
The border fence presents a tremendous dilemma to legislators who strongly support both labor unions leaning toward more fencing and  legal/illegal Hispanic residents and seasonal-work business firms conducting huge rallies against fencing. To date leading pro-labor Senators like Tom Harkin and Dick Durbin avoid the fence issue altogether at their Websites. Durbin has not yet taken a position, and Senator Harkin does not even mention fencing in his list of Top Issues at http://harkin.senate.gov/issues/index.cfm
Powerful Senator Leahy is pressured by employers of seasonal workers in his state and has flip-flopped on the fencing issue. He voted for the initial fences that were constructed and has come out forcefully against more fencing. The fence is an enormous political hot potato in the U.S. because early experiments have shown that it is more effective than most any other tactic tried for holding back the flood of illegal immigrants.


Twenty Most Corrupt Members of Congress
Today (Sept. 20), Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its second annual report on the most corrupt members of Congress entitled Beyond DeLay: The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and five to watch). This encyclopedic report on corruption in the 109th Congress documents the egregious, unethical and possibly illegal activities of the most tainted members of Congress. CREW has compiled the members’ transgressions and analyzed them in light of federal laws and congressional rules. Two members have been removed from last year’s list of 13. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) is now serving an eight-year jail term for bribery and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) has agreed to plead guilty to crimes that will likely result in a minimum two-year prison term. CREW has also re-launched the report’s tandem website, www.beyonddelay.org . The site offers short summaries of each member’s transgressions as well as the full-length profiles and all accompanying exhibits.
"CREW RELEASES SECOND ANNUAL MOST CORRUPT MEMBERS OF CONGRESS REPORT," Beyond Delay, September 20, 2006 --- http://www.beyonddelay.org/node/96




How well do the new mobile Skype phones really work?

"Skype-Only Phones Bring a New Mobility To Free Online Calls," by Sarmad Ali, The Wall Street Journal,September 21, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/personal_technology.html

I tested three of these new Skype-compatible phones: Belkin's Wi-Fi Phone from Belkin, Free-1 Skype USB phone from Ipevo, and SkyTone RST501 cordless USB Internet phone from Radian Technologies. Overall, the three phones worked well, though often the sound quality on domestic calls to cellphones could have been better.

The Belkin phone costs $189.99, and looks like a regular cellphone. Unlike the other two phones, it doesn't hook into a computer, but instead, connects to Skype via a wireless network. That means, of course, that you need to first be in a wireless "hot spot."

The Belkin phone is shiny black and slightly bigger than an iPod mini. I toted it around New York City and used it wherever there was a reliable -- and fairly powerful -- wireless connection.

The phone has a textured back that gives it a nice grip. However, removing the back cover to insert the battery proved difficult. Charging the battery took three hours the first time, longer than I would have liked.

Unlike Free-1 and SkyTone, Belkin didn't require me to install any software on my computer. To start using it, I just turned it on, selected a language and accepted the user agreement. Then the phone searched automatically for an open Wi-Fi access point.

Logging into Skype on the phone happened just as it did on my laptop. I typed in my user name and entered my password using the keypad. I was able to view my Skype contact list, scroll up and down to select a contact, and place calls to one of them by clicking on a single button. I also used SkypeOut to call regular, non-Skype phone numbers, though that meant dialing a few more digits. I couldn't use the phone to buy SkypeOut credits to make cellphone and land-line calls, though. For that, I had to return to my PC.

I used the phone in a friend's Wi-Fi-connected apartment in Midtown Manhattan, making Skype-to-Skype calls to friends in London and Cairo. The quality was decent, a lot like making the same calls with Skype on a computer. I was also satisfied with the quality when I made land-line calls to friends in Montreal and London. And sound quality was very good when I called my family back in Baghdad.

But calls to domestic cellphones were complicated by a bit of static and a distant-sounding echo. And I could barely hear a friend in Montreal, so I had to hang up. Sometimes, it took several tries to connect to a cellphone. The problem had to have been with the Belkin, because the network was as fast as it needed to be, and because these cellphones sounded fine when I called them with regular phones.

Ipevo's Free-1 is a thin, long and light corded phone that you plug into one of your PC's USB ports. It costs $34.99, and unlike the Belkin, uses your computer's Internet connectivity to access the Skype network. Installing the Free-1 driver took less than a minute on my iBook, and figuring out how to use the phone took not much longer.

I used Free-1 to call other Skype numbers all over the world. In general, the sound quality was very good. There was also decent quality when calling cellphones; the echo and static from time to time in the background wasn't a big problem.

Because the phone is screenless, you do have to check a Skype sidebar on the computer screen to see if your calls are going through, but that's not a hassle.

SkyTone, launched last month, is a $99.99 cordless phone that comes with a base, which also is a charger. The base, in turn, connects via USB to your computer. As with the Free-1, you use your computer's Internet connection to access the Skype network. Installing SkyTone's driver took about the same time as with Free-1.

I made SkyTone Skype calls to a friend in Spain, and received Skype calls from her. The sound quality was good, though her voice sounded faint at times. Calls placed to cellphones in Montreal, Cairo, and locally to New York, were decent, but with occasional static.

The phone's buttons seem to be poorly made; you have to press hard to dial a number. Another annoyance: If you unplug the SkyTone's cord from your USB port and plug in another phone, you'll have to reboot when you plug in the SkyTone again.

I liked the Belkin best for its ease of use and its mobility. Glitches aside, it lets users take Skype with them to roam the world without being tethered to their computers.

In general, all these phones are best suited for tech-savvy talkers, especially Skype customers, whose ranks continue to grow.


One Man's Treasure is Another Man's Trash

"First penis transplant patient hated it," PhysOrg, September 18, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news77821788.html

A Chinese accident victim who became the world's first successful recipient of a transplanted penis psychologically rejected it and asked for its removal.

Surgeons at Guangzhou General Hospital said it took 15 hours of microsurgery on the unidentified 44-year-old man to attach the 4-inch organ donated by the family of a younger brain-dead patient.

In their report due to appear in next month's journal European Urology, the doctors said after 10 days, the man, who had been injured in an accident, was able to urinate normally, but he was unhappy with the operation.

"Because of a severe psychological problem of the recipient and his wife, the transplanted penis regretfully had to be cut off," said Dr. Weilie Hu.


Social/Cultural Construction of Student Cheating

September 23, 2006 message from Selsky, John (USF Lakeland [jselsky@lakeland.usf.edu]

Bob, Amazing website on cheating and plagiarism! This (attachment) may be of interest:

<<cheating-JMI2000.pdf>> I've been meaning to write additional stuff on student cheating but haven't had the time.

Regards, John Selsky

Dr. John W. Selsky
Director, Business Division
Associate Professor of Management
University of South Florida-Lakeland
3433 Winter Lake Road Lakeland, FL 33803 USA +1-863-667-7718

jselsky@lakeland.usf.edu

September 24, 2006 message from Bob Jensen to the AECM

John Selsky sent me a copy of a published paper focused on cheating:

John W. Selsky "Even we are Sheeps": Cultural Displacement in a Turkish Classroom
Journal of Management Inquiry
2000 9: 362-373.

See http://jmi.sagepub.com/content/vol9/issue4/ 

What may be of interest to you is that the above paper may be downloaded free if you download it before September 30. My download link was http://jmi.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/9/4/362
Even though John sent me a copy, I checked out this download alternative so I could pass this along to you.

This is a very interesting paper on the social/cultural construction of cheating.

Bob Jensen

Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/plagiarism.htm


Question
Why does the FDA flap come as no surprise? For decades most regulatory agencies have been overtaken by the industries that are supposed to be regulated.

The federal system for approving and regulating drugs is in serious disrepair, and a host of dramatic changes are needed to fix the problem, a blue-ribbon panel of government advisers concluded yesterday in a long-awaited report. The analysis by the Institute of Medicine shined an unsparing spotlight on the erosion of public confidence in the Food and Drug Administration, an agency that holds sway over a quarter of the U.S. economy. The report, requested by the FDA itself, found that Congress, agency officials and the pharmaceutical industry share responsibility for the problems -- and bear the burden for implementing solutions . . . "FDA's credibility is its most crucial asset, and recent concerns about the independence of advisory committee members . . . have cast a shadow on the trustworthiness of the scientific advice received by the agency," the report said. To reduce turnover and political interference, the institute said, the FDA commissioner should be appointed to a fixed six-year term. Currently, the commissioner serves at the pleasure of the president.
"FDA Told U.S. Drug System Is Broken Expert Panel Calls For Major Changes," by Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post, September 23, 2006; Page A01 --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm


Question
Why does the DEA flap come as no surprise? For decades most regulatory agencies have been overtaken by the industries that are supposed to be regulated.
Department of Education officials violated conflict of interest rules when awarding grants to states under President Bush’s billion-dollar reading initiative, and steered contracts to favored textbook publishers, the department’s inspector general said yesterday. In a searing report that concludes the first in a series of investigations into complaints of political favoritism in the reading initiative, known as Reading First, the report said officials improperly selected the members of review panels that awarded large grants to states, often failing to detect conflicts of interest. The money was used to buy reading textbooks and curriculum for public schools nationwide.
Sam Dillon, "Report Says Education Officials Violated Rules," The New York Times, September 23, 2006 --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm


"Corporate America gets 'gay'-friendlier:  Biggest names in U.S. business applauded for promoting alternative sexual lifestyles," WorldNetDaily, September 20, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52060

"I am incredibly encouraged and optimistic about the findings in this report," said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a prepared statement. "Companies are not only working to improve their scores, they are actively competing to be ranked the most inclusive and fair-minded in their industry."

He said companies that years ago instituted "basic equal employment policies" now are accelerating the expansion of benefits.

"This competition sends a clear message that corporate America is rapidly becoming a place of fairness for GLBT Americans," he said.

Continued in article

List of companies scoring perfect 100 percent from 'gay'-rights group
Also see "America's pro-homosexual giants: 2006" ---
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52052


"Is Internet Explorer More Secure than Firefox? A new model predicts that more vulnerabilities are to be found in Firefox than in Internet Explorer,? by Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, September 21, 2006 ---
http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/posts.aspx?id=17414
Jensen Comment
I've had more secure results with Firefox than IE, but this may only be due to the fact that the bad guys don't try as hard to crack the less popular Firefox. After all, bad guys always focus more on Microsoft products. One huge problem that I have with Firefox is that downloading of files is much, much slower.


Making the Leap to Interactive Whiteboards
Interactive whiteboards help you integrate digital information into teaching, presenting, and brainstorming. These easy-to-use collaboration products improve learning and meeting effectiveness by enhancing communication. They also help create an active audience engagement, which, in turn, saves you time and effort. Today’s interactive whiteboards maximize student retention and learning by using hands-on technology tools to enhance learning. The interactive whiteboard’s touch-sensitive display connects to a computer and digital projector, enabling you to control specific computer programs and write notes on the whiteboard with a special digital pen. Through the use of this cutting-edge presentation technology, you are able to write notes, insert diagrams, link to Web sites, and save your work for future use.
"Making the Leap to Interactive Whiteboards," by Denise Averill, T.H.E. Journal, September 21, 2006 ---
http://www.thejournal.com/the/newsletters/smartclassroom/archives/?aid=19277

Jensen Comment
It would seem that interactive whiteboards (with touch-sensitive displays) are a bit of a compromise between a full electronic classroom (where each student's computer screen can selectively be projected to the entire class) and hand-held response pads (where each student's numeric response, such as a multiple choice answer, can either be recorded and tabulated and/or flashed upon a screen). This newer classroom technology seems particularly adaptable to case method teaching that will allow instructors to record and display student responses. Remember the old days when case instructors spent half the time summarizing student responses on flip charts and the other half fumbling through the flip charts trying to find earlier pages.

One vendor of interactive whiteboards is Dell --- http://www.dell4k12.com/jump_page.php?jpid=679
There are many other vendors as well.


The Next Level of Open Source
Advances in Course Open Sharing for Free: 
Yale is Added in a Big Way to the List of Prestigious Open Sharing Universities

"The Next Level of Open Source," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/20/yale

On Tuesday, Yale University announced that it would be starting a version of an open access online tool for those seeking to gain from its courses. But the basis of the Yale effort will be video of actual courses — every lecture of the course, to be combined with selected class materials. The money behind the Yale effort is coming from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which was an early backer of MIT’s project, and which sees the Yale project as a way to take the open course idea to the next level.

“We want to add another dimension to open courseware,” said Catherine Casserly, a program officer at Hewlett. She said that video components used at MIT and elsewhere have been very popular with people all over the world. “We’re trying to make that bridge” to the audience for high quality American education, she said. Casserly said that Yale’s initiative — starting with seven courses this year, with plans to grow quickly — was the first open courseware effort based on lecture videos. “We hope to see this spread to other universities,” she said.

Richard Baraniuk, founder of Connexions, said he viewed Yale’s announcement as “a very positive development.” While projects at Rice and MIT “have been opening up access to educational materials and syllabi, the Yale project is opening up access to even more of the student experience, namely the in-class lecture environment,” he said.

Yale officials said that they view that in-class environment as crucial and so wanted to build their open courseware model around it. “Education is built on direct interaction, and face to face is ideal,” said Diana E.E. Kleiner, a professor of the history of art and classics who is directing the project. “That’s how we intend to teach on our campus, but also recognize that this kind of participation is not always possible, and many around the world could benefit from greater access to this kind of information we provide.

“Universities and colleges are the best keepers of that kind of information in the world, but it can be locked in a kind of vault” because only so many people can attend a given institution, or enroll in a given course, she said.

Kleiner said that Yale officers were “very admiring” of the model built by MIT, and she praised MIT as well for sharing extensive information about how its program was designed. But she said that Yale believes that course lectures “are the core content,” and need to be central. “We’re following in MIT’s footprints, but really taking a new step,” she said.

Continued in article

"Yale University to post courses on Web for free," Reuters, September 20, 2006 --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's Threads
Shared Open Courseware (OCW) from Around the World: OKI, MIT, Rice, Berkeley, Yale, and Other Sharing Universities --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

Free online textbooks and cases --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks


The Next Level of Price Gouging by Oligopoly Publishers
The debate over pricey textbooks and the practice of “bundling” supplemental materials has raged on in publishing houses, faculty lounges and dorm rooms across the country. The topic has piqued the interest of a few lawmakers. And the latest forum for discussion was Tuesday at a public hearing held by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, a nonpartisan federal panel that advises Congress on issues of access to higher education.
"Textbooks, Barriers and Aid Forms," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, September 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/20/panel

Bob Jensen's threads
Commercial Scholarly Journals and Oligopoly Publishers Are Ripping Off Libraries, and Scholars, Authors, and Students --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#ScholarlyJournals

Free online textbooks and cases --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks


DVD FAQs --- http://www.dvddemystified.com/dvdfaq.html


A Printer that Delivers 1,000 Pages a Minute?
Two researchers from The College of Judea and Samaria in Israel have designed an ink-jet printer head that could lead to printers capable of chugging out 1,000 pages per minute – or even more. The innovative printer head created by engineers Moshe Einat and Nissim Einat works in a similar way as a liquid crystal display (LCD). But while an LCD emits tiny pixels of light, collectively forming the picture on your laptop or television, their print head emits pixels of ink. Their basic design is small, but it can be reproduced and the copies combined into one large printer head.
"A Printer that Delivers 1,000 Pages a Minute?" PhysOrg, September 21, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news78058100.html


The Growth and Student Makeup of Higher Education by 2015

"Higher Ed 2015," Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, September 15, 2006 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/15/future

Enrollment in degree-granting institutions jumped by 25 percent — from 13.8 million to 17.3 million —between 1990 and 2004, and is expected to increase to nearly 20 million, a 15 percent jump, by 2015. According to the predictions, college enrollment will increase 13 percent for students between the ages of 18 and 24, and 7 percent for those 35 and older. Male enrollment will be up 10 percent; female 18 percent.

The report projects that between 2004 and 2015, college enrollments will increase:

Women will continue to dominate the higher education landscape, the department envisions. It projects that between 2004 and 2015:

Higher education isn’t the only sector seeing growth. Enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools rose 18 percent between 1990 and 2003 and is projected to increase by another 6 percent between 2003 and 2015. The number of high school graduates increased by 21 percent between 1990-91 and 2004-05 and is projected to increase by 6 percent by the 2015-16 academic year.

"New Take on the Gender Gap," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 26, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/04/26/gender

Where are the male students? Colleges are increasingly worried about the way their applicant pools and student bodies are lopsidedly female. Much of the discussion assumes that the problem (if it’s a problem) is relatively recent.
A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, however, suggests that the enrollment patterns colleges are seeing today result from much longer term shifts. In fact, the analysis — by three Harvard University economists — suggests that but for certain societal conditions that either favored men or motivated men, the gap might have been present or larger earlier.

The study starts with a review of the long-term trends in gender enrollment and notes a fact that has received relatively little attention of late: Between 1900 and 1930, male and female enrollments were roughly at parity. And relatively few of the women enrolled (about 5 percent) were at elite women’s colleges. About half were at public institutions.

Citing a range of studies, the Harvard economists suggest that women of that generation — like women today — made calculated decisions about the gains that would come from higher education. Significant numbers were seeking careers, even with the knowledge that careers and marriage were viewed as incompatible both by would-be employers and would-be spouses. Others were seeking to marry college-educated men.

A variety of factors led to the relative growth in male enrollments in the following periods. Significantly, those changes did not reflect better academic preparation by men or any falling off in college preparation by women. Among the factors cited were the increase in bans on married women working, the importance of the GI Bill as a source of funds for college for veterans — the vast majority of them men — returning from World War II, and the desire of a subsequent generation of men to avoid the Vietnam War draft by enrolling in college.

Looked at through this historic perspective, the edge that men had for many years wasn’t natural or based on academic achievement, write the Harvard economists. They call their study “The Homecoming of American College Women,” driving home the point that the trends of today reflect a return of women, not the emergence of women’s outstanding academic performance.

The high point of gender imbalance in favor of men came in 1947, when men outnumbered women on campuses by a 2.3 to 1 ratio (a far more lopsided imbalance than we are seeing today, when women make up 57 percent of enrollments nationally). Women achieved parity again around 1980 and their proportions have since been growing. In terms of women’s motivations, the arrival of the women’s movement certainly played a factor, the authors write, as more careers were open to women and women delayed or opted against marriage and/or having children.

So why today’s imbalance? The Harvard economists suggest several factors. One is that changes in societal values have meant that more women — across social classes — hold jobs for significant portions of their adult lives, or their entire adult lives. The wage differential between college-educated and non-college educated woman has always been greater than that for men, the authors write. Women are behaving with economic logic by focusing more on college, since they will spend more of their lifetimes working.

The other major factor they cite is also very simple: Women do better in high school. They are more likely to study hard, to take the right courses, and to do well in those courses than are their male counterparts. Male high school students are more likely to have behavioral problems.

As a result, the authors suggest, today’s gender gap really isn’t surprising.

An abstract of the report is available on the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Web site, where the full report may be purchased online for $5.

The authors are Claudia Goldin, Lawrence F. Katz, and Ilyana Kuziemko.

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm


"Debate Grows as Colleges Slip in Graduations," by Alan Finder, The New York Times, September 15, 2006 ---
Click Here

At Northeastern Illinois University, a tidy commuter campus on the North Side of Chicago, only 17 percent of students who enroll as full-time freshmen graduate within six years, according to data collected by the federal Department of Education. At Chicago State University on the South Side, the overall graduation rate is 16 percent.

As dismal as those rates seem, the universities are not unique. About 50 colleges across the country have a six-year graduation rate below 20 percent, according to the Education Trust, a nonprofit research group. Many of the institutions serve low-income and minority students.

Such numbers have prompted a fierce debate here — and in national education circles — about who is to blame for the results, whether they are acceptable for nontraditional students, and how universities should be held accountable if the vast majority of students do not graduate.

“If you’re accepting a child into your institution, don’t you have the responsibility to make sure they graduate?” asked Melissa Roderick, the co-director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research, which produced the study.

“I think people had absolutely no idea that our local colleges were running graduation rates like that,” Dr. Roderick said. “I don’t think we have any high school in the city that has graduation rates like these colleges.”

Northeastern’s results were particularly low among African-Americans, with only 8 percent of entering full-time freshmen earning degrees within six years.

The report, which was released last spring, examined students who graduated from Chicago public schools in 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2003. It also cited federal statistics showing that only 4 percent of all African-American students at Northeastern Illinois graduated within six years. The most recent federal data, released in August, shows the figure to be 8 percent for freshmen who entered in 1999 and would have graduated by 2005.

A federal commission that examined the future of American higher education recommended in August that colleges and universities take more responsibility for ensuring that students complete their education. Charles Miller, the commission chairman, said that if graduation rates were more readily available, universities would be forced to pay more attention to them.

“Universities in America rank themselves on many factors, but graduation rates aren’t even in the mix,” Mr. Miller said. “They don’t talk about it.”

Others say policy makers are to blame for failing to take action against public universities or administrators if most of their students fail to earn a degree.

“Most colleges aren’t held accountable in any way for their graduation rate,” said Gary Orfield, a Harvard professor of education and social policy at the Graduate School of Education. “We treat college as if the right to enroll is enough, and just ignore everything else.”

Kevin Carey, the research and policy manager at the Education Sector, a nonprofit research organization, said governors and legislatures could make it clear that the presidents’ continued employment hinged on improving graduation rates. “That’s what businesses do,” he said.

“When you have a system where virtually everyone fails, how is that different from designing a system in which the point is for people to fail?” Mr. Carey added. “No one can look at that and say this is the best we can do.”

Officials in Illinois are considering whether to provide financial incentives to universities that show progress on improving graduation rates, said Judy Erwin, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

The presidents of Northeastern Illinois and Chicago State, both part of the state university system, robustly defend their institutions. They say the universities serve a valuable mission, educating untraditional students who often take a long time to complete course work.

Many of their students are the first in their families to go to college, they said. Many come ill prepared. Often the students are older, have children and work full time.

Continued in article

Bound to Fail
We need to get serious about creating universities that are actually designed to educate undergraduates successfully

"The Wrong Conversation," by Kevin Carey, Inside Higher Ed, March 16, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/03/16/carey

The numbers are stark: Only 37 percent of college students graduate in four years, less than two-thirds finish in six. For low-income and minority students, graduation rates are even worse. This is happening at the worst possible moment in history — the market for unskilled labor has already gone global and higher-skill jobs aren’t far behind. We aren’t going to be bigger or cheaper than our Chinese and Indian competitors in the 21st century; our only option is to be smarter. Yet we’re squandering the aspirations and talent of hundreds of thousands of college students every year.

Clearly, major changes are needed.

We can start by restructuring high schools, which continue to act as if most students don’t go to college when in fact most of them do. Two-thirds of high school graduates enter postsecondary education soon after graduation, and more than 80 percent matriculate by their mid-20s. But many arrive unaware that their high school diploma doesn’t mean they’re ready for college work. Far from it. More than 25 percent of college freshmen have to take remedial courses in basic reading, writing, or math — victims of high schools that systematically fail to enroll many of their college-bound students in college-prep classes.

It’s true that many students arrive in high school behind academically, but high schools need to buckle down and prepare them for college anyway because that’s where they’re going, ready or not. College-prep curricula should be the norm unless students and parents decide otherwise.

We also need to make college more affordable for first-generation college students at the greatest risk of dropping out. We’ve been losing ground here in recent years — federal Pell Grants pay a far smaller portion of college costs than they once did, while states and institutions are shifting many of their student-aid dollars to so-called “merit” programs that mostly benefit middle-and upper-income families. Meanwhile, the ongoing erosion of state funding for public colleges and universities, combined with the unwillingness of those institutions to look hard at becoming more efficient, has produced huge increases in tuition.

As a result, low-income college students have an unpleasant choice: Take out massive student loans that greatly limit their options after graduation, or work full-time while they’re in school, and thereby greatly decrease their odds of graduating. In addition to a renewed federal commitment to college affordability, state lawmakers should resist the urge to pour vast amounts of money into need-blind merit aid programs. And institutions should think twice before taking the advice of for-profit “enrollment management” consultants who counsel reducing aid to the low-income students who need it most.

We need to get serious about creating universities that are actually designed to educate undergraduates successfully. Many institutions are far too concerned with status, research, athletics, fundraising — almost everything except the quality of undergraduate education. Yet research has shown that those institutions that truly focus on high-quality instruction, combined with guidance and support in the critical freshmen year, have much higher graduation rates than their peers. Our colleges need to be held more accountable for the things that matter most: teaching their students well and helping as many as possible earn a degree.

The education secretary’s commission appears poised to put higher education accountability squarely on the national agenda. That’s a good thing. But the panel’s proposal shouldn’t focus on a No Child Left Behind-style top-down system based exclusively on standardized tests, government-defined performance goals, and mandated interventions. Rather, the panel should pursue accountability through transparency, mandating a major expansion of the performance data universities are required to create and report to students, parents, and the public at large.

Finally, the media should look beyond their own lives and aspirations when they shape the public perception of higher education and the admissions process. Caught up in the same status competition they help perpetuate, many simply don’t realize how many college students arrive unprepared, struggle financially, and never finish a degree. For the vast majority of students, and for the nation as a whole, the stakes are far higher than who gets into which Ivy League institution.

September 15, 2006 reply from Peter Kenyon [pbk1@HUMBOLDT.EDU]

Many of us have worked with students who have neither the intent nor motivation to graduate in four, five, or even in six years. Other students lack the understanding or the ability to arrange their lives in ways that will allow them to graduate in a timely fashion.

That said, there remains a large moral hazard for our institutions in "holding on" to our students in order to extract as many units as possible.

Why are we surprised by fundamental shifts in the traditional institution of education when MOST of our traditions are being "reinvented", often with a chorus of self-congratulations?

Peter Kenyon
Humboldt State

September 15, 2006 reply from Glen Gray [glen.gray@CSUN.EDU]

This topic always makes my head hurt. Our university administration is always talking about increasing graduation rates. It's part of the university's strategic plan and it's part of every colleges on campus plan. HOWEVER they keep lowering the standard of incoming freshman. These are clearly conflicting goals.

Every year the university president and provost come to our college faculty meeting to give us an update on university activities. Usually the first topic is the INCREASES in enrollment. The two of them will be smiling from ear to ear and state the campus is adding 1,000, 2,000, or whatever students to the campus. Why are they smiling? Because every student means additional money from the state. The faculty moans. Why? We have to pack more students in each classroom. This means that the marginal students that the president pulls in as part of her out reach activities will not get the individual help that they will need. So, these poor kids are set up to fail.

Glen L. Gray, PhD, CPA
Dept. of Accounting & Information Systems
College of Business & Economics
California State University,
Northridge Northridge, CA 91330-8372

http://www.csun.edu/~vcact00f

September 16, 2006 reply from Patricia Doherty [pdoherty@BU.EDU]

The problem of students who don't seem to be able to focus, and graduate in the "standard" time as most traditional students do, is a complex one. It is not necessarily that they are 'bad' students, or 'not meant for college' so much as they may be lacking in maturity, or possibly be 'late starters' who need something different, or are motivated by something different, than other students. Thus I hesitate to simply pigeonhole them and move on, but would rather see their families evaluate the situate and encourage them in a direction that will be positive, yet not waste time, money, resources on a fruitless slog through the halls of academe to no end.

My own daughter is a case in point. She is undoubtedly intelligent. She scored off the chart on traditional IQ tests. She took her SAT's "cold" - refused to take any of the "review" courses - and yet scored very high, well within the range expected by top schools. But she really didn't have a clear idea of what she wanted to do in life, rather choosing a path because it would give her a good future income. But in her first year of school, she did poorly in most courses, primarily from lack of interest - she saw nothing in them to really capture her imagination. She ended up on academic probation, and left to work for two years. She was fortunate to get a well -paying job.

What was the result? No, she is not on the list of life's failures. She first learned what she DOESN'T want to do for the rest of her life. Her job pays well, but is, well ... boring! She also realized that to earn a living, and want to keep earning it, you have to work at what you do well, and love to do. She thought about that, and realized that she could combine two things she loves into a promising career. She went back to school, and is now in her second year, and doing well (different school). Motivation? Well, she goes to school full time (Sallie Mae has become a close friend) and also works 22 hours a week. That takes motivation.

End of sermon. I think some of our "unmotivated" students are not unmotivated by nature. They simply haven't found their goal yet, or are trying, sadly, to live out someone else's idea of what they should do.

Pat

Bob Jensen's threads on admissions and aid controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#FinancialAid


At the other extreme, this genius completed all four years of college in one year

"Student takes one year to complete 4-year U.Va. degree," by Aaron Kessler, Fredericksburg.com, September 19, 2006 ---  http://fredericksburg.com/News/Web/2006/092006/uva

With college tuition rising to record levels across the country, one University of Virginia student figured out a way to save himself from the crush of student-loan debt.

The solution? He finished college in just one year.

David Banh, of Annandale, is the first person ever to complete U.Va.'s traditional four-year bachelor's program in a single year.

"I was impressed _ I would say amazed," said Donald Ramirez, vice chairman of the mathematics department.

Banh, who turns 19 later this month, graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria in 2005. A year and a summer later, he was a U.Va. alumnus.

Thanks to a mountain of advanced placement credits, Banh was already ahead of the game.

"I flirted with the idea back in high school, and thought I could finish college in a year and a half, in three semesters," Banh said. "But after my first semester (at U.Va.), I realized I had all this extra time, and that if I stayed for a second year I didn't have a way to pay for it without taking out loans."

So he went for it _ taking 11 classes in the spring of 2006 to complete his bachelor's in mathematics.

"It was amazing more of the classes didn't overlap," he said. "Only two of them did, where they were both scheduled for the same time."

One of the subjects dealt with an area Banh was already familiar with from high school, so he was able to pull it off, and passed both classes. At the end of the 2006 term, Banh had completed his degree in math, but realized he was only three credits short of double majoring in physics.

"I really wanted the physics," he said. So he took one final class over the summer and graduated in August with a double major.

Now he's gone on to the graduate program at U.Va., and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics.

Banh said he was already halfway to his degree before stepping foot on campus. He had a whopping 72 credits from advanced placement exams in high school.

"I basically took the entire gamut of AP credits," he said. "I just took everything I could."

U.Va., however, allows only a maximum of 60 such credits to be used toward the 120 it takes to obtain a bachelor's degree. So Banh started the clock with 60 when he arrived in Charlottesville.

"I think it's safe to say I've never seen a person with that many advanced placement credits before," Ramirez said. "Many times we'll see someone come in with six credits, or sometimes 15 at the most."

Banh, then, could have breezed through a normal schedule of classes, and he would have still finished in two years. But he said he thought a year and a half would be a better timetable. He signed up for 23 credit hours his first semester at U.Va., but found the workload wasn't as bad as he thought it might be.

"I found myself sitting around a lot with free time," he said.

Banh's parents, first-generation Vietnamese immigrants, did not have enough money to pay for both his education and that of his siblings. He could have taken out loans for a second year, or taken on a part-time job while completing his studies. But he said it seemed to make more sense to just finish the degree in one year.

The university has regulations concerning how many classes students can take, and Banh had to obtain special permission from the School of Arts & Sciences to continue. While that request was making its way through the chain of command, he signed up for all the courses he could to complete the majors, and left the other classes for when he got the word. Then he waited. And waited.

"I got approval the day before the second semester started," Banh said.

While he may have been busy, Banh said he never had much of a problem making friends, thanks in large part to living in a dorm. And he continues to live in undergraduate housing in the Lambeth Field residences, even though he is now a graduate student.

"If I wanted to, I could probably recreate the four-year U.Va. experience for myself," he said. "I still live with the same friends I had last year only now I'll be going off to do research, and of course I pay zero tuition."

Banh's professors were impressed. "From the very beginning, I was amazed," said Irena Lasiecka, a mathematics professor who taught Banh. "He was definitely the best student in the class, and also the most mature even though he was younger."

Lasiecka was so impressed that she helped Banh achieve admission to the Ph.D. program.

"Some of the other grad students still consider him a big kid, because he's so young," she said. "But his abilities are great. It's obvious that he's exceptionally gifted."

As for what's next for Banh, he is continuing his studies in mathematics, but is also considering going to law school instead.

Ramirez doubts he'll see anyone else accomplish what Banh did as an undergraduate.

"I've been here 39 years, so maybe it will happen again in another 39 years."

Jensen Comment
Doing this to save tuition does not always work. When I was in the doctoral program at Stanford, a long time ago, there was a brilliant physics major who came from France to do a doctorate. While I plodded along for five years, he got his PhD in one year. However, before he could get his diploma he had to pay Stanford for three years of tuition. That was because he majored in physics. Being in accounting, I stuck it out for five years without paying anything for tuition because I was in accounting rather than physics. Accounting majors then (and I think now) did not have to pay tuition in the doctoral program. More technically, Stanford gave all three of us accounting majors (including Jay Smith and Les Livingstone) a fellowship that waived tuition.

Today across the U.S. I think it is rare for doctoral students in accounting to pay tuition from their own pockets. This seems to be an important incentive to major in accounting at the doctoral level that is not well communicated to undergraduate students making longer term career plans.


Accreditation: Why We Must Change
Accreditation has been high on the agenda of the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education and not in very flattering ways. In “issue papers” and in-person discussions, members of the commission and others have offered many criticisms of current accreditation practice and expressed little faith or trust in accreditation as a viable force for quality for the future.
Judith S. Eaton, "Accreditation: Why We Must Change," Inside Higher Ed, June 1, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/06/01/eaton

A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of U.S. Higher Education
Charles Miller, chairman of the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, delivered the final version of the panel’s report to the secretary herself, Margaret Spellings, on Tuesday. The report, “A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of U.S. Higher Education,” is little changed from the final draft that the commission’s members approved by an 18 to 1 vote last month. Apart from a controversial change in language that softened the panel’s support for open source software, the only other alterations were the addition of charts and several “best practices” case studies, which examine the California State University system’s campaign to reach out to underserved students in their communities, the National Center for Academic Transformation’s efforts to improve the efficiency of teaching and learning, and the innovative curriculum at Neumont University (yes, Neumont University), a for-profit institution in Salt Lake City. Spellings said in a statement that she looks forward to “announcing my plans for the future of higher education” next Tuesday at a previously announced luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington.
Inside Higher Ed, September 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/20/qt
 
"Assessing Learning Outcomes," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, September 21, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/21/outcomes

“There is inadequate transparency and accountability for measuring institutional performance, which is more and more necessary to maintaining public trust in higher education.“

“Too many decisions about higher education — from those made by policymakers to those made by students and families — rely heavily on reputation and rankings derived to a large extent from inputs such as financial resources rather than outcomes.”

Those are the words of the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which on Tuesday handed over its final report to Secretary Margaret Spellings.

Less than a week before Spellings announces her plans to carry out the commission’s report, a panel of higher education experts met in Washington on Wednesday to discuss how colleges and universities report their learning outcomes now and the reasons why the public often misses out on this information. On this subject, the panelists’ comments fell largely in line with those of the federal commission.

The session, hosted by the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, at Columbia University’s Teachers College, included an assessment of U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings, which critics say provide too little information about where students learn best.

“The game isn’t about rankings and who’s No. 1,” said W. Robert Connor, president of the Teagle Foundation, a group that has sponsored a series of grants in “value added assessment,” intended to measure what students learn in college. Connor said colleges should be graded on a pass/fail basis, based on whether they keep track of learning outcomes and if they tell the public how they are doing.

“We don’t need a matrix of facets summed up in a single score,” added David Shulenburger, vice president of academic affairs for the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.

What students, parents, college counselors and legislators need is a variety of measuring sticks, panelists said. Still, none of the speakers recommended that colleges refuse to participate in the magazine’s rankings, or that the rankings go away.

“It’s fine that they are out there,” said Richard Ekman, president of the Council on Independent Colleges. “Even if it’s flawed, it’s one measure.”

Ekman said the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which measures educational gains made from a student’s freshman to senior year, and the National Survey of Student Engagement, which gauges student satisfaction on particular campuses, are all part of the full story. (Many institutions participate in the student engagement survey, but relatively few of them make their scores public.) Ekman said there’s no use in waiting until the “perfect” assessment measure is identified to start using what’s already available.

Still, Ekman said he is “wary about making anything mandatory,” and doesn’t support any government involvement in this area. He added that only a small percentage of his constituents use the CLA. (Some are hesitant because of the price, he said.)

Shulenburger plugged a yet-to-be completed index of a college’s performance, called the Voluntary System of Accountability, that will compile information including price, living arrangements, graduation rates and curriculums.

Ross Miller of the Association of American Colleges & Universities said he would like to see an organization compile a list of questions that parents and students can ask themselves when searching for a college. He said this would serve consumers better than even the most comprehensive ranking system.

The Spellings commission recommended the creation of an information database and a search engine that would allow students and policymakers to weigh comparative institutional performance.

Miller also said he would like to see more academic departments publish on their Web sites examples of student work so that applicants can gauge the nature and quality of the work they would be doing.

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm

 

"Accreditation: A Flawed Proposal," by Alan L. Contreras, Inside Higher Ed, June 1, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/06/01/contreras

A recent report released by the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education recommends some major changes in the way accreditation operates in the United States. Perhaps the most significant of these is a proposal that a new accrediting framework “require institutions and programs to move toward world-class quality” using best practices and peer institution comparisons on a national and world basis. Lovely words, and utterly fatal to the proposal.

he principal difficulty with this lofty goal is that outside of a few rarefied contexts, most people do not want our educational standards to get higher. They want the standards to get lower. The difficulty faced by the commission is that public commissions are not allowed to say this out loud because we who make policy and serve in leadership roles are supposed to pretend that people want higher standards.

In fact, postsecondary education for most people is becoming a commodity. Degrees are all but generic, except for those people who want to become professors or enter high-income professions and who therefore need to get their degrees from a name-brand graduate school.

The brutal truth is that higher standards, applied without regard for politics or any kind of screeching in the hinterlands, would result in fewer colleges, fewer programs, and an enormous decrease in the number and size of the schools now accredited by national accreditors. The commission’s report pretends that the concept of regional accreditation is outmoded and that accreditors ought to in essence be lumped together in the new Great Big Accreditor, which is really Congress in drag.

This idea, when combined with the commitment to uniform high standards set at a national or international level, results in an educational cul-de-sac: It is not possible to put the Wharton School into the same category as a nationally accredited degree-granting business college and say “aspire to the same goals.”

The commission attempts to build a paper wall around this problem by paying nominal rhetorical attention to the notion of differing institutional missions. However, this is a classic question-begging situation: if the missions are so different, why should the accreditor be the same for the sake of sameness? And if all business schools should aspire to the same high standards based on national and international norms, do we need the smaller and the nationally accredited business colleges at all?

The state of Oregon made a similar attempt to establish genuine, meaningful standards for all high school graduates starting in 1991 and ending, for most purposes, in 2006, with little but wasted money and damaged reputations to show for it. Why did it fail? Statements of educational quality goals issued by the central bureaucracy collided with the desire of communities to have every student get good grades and a diploma, whether or not they could read, write or meet minimal standards. Woe to any who challenge the Lake Wobegon Effect.

So let us watch the commission, and its Congressional handlers, as it posits a nation and world in which the desire for higher standards represents what Americans want. This amiable fiction follows in a long history of such romans a clef written by the elite, for the elite and of the elite while pretending to be what most people want. They have no choice but to declare victory, but the playing field will not change.

Alan L. Contreras has been administrator of the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization, a unit of the Oregon Student Assistance Commission, since 1999. His views do not necessarily represent those of the commission.

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm


Choosing a College, With Help From the Web
As the college application process has become increasingly available through the Web, many companies —Princeton Review, the College Board, Kaplan, Thomson Peterson and others — are offering search engines that help students put together a list of colleges to consider. Although some sites purport to calculate a student’s likelihood of winning acceptance, the site Annie used, and similar ones, are like a computer dating service, matching students with potentially compatible colleges.
Kate Stone, Lombardi, "Choosing a College, With Help From the Web," The New York Times, September 20, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/20/education/20SEARCH.html


Passing the Turing Test

"How to Be Human:  Call centers might be able to teach "chat bots" a thing or two about passing the Turing Test," by Duncan Graham-Rowe, MIT's Technology Review, September 20, 2006 ---
http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17518&ch=infotech

If this year's winner of the Loebner Prize is on the right track, call-center data could be what's needed to achieve the ultimate goal of artificial intelligence (AI): creating a computer program smart enough to hold a natural conversation.

A self-trained enthusiast with no formal academic background in AI, Rollo Carpenter created the winning program, which learns by analyzing its conversations with people as they "chat" with it online. Regardless of the language, his program analyzes every utterance it witnesses, using what Carpenter calls contextual pattern-recognition techniques. Then, when a user asks the program a question, a database is combed for the best response, statistically speaking.

This method may work for idle chit-chat. But if his bots--automated programs meant to perform specific tasks--are ever to be used in a serious commercial application or to pass the famous Turing Test for artificial intelligence, they will need a vast number of conversations, and computing power to match, says Carpenter. "I need more data," he says.

Thousands of fans have already conversed with his programs online, over nearly 10 years, and his software now contains several million utterances. But to pass itself off as "intelligent," the software will require at least ten times that number of utterances, says Carpenter.

To give his bots an extra boost, he's turning to call-center data. Carpenter has begun working with a firm in Japan, and if his plan succeeds, he says his "chat bots" may eventually be able to take over the roles of human operators.

Jensen Comment
You can read about the Turing Test at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_Test
We can envision a day when the machine will become a security analyst and investment advisor holding a Turing-type conversation with an investor.


New Developments for Breeze Web Conferencing --- http://www.adobe.com/products/breeze/

September 19, 2006 version of Richard Campbell [campbell@RIO.EDU]

This version reflects the combination of Macromedia’s Flash technology and the Adobe pdf technology.

In an intriguing development – they are rebranding the Breeze web conferencing and incorporating into the Adobe Reader.

They are substantially dropping the price for the Breeze web conferencing and making it affordable for mere mortals ($39 per month for 15 “seats”.

http://www.pdfzone.com/article2/0,1895,2017049,00.asp 

Richard J. Campbell
School of Business
218 N. College Ave.
University of Rio Grande
Rio Grande, OH 45674
Voice:740-245-7288

http://faculty.rio.edu/campbell 


"Civic Involvement Tied to Education:  High School Dropouts Unlikely to Vote," by Amy Goldstein, The Washington Post, September 19, 2006, Page A19  --- Click Here

High school dropouts are significantly less likely than better-educated Americans to vote, trust government, do volunteer work, or go to church, according to a new report that reveals a widening gap in "civic health" between the nation's upper and lower classes.

The report, a portrait of civic life in the United States, finds that Americans' disengagement from their communities during the past few decades has been particularly dramatic among adults who have the least education. Among people who lack a high school diploma, the percentage who have voted plummeted from 1976 to 2004 to 31 percent -- half the 62 percent of college graduates who voted in 2004.

The class divide is the most striking finding of the report, prepared by leading social scientists and released yesterday by the National Conference on Citizenship, a nonprofit organization created by Congress. "High school dropouts are . . . nearly voiceless in a system that fails them," said John Bridgeland, a former domestic policy adviser to President Bush who is chief executive officer of Civic Enterprises and leads the conference's advisory board.

Compiled from several national surveys since the mid-1970s, including some that have not been made public before, the report is an attempt to draw attention of the public and policymakers to civic life, in the same way that economic indicators routinely are used to shape the government's economic policy. It examines 40 indicators of nine basic aspects of civic life, including how much people say they trust one another, stay informed, follow the news and express their political views.

Overall, the findings of "Broken Engagement, America's Civic Health Index" reinforce earlier studies that have shown steep declines in civic participation. "The most hopeful signs," the report says, are a recent increase in volunteering, particularly among young people, and an upturn in political involvement since the late 1990s.

Still, it says, the trauma of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and, more recently, Hurricane Katrina, have not been catalysts for "the deeper civic transformation for which many had hoped."

Yesterday, at a Washington conference to recognize Citizenship Day, a panel of scholars and policy specialists gave a sober view even of such promising signs as the increased volunteer service among people ages 18 to 25. "We have to be a little careful about celebrating this young generation. This is mostly an upper-middle-class phenomenon," said Robert D. Putnam, a Harvard University government professor whose 2000 book, "Bowling Alone," documented the decline in civic participation. "If we continue to have a substantial and growing gap between people coming out of the middle class and people coming out of the lower class, we are going to be in a serious pickle in civic terms."

Putnam said the reasons behind the civic drop-off among people with little income or education are not well understood. He speculated that it could result from the increasing instability of the working class, which he said has caused children to grow up with parents who have less steady jobs and marriages. He said the change also could stem from the weakening of trade unions and other institutions that used to unify working-class people, or by an agenda of political issues that appeals mainly to the upper classes.

William A. Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was a domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton, said, "An increase in income inequality is going to produce an increased gap in civic participation" because more affluent people tend to be most engaged in their communities. Galston said low-income people also could be reacting to "the standard view that neither political party has done much" to help them.

Peter Levine, director of the University of Maryland's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, which helped compile the data, said the gap among the social classes exists in almost all 40 indicators of civic engagement included in the report. Levine said the data show that such differences are not associated with people's race or ethnicity.

For instance, nearly half the adults with a college degree said they had attended a community program last year, compared with fewer than one in five high school dropouts. Similarly, 60 percent of the college graduates said they believe people are honest, compared with 44 percent of the dropouts.


"New Critique of Teacher Ed," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, September 29, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/19/teachered

In “Educating School Teachers,” the second in a four-part series of policy papers on the education of future educators, Levine describes teacher education as a “chaotic” field largely lacking in uniform standards and accountability. The first report, “Educating School Leaders,” was released in 2005.

Levine is hardly the first academic to dish on teacher education, a field that has been criticized for its lack of serious scholarship and proven results. Earlier this year, AACTE held a press conference inside the Capitol to dispel what Robinson said are the myths about teacher education programs.

For his latest report, Levine and a team of researchers visited 28 colleges with teacher education programs and surveyed deans, faculty, alumni and principals. Levine based his analysis on those responses, as well as criteria including school mission, curriculum and faculty composition.

According to Levine’s report, more than three of five alumni of teacher education programs surveyed said that their schools didn’t prepare them to cope with the realities of the profession. The report indicates that secondary school principals generally gave the education schools low grades in training students on how to handle diverse classrooms.

Levine found that the nation’s elite institutions are not putting enough emphasis on teacher education and need financial incentives from states and the federal government to create or expand their programs. Too many programs are housed in regional, non-flagship public universities that have higher faculty-to-student ratios and faculty with lesser credentials, the report says.

Levine added that programs that are shown to be ineffective should be closed, and that those that produce prepared graduates should be expanded. “Many of the programs that should be closed will be found among the Masters I granting universities (the Carnegie classification group that includes the smaller public colleges), and expanded programs among the research universities and doctoral extensive ones,” the report says.

Calling that part of Levine’s proposal “elitist,” Robinson, the AACTE president, said it’s unwise to abandon programs at the colleges that produce the greatest number of teachers.

“Like other professions, education must rely more heavily on the less selective institutions to build the bulk of its work force, incorporating the growing first-generation college-going populations,” Robinson said in a statement. “If we intend to overcome the teacher shortage and produce the education work force that the nation needs, preparation must be accessible and affordable.”

Levine said many of the education schools are merely “cash cows” that are forced to enroll too many students and lower admission standards. Robinson said that she agrees with Levine that colleges need to stop the practice of taking money generated from those colleges and dispersing it to other departments.

Levine’s proposal also calls for education schools to adopt a five-year model in which students major as an undergraduate in a discipline other than education and finish with a yearlong master’s degree in education. He pointed to the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education as a college that uses this model and emphasizes pedagogical research.

Constantine W. Curris, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, said in a statement that Levine’s proposal of five-year programs at elite institutions isn’t financialy feasible for students.

“At a time when the nation is concerned about the amount of student indebtedness and repeated studies indicate that tuition costs are impeding access, the Levine recommendations would entail even greater indebtedness for would-be teachers,” Curris said.

Rick Hess, a resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said that while the report is on target in its assessment of the need for more rigorous curriculums, it might not make sense to make an integrated five-year curriculum the norm when many 18 year olds aren’t ready to commit to becoming teachers.

In the report, Levine calls out the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education for having insufficiently rigorous guidelines. NCATE has come under fire for various issues relating to its standards. Levine said his research shows that there appears to be no difference in classroom performance for teachers who were trained in NCATE-accredited programs and those who were not.

Levine also said he would like every state to develop a data collection system that allows it to track an education student’s academic progress. (He pointed out that a number of states already do this.)

Arthur E. Wise, president of NCATE, said in a statement that he agrees with Levine’s assertion that performance-based accreditation should be emphasized, and that NCATE has already moved to develop such standards, which he said are now more demanding.

Wise said that the report fails to mention that NCATE is voluntary and that colleges are free to opt out. He added that many of the top schools – such as Stanford and Levine’s former institution, Teachers College — are accredited by NCATE.

One of the NCATE-accredited education schools is Alverno College, in Milwaukee, which was mentioned by Levine in the report as a model program. The college expects students to do extensive field work and demands that those who don’t meet the minimum standards retake courses.

Levine said that education schools should embrace the fact that they are professional schools and make clinical experience a priority from the start.

Responding to criticism that his report is a regurgitation of past education school critiques, Levine said: “This report is written with tremendous optimism. We’ve heard some of these issues in the past and we haven’t acted on them.”

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm


Columbia University plans to replace loans with grants for all undergraduates with family incomes of up to $50,000, Bloomberg reported. Columbia’s move follows similar announcements from other top universities.
Inside Higher Ed, September 19, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/19/qt


Princeton University on Monday announced a major expansion of its program in African-American studies. The program will receive a new home and funds to be raised through a special campaign, and the size of its faculty will be doubled.
Inside Higher Ed, September 19, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/19/qt


"Fun Union Facts," The Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2006; Page A20 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115862588471466980.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep

This month marks the deadline for the last of the nation's unions to file newly expanded disclosure reports, known as LM-2 forms. LM-2s have been around a long time, though until Labor Secretary Elaine Chao issued a rule requiring an expanded form in 2004, unions got away with providing the skimpiest details. This proved useful to union bosses who wanted to mask their political spending, or in some cases their corruption.

They are now being dragged into the sunshine. Whereas unions used to lump millions of dollars of disbursements into such vague categories as "sundry expenses," the new regime requires them to provide a detailed breakdown of who or what received union money: issue advocacy groups, political consultants, polling outfits, even hotels at which their members stayed.

Hard-working union members deserve to know, for example, that of the AFL-CIO's $82 million in discretionary disbursements from July 2004 to June 2005, only 36% went to representing members in labor negotiations -- which is what unions were created to do. A whopping $49 million, or 60% of its budget, instead went to political activities and lobbying, while another $2.4 million went to contributions, gifts and grants. The National Education Association was even more skewed toward politics, spending only 33% of its $143 million discretionary budget on improving its members' lots.

By our calculations based on the filings, the AFL-CIO spent at least $2.7 million alone on T-shirts, flyers, telephone calls, Web site hosting, and other support for 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry. Groups that received AFL-CIO money included Citizens for Tax Justice, an organization devoted to higher tax rates; the Economic Policy Institute, a think-tank that campaigns against Social Security privatization and tax cuts; and the Alliance for Justice, a ferocious opponent of President Bush's Supreme Court nominees.

Dues-paying workers of the world might want to ask: Why is Mr. Sweeney spending more of their money trying to raise taxes, or fighting for the cultural left, than he is on collective bargaining?

The IRS may also want to inspect these forms. That's because, prior to the new LM-2 disclosure rules, at least a dozen large unions had told the tax agency that they spent nothing on politics. The National Education Association's 2004 tax return, for instance, left blank the line for "direct or indirect political expenditures." Yet according to its LM-2, the NEA spent $25 million on such activities from September 2004 to August 2005. Eliot Spitzer could sure have fun with that one -- if he didn't have the NEA's endorsement.

The forms also offer a glimpse at union chief salaries. At least three union heads took home more than a million dollars in compensation in their last fiscal year -- though two were admittedly the heads of the NFL and NBA players unions. The third-fattest union cat was Martin Maddaloni, the chief of the Plumbers and Pipefitters, who took home $1.3 million last year. The Plumbers' "director of training" -- a fellow named George Bliss -- somehow managed to make $456,644 in 2005. Now we know why plumbers are so expensive: They have to make enough to pay the dues that keep their union reps in Armani.

The LM-2 forms show that some 1,015 paid union officers and employees devoted more than 90% of their time to political activities. Combined, these folks took home compensation worth nearly $53 million. Some 1,755 union personnel spent at least 50% of their time on political activities and lobbying.

As for financial management, let's just say some of these union chiefs are having fun in their jobs. United Auto Workers Local 14 reported it spent $67,000 at an amusement park. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers spent $124,000 at a hotel resort. And the Plumbers forked over $225,000 on Nascar advertising.

A couple of other fun facts: Of the 100 highest paid union executives, 93% are men. We hope some class-action lawyer isn't looking to sue for gender discrimination. And, believe it or not, unions report that they spent $624,000 at largely non-unionized big box retailers across the country, including Target, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Costco and K-Mart. They apparently know a low price when they see one. * * *

When Secretary Chao proposed the new rules, unions were furious and came close to getting them blocked on Capitol Hill, and in court. Mr. Sweeney, the AFL-CIO chief, was quoted as saying the rule "will cost union members an estimated billion dollars a year," and that the average union would have to spend $1.2 million. The actual cost of AFL-CIO compliance turned out to be $54,000, so Mr. Sweeney was only off by 96%.

Unions should have the right to spend whatever they want on politics, and we've defended that right against McCain-Feingold and other campaign-finance limits. At the same time, however, union members who don't like the way their coerced dues are spent have the right under the Supreme Court's Beck decision to ask for the political and grant portion of that money back. May these illuminating LM-2 disclosures be spread far and wide.

Bob Jensen's threads on labor union corruption are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#LaborUnions


American Society of Plant Biologists Members to Get Open Access for Free
There are strong reasons to believe that Open Access drives higher impact and citation by accelerating recognition and dissemination of research findings. A recent recent longitudinal bibliometric analysis of Open Access vs. non–Open Access papers published over a 6-month period in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences supports this premise (Eysenbach, 2006). Even in a journal widely available in research libraries and one that publicly releases its full content after 6 months, Open Access articles were found to be twice as likely to be cited in the first 4 to 10 months compared to non–Open Access articles.

As quoted in Issues in Scholarly Communication from the University of Illinois, September 12, 2006 --- http://www.library.uiuc.edu/blog/scholcomm/


Impact of Attendance on Learning

September 14, 2006 message from Andrew Priest [a.priest@ECU.EDU.AU]

Thought you might find this piece of research interesting. I shared this with my students.

Stanca, Luca. (2006)The effects of attendance on academic performance: panel data evidence for introductory microeconomics. Journal of Economic Education, 37, p251(16).

Abstract: The author presents new evidence on the effects of attendance on academic performance. He used a large panel data set for introductory microeconomics students to explicitly take into account the effect of unobservable factors correlated with attendance, such as ability, effort, and motivation. He found that neither proxy variables nor instrumental variables provide a solution to the omitted variable bias. Panel estimators indicate that attendance has a smaller but significant impact on performance. Lecture and classes have a similar effect on performance individually, although their impact cannot be identified separately. Overall, the results indicate that, after controlling for unobservable student characteristics, attendance has a statistically significant and quantitatively relevant effect on student learning.

Regards
Andrew


Perhaps adding to Wikipedia is just another form of annotation from years past
If you are in an antique bookstore that has two copies of an old book. Would you prefer the pristine copy or the copy that scholars have marked up on the margins?

"State of the Annotation," by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, September 13, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/09/13/mclemee

The marks left in the books themselves were nothing, compared to the marks that each book left on the reader.

But annotation is also a kind of interpretation – and someone else’s interpretation can get in the way, at times, even if that “someone” is an earlier version of oneself. So I’ve ended up acquiring those doppelgänger editions. They are the quickest shortcut to feigning a naive encounter with the author’s work.

Some of you may have indulged the same quirk. At least I hope so.

. . .

According to Anthony Grafton, a professor of history at Princeton University, there was a time when the proper method for annotating was a basic skill taught in the classroom. (I forget where he discusses this, but can recommend The Footnote or Bring Out Your Dead to anyone unfamiliar with Grafton’s work.) During the Renaissance, the senior scholar would provide guidance on what marginal references should be added to one’s edition of Aristotle, or whatever the text for the class might be.

This was not a matter of whim or individual expressiveness. There were systems for doing it properly. Upon ripening in erudition, you could presumably be trusted to go solo. It helped that, for a long time, a reader could order a new volume from the bookseller with blank pages sewn into it at various points. (This was a standard option in the 18th century, and I’ve seen some 19th century volumes similarly customized.)

Today, of course, annotation is entirely a matter of personal preference. Any method for doing it is bound to be the product of improvisation. My own system, for what it’s worth, has become ever simpler and more efficient over time.

Continued in article


Interior Department suppressed auditing efforts
Four government auditors who monitor leases for oil and gas on federal property say the Interior Department suppressed their efforts to recover millions of dollars from companies they said were cheating the government. The accusations, many of them in four lawsuits that were unsealed last week by federal judges in Oklahoma, represent a rare rebellion by government investigators against their own agency. The auditors contend that they were blocked by their bosses from pursuing more than $30 million in fraudulent underpayments of royalties for oil produced in publicly owned waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
Edmund L. Andrews, "Suits Say U.S. Impeded Audits for Oil Leases," The New York Times, September 21, 2006 ---
Click Here

Yeah Right!
"Interior Official Says She Will Not Try to Recoup Lease Money," by Edmund L. Andrews, The New York Times, September 22, 2006 --- Click Here

There's no fraud like U.S. Government fraud
"Limo letter is found at Homeland Security," by Dean Calbreath, The San Diego Union-Tribune, June 17, 2006 --- http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060617/news_1n17letter.html

A day after Homeland Security officials denied knowing about former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham's attempts to gain a contract for a limousine service, Cunningham's letter praising the company surfaced in the department's files.

In the letter, Cunningham wrote of his “full support of (Shirlington Limousine's) wish to provide transportation services for the Department of Homeland Security,” or DHS.

FBI agents have been investigating whether the company – while working for Brent Wilkes, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Cunningham corruption case – helped Wilkes arrange for prostitutes for Cunningham while Wilkes was vying for federal contracts.

Wilkes and Shirlington founder Christopher Baker have denied any involvement with prostitutes. But Baker has said through his lawyer that he provided transportation for “entertainment” at Wilkes' hospitality suites in Washington from 1990 to the early part of the decade.

At a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday, it was revealed that Baker has been testifying before a grand jury. The committee is probing whether Cunningham pressured Homeland Security to give Shirlington a contract.

Although Baker is a convicted felon, Cunningham gave him a character reference Jan. 16, 2004.

“I have personally known Mr. Baker since the mid-1990s,” Cunningham wrote to Homeland Security. “He is dedicated to his work and has been of service to me and other Members of Congress over the years.”

At the time, the department had no plans to hire a limousine service. But within three months, the department gave Baker a $3.8 million contract. A year later, he got a contract worth up to $21.2 million.

Until recently, Homeland Security officials have denied that any legislators were involved in the contract. In May, department officials twice told Congress that they had no record of Cunningham's letter.

On Thursday, however, Baker gave Congress a sworn affidavit that he had sent the letter to the department. Homeland Security officials said they found an e-mail mentioning the letter but had no other evidence of its existence.

Yesterday the department produced the letter, saying it had been misfiled.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm


"25 Reasons Employees Lie, Cheat, and Steal," SmartPros, September 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x54052.xml

On-the-job theft goes beyond greed, according to authorities in white-collar crime (criminologists, sociologists, auditors, risk managers, etc.), who cite a large list of reasons for employee theft.

In fact, a new edition of Fraud Auditing and Forensic Accounting lists a long list of 25 reasons -- some of which are common knowledge, but others may surprise. They include:

Read the entire list and check out Book Corner for more details on the book.

White collar crime pays big even if you get caught --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#CrimePays

What Accountants Need to Know ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#AccountantsNeedToKnow

Bob Jensen's threads on theft and fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud.htm


High-tech scammer reprogrammed a gas station ATM into giving out free money

"ATM Crime Spree Imminent?" Wired News, September 20, 2006 --- http://blog.wired.com/27BStroke6/#1560245

A security expert in New York has learned how to get free money from some ATMs by entering a special code sequence on the PIN pad.

Last week, news
reports circulated about a cyber thief who strolled into a gas station in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and, with no special equipment, reprogrammed the mini ATM in the corner to think it had $5.00 bills in its dispensing tray, instead of $20.00 bills.

Using a pre-paid debit card, the crook then made a withdrawal, and casually strolled off with a 300% profit in his pocket.

Foolishly, he left the ATM misprogrammed this way for 9 days -- presumably to the delight of other customers -- before a good Samaritan reported the issue and exposed the caper.

How, exactly, he pulled off the swindle remained unreported. Curious,
Dave Goldsmith, a computer security researcher at Matasano Security began poking around. Based on CNN's video, he identified the ATM as a Tranax Mini Bank 1500 series.

He then set out to see if he could get a copy of the manual for the apparently-vulnerable machine to find out how the hack worked. Fifteen minutes later,
he reported success.

"ATM Maker Readies Anti-Hack Patch," by Kevin Poulsen, Wired News, September 21, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,71832-0.html?tw=wn_index_2


"How to Prevent Investment Adviser Fraud," by Brian Carroll, Journal of Accountancy, January 2006 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/jan2006/carroll.htm


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
SECTION 206 OF THE INVESTMENT ADVISERS ACT OF 1940 provides guidelines for investment advisers on what constitutes fraud.

THE SUPREME COURT HAS HELD THAT THE ACT imposes a fiduciary duty on investment advisers to act in the best interest of their clients by fully disclosing all potential conflicts of interest.

INVESTMENT ADVISERS SHOULD REVIEW CAREFULLY SEC and other disclosure requirements to ensure they clearly understand potential conflicts.

INVESTMENT ADVISERS SHOULD REVIEW ALL SEC FILINGS, client marketing materials and other significant documents to ensure that they have appropriately disclosed all potential conflicts.

Brian Carroll, CPA, is special counsel with the SEC in Philadelphia and an adjunct professor at Rutgers University School of Law, Camden, N.J.

Bob Jensen's threads on theft and fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud.htm


Crime in Belgium, or Lack Thereof

September 14, 2006 message from David Fordham (from Belgium)  [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]

Bob, I can't hit "reply" here and have the listserv accept it, so I have to reply separately.

The morning before you posted your tidbits, I noticed a sidebar-type article in the local "dagblad" (daily newspaper) here about a funny Wall Street Journal article which had apparently taken a light-hearted joke put out by one of the many government public-relations people about police stations being the victims of crime. The quoted Belgian article was citing some obscure audit report which showed that stuff from paperclips to bullets weren't being properly accounted for, and questioned whether possibly more stuff might be disappearing from the books. In the tradition of National Enquirer yellow journalism, someone ribbed the Interior Minister about it, and he laughingly admitted that even the police are victims.

Apparently someone at the WSJ picked up on the "joke" and took off with it, thinking that it would make "news".

According to the local article, the "counts" of "thefts" cited in the Belga article and repeated in the WSJ are audit findings where stuff (literally including paperclips!) could not be found. Of course, the article didn't point out that saying that it was 'burgled' or stolen is as much a stretch as saying that a missing cat was eaten for dinner. But it is true that the stuff can't be found, at least by the auditors, and might have been lifted.

What was funny, and was being reported in the local paper, however, was that this audit made news in the U.S., whereas no respectable news agency in Belgium bothered, except the "Belga", which is kinda a combination "The Onion", "National Enquirer"', and "Mad Magazine" type publication put out as entertainment by the recreational division of the Interior department. No one here takes Belga any more seriously than Americans take Jay Leno's headlines or Dave Letterman's top ten.

When I saw your tidbit, I tried to see the WSJ article for myself (being a long-time skeptic of the WSJ, I was genuinely interested in what they said about the situation), but alas, the link only works for subscribers, so I didn't get to see it. I might expect the WSJ article to be as much tongue-in-cheek as the Belga article, but having had experience with WSJ before, many times before, I don't realistically expect them to indicate in any way that the story was meant as a joke.

The more troubling statistic these days in Belgium is the tremendous increase in the crime rate in Antwerp. Antwerp is the world's fourth largest port and a city with approximately 1.2 million people in its metropolitan area (making it comparable to San Antonio, San Diego, or Dallas according to Infoplease http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0763098.html 

What's troubling? Get this ... Antwerp, a city of 1.2 million, has had two murder incidents this year. Yes, not one, but two. And one of the incidents resulted in a triple murder!

Early in the year, a group of Moroccan youths were harrassing a young girl on a bus, and when an off-duty rail conductor told them to knock it off, they beat him with a stick so badly he died. And then in May, the 18-year old son of the ultra-right-wing facist separatist Vlaams Blok party's leader shot and killed a Nigerian babysitter, her Turkish friend, and the 2-year-old blonde, blue-eyed native- born Belgian girl in the stroller they were pushing down the street. (Possession of guns is illegal here, by the way.) That incident sparked a city rally attended by 50,000 people protesting intolerance, and showing solidarity and support for people of all cultures and demonstrating for peace and harmony.

Brussels, (a city comparable in size and population to Washington D.C. or Chicago) had a murder this year, too. A gang of East European youths murdered a Belgian young man in an attempt to steal his iPod. But fortunately, their rate isn't increasing the way Antwerp's is! Antwerp had gone three years without a single murder.

Murders are so rare in Belgium, they make frontline news the way Katrina does in the U.S. (By contrast, the Washington Post often puts D.C. murders on later pages, because there are too many each day to fit on the front page!)

I feel much safer letting my daughters walk around downtown Antwerp after dark than I do letting them walk in daylight in Cleveland, Atlanta, Detroit, Memphis, Denver, or Los Angeles, Cincinnatti, or Seattle. Crimes against people are extremely rare here.

Property crimes, however, are more on par with the U.S. Pickpocketing tourists is a popular pasttime with many young Belgian immigrants. We have had several students in our program over the years be victims of pickpockets or attempted pick-pockets.

I live a block from our local police precinct house. Police stations in Belgium aren't the major centralized offices we have in the U.S. They are often small neighborhood storefront offices. There are about six within walking distance of my flat, here on Keizerstraat. With the thousands of offices all over the country, I am not surprised at all that an audit would turn up a lot of missing stuff, including guns, bullets, or even a car here or there! Even our college audit turned up lots of missing stuff.

I would very much like to read the WSJ article, and share it with my friends here. During the University of Antwerp school year, which doesnt start for another week, we get free copies at the U.A. library, but they dont have back issues until the microfilms come in. The WSJ articles are often the butt of jokes among the faculty here (as is the NYT, the old London Sun, and a couple of others) for their Mad-Magazine approach to news reporting. My students two years ago had a field day with a NYT article about a session of the European Parliament which they had attended in person. Except for the general topic, nothing about the article resembled in any way what actually went on in the session, and what little fact there was concentrated on a one-minute exchange between two individual commenters, ignoring the more major discussions.

Again, news papers are commercial concerns and are always more concerned with selling their product than reporting factual news. this has been the case since Benjamin Franklin's day.

However, I would enjoy a copy of the WSJ article if you can somehow provide it to me.

David Fordham
James Madison University

September 14, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi David,

Thanks for the really informative update about life and crime in Belgium.

The WSJ article in question is very short and, I think, is not tongue and cheek as alleged in the Belgium press. One is led to believe that the reported crime statistics are really true and that the missing items are more valuable.

The entire article is pasted below:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Belgian Insecurity The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2006
Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115757535364355490.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep 

The president of the Belgian province of Flanders caused a row last month by wondering aloud whether Belgium had any reason beyond "the king, the national soccer team and certain brands of beer" to continue existing as one country. If recent events are any indication, the national law-enforcement system is not a fourth point in "One Belgium's" favor.

Belgian newspapers this week reported burglaries at the offices of the national military intelligence and anti-terror agencies. The theft at military intelligence, revealed by De Morgen, apparently dates back to 2005. On the night before his last day at the agency, an employee copied confidential papers and then took boxes full of documents out of the office without being questioned.

Meanwhile, De Standaard reported that Belgium's Mixed Antiterrorism Group -- which gathers and analyzes information about extremists from all of the country's law-enforcement services -- had a gun, money and laptops stolen from its building last week. The thieves, two youths who apparently were looking for cash and other valuables rather than state secrets, entered via a back door that didn't even have a security camera. The Antiterrorism Group -- which has been in its present offices for 15 months -- is not scheduled to get an alarm system until next year.

Still more alarming was last month's admission by Interior Minister Patrick Dewael that 1,529 Belgian police stations has been burgled from 2000 to 2004. The thieves made off with guns, ammunition, bulletproof jackets, bicycles, flashlights and more, according to Belga, the state news agency. And these weren't just small-town capers pulled off by Belgian Barney Fifes: Nearly half of the 325 burglaries in 2004 were in the capital Brussels (101) and the port city of Antwerp (55).

Belgium is the butt of a lot of jokes in Europe. But even Belgians have to be rolling their eyes at the way their supposed defenders can't defend themselves.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bob Jensen

September 14, 2006 reply from David Fordham, James Madison University [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]

Bob, thanks very much for the article. Also thanks to the WSJ fellow who provided me with an official copy.

I can now see the Het Nieuwsblad article in a different light, and it ever-so-slightly reveals a new perspective.

So let's see. 1. We have an audit which found a list of property supposedly belonging to numerous police stations but which could not be located by the auditors; 2. We have a tongue-in-cheek humorous response to the audit from a high- ranking government official. 3. We have a tongue-in-cheek press release parodying and satirizing a combination of the audit and the official's response, issued by an agency whose mission includes issuing government information but which enjoys a reputation for being a humorous distraction. 4. We have a WSJ article which not only quotes the parody/satire press release as serious fact, but uses that quote to conclude an article consisting of four paragraphs, where the first article alleges a newsworthy sensational and emotional tale of a woeful situation, the next two paragraphs contain information from a factual news report of two actual and bonefide burglaries (which were indeed reported in the reputable Belgian press as claimed), but when appended by the misleading ending paragraph, make it sound like the two individual burglaries are simply a tiny sample of a huge number (an actually-stated number!) of identical or at least similar occurences, and thus "proving" the sensational claim of the first paragraph...a conclusion which is preposterous given the actual facts.

I guess it is this practice, of using sensational, emotional language ("president", "causing a row" "whether the country has any reason ...to continue to exist as one country" "the local law enforcement is not a point in Begium's favor") to describe a non-existent state of affairs (usually negative) and incite passion about a non-issue, to the exclusion of describing, relating, and reporting the actual facts which would in fact refute the emotional assertion being made by the author, which makes me so cynical about reporters for the popular press.

Then we have the Het Niewsblad article which criticizes the WSJ for taking a kid's joke and using it to color an adult's incident or situation into a new joke, but one which can too easily be mistaken for a serious incident.

I guess I'm the only one with a wild enough imagination to wee an uncanny parallel to all of this to the entire objectives of financial reporting? (Humorous, of course)

David Fordham

September 14, 2006 reply from Eric Press [eric.press@TEMPLE.EDU]

David,

One comment to make, re the burglary brouhaha: Note the source of the story is NOT the WSJ, but the WSJ online. WSJ Online is written mostly by James Taranto. My impression is that it's way more bloggy than the WSJ, i.e., it's not subject to the same vetting / fact checking the printed WSJ would have. Nonetheless, you surely could send your stuff to WSJ Online, and set them straight. I would bet they'll expose the hoax they helped perpetrate.

Eric Press, Ph.D., C.P.A. Chairman,
Department of Accounting
Fox School of Business
335 Speakman Hall
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Jensen Comment
It has since been reported that Belgians are among the deadliest drivers is the world, ahead of the U.S.


"KPMG Strikes Back at Former Employees in Tax Shelter Case,"  by Lynnley Browning, The New York Times, September 19, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/19/business/19shelter.html

The accounting firm KPMG struck back yesterday against 16 former employees and the federal judge overseeing their coming tax shelter trial, filing court papers seeking compensation from certain defendants and saying that it would appeal a ruling ordering a related trial over their legal fees.

KPMG itself narrowly averted criminal indictment last year, reaching a $456 million deferred-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department over questionable shelters.

The case against the former KPMG employees, an outside investment adviser and a lawyer, is described as the largest criminal tax trial ever. It has attracted criticism of the tough prosecutorial tactics adopted by the Justice Department in early 2003 after the accounting scandals at Enron and elsewhere.

Prosecutors accuse the defendants of conspiring to defraud the government by making and selling abusive tax shelters. In counterclaim papers filed yesterday, KPMG accused five defendants of breach of fiduciary duty or embezzlement and sought unspecified damages.

The claim accuses David Greenberg, a former top KPMG West Coast partner, and Robert Pfaff, a former KPMG employee and later an outside investment adviser, of embezzling from KPMG through their sale of tax shelters. It also accuses Jeffrey Stein, a former vice chairman; Richard Rosenthal, a former chief financial officer; and Richard Smith, a former vice chairman of tax services, of breach of fiduciary duty to the firm.

In a separate motion filed yesterday, lawyers for KPMG said they were asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to reconsider a decision made earlier this month by the judge overseeing the case of the former employees.

In his decision, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan denied KPMG’s request either to dismiss a recent civil case filed by the defendants seeking to force KPMG to pay the legal fees, or to compel the defendants to submit to arbitration. Judge Kaplan had ordered a civil trial to be held next month.

But the KPMG filing challenged Judge Kaplan’s jurisdiction over the legal fees issue, and asked him to delay the civil trial indefinitely, pending its appeal.

A spokeswoman for KPMG said yesterday that the firm was “asserting its right to seek arbitration” as outlined in the defendants’ employment contracts.

In a blistering ruling last June, Judge Kaplan found that federal prosecutors violated the constitutional rights of the KPMG defendants and exerted undue pressure on KPMG when they urged KPMG to cut off the legal fees and disclose legal communications, even though the defendants had not yet been indicted. The Justice Department appealed that ruling in July.

In its motion filed yesterday, KPMG asked that its own appeal regarding the civil trial on fees next month be heard in conjunction with the Justice Department appeal.

Bob Jensen's threads on KPMG's confessions to tax shelter fraud and negotiated $456 million fine are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#KPMG


Authors Strike Deals to Squeeze in a Few Brand Names
Marketers have discovered a novel way to get their word out: embedding products in books. The latest example is Cathy's Book, a novel due out Oct. 2 about a teen determined to find out why her boyfriend dumps her, then mysteriously disappears. Procter & Gamble wrote a deal with the authors to include products such as Cover Girl's "Shimmering Onyx" eye shadow and "Metallic Rose" lipstick in exchange for promoting the book on P&G's teen website BeingGirl.com. Read more about this blurring of the lines between advertising and book publishing in USA Today, 9/10/06.
"Authors Strike Deals to Squeeze in a Few Brand Names," Issues in Scholarly Communication from the University of Illinois, September 11, 2006 --- http://www.library.uiuc.edu/blog/scholcomm/
Jensen Comment
Just thinking about all those products I've mentioned for free. Sigh!


"Monopoly's Extreme Makeover:  A new, permanent version of Hasbro's classic board game is installing branded tokens, raising rents big time, and halting railroads," by Joseph Pisani, Business Week, September 14, 2006 --- Click Here

Monopoly is getting revamped for the 21st century. Seventy-one years after the hugely popular board made its debut, its familiar Atlantic City boardwalk, railroads, currency, and old-fashioned die-cast tokens are making room for Times Square, airplanes, and enough tie-ins with big popular brands to make even the most brazen Hollywood producer green with envy.

If Monopoly constitutes a reflection of contemporary U.S. culture, here's the world we now live in. Most of the game's famous tokens are reemerging as branded products. They include a Toyota Prius (TM), a New Balance sneaker, McDonald's (MCD) French Fries, a Motorola (MOT) RAZR, and a Starbucks (SBUX) coffee mug. The three nonbranded tokens are a laptop computer, an airplane, and a Labradoodle.

NO KICKBACKS. Among other changes on the board: The old powerful railroads become the nation's busiest airports. Prices have gone up, too: It'll cost $4 million to buy Times Square, opposed to $400 for the old Atlantic City boardwalk.

Manufacturer Hasbro (HAS) is calling this updated game Monopoly: Here & Now. Mark Blecher, senior vice-president of marketing, says Hasbro wasn't paid a single dime for splashing corporate logos all over its game. Instead, he says, the tokens simply represent what Hasbro game designers see as today's "most iconic pop culture items." The five companies were asked if they would participate in the updated game. Who would say no?

According to Blecher, the Monopoly: Here & Now edition will be a permanent product rather than a limited-edition board game such as the movie- and sports-themed versions Hasbro has released. The new version hits store shelves on Sept. 14.

And don't worry, nostalgia buffs, you can still buy the original game with the old-fashioned car and railroad tokens, which will continue to sell, alongside the Here & Now edition.


Monopoly's Extreme Makeover --- Free Microsoft Office Online?

"Microsoft Brings the Works Online:  The software goliath squares off with tiny online competitors, Google, and—possibly—itself," by Jay Greene, Business Week, September 14, 2006 --- Click Here

Microsoft, which scoffed at the rise of online alternatives to Office, isn't looking the other way anymore. BusinessWeek has learned that the software giant is developing a strategy to put some of the technology from its Works software—the barebones word-processing and spreadsheet program that often ships with new consumer PCs—at the heart of a new online offering.

The company is working on plans to offer a free version hosted on its Office Live Web site, as well as a subscription flavor with more bells and whistles. While it's not a done deal, the company is throwing a lot of manpower at the project. "It's not a small number (of people working on the project) to be sure," says Chris Capossela, vice-president for Microsoft's Business Division Product Management Group. "This is core. We want to win this space."

WORKS ONLINE. Microsoft is still working out the details for its online offering. And nothing will likely be decided until after its flagship productivity software, Microsoft Office 2007, ships early next year (see BusinessWeek.com, 11/18/05, "Microsoft's New Word: Accountability"). But after that, Microsoft will likely put tweaked versions of the Works spreadsheet, word-processing, and project management programs on the Web.

It's a delicate dance for Microsoft, though. The company is keen to compete with new offerings from Google (GOOG) and others that provide free productivity applications online. But offering a rich set of services could undermine its lucrative Office hegemony.

The services will be designed to help consumers share documents they create and collaborate on projects with friends and colleagues, rather than just e-mailing files around. Parents can post soccer schedules for the kids. Small businesses can create customer contact lists for their employees. The Microsoft brass sees it as filling a niche the company's PC offerings can't touch. "The sharing scenario that the Internet offers us is an awesome opportunity to do things we aren't doing well today," Capossela says.

RISK OF CANNIBALIZATION. Bringing Works functionality to the Web is a tricky proposition for the software giant that threatens an existing business—with no guarantees that the new one will replace lost revenue. To see where Microsoft is headed, look at Office Live. That service, still in testing, offers companies Web hosting and e-mail with a personalized domain name. There is a free version, with five e-mail accounts, that's paid for with advertising served up by Microsoft. And Office Live offers a subscription version, which includes 50 e-mail accounts at a monthly cost of $29.95 once the trial period ends (see BusinessWeek.com, 9/13/06, "Can Microsoft Out-Google Google?"). With online word processing and spreadsheets, Microsoft would likely let Netizens choose from basic versions available for free and supported by ads, or subscription services with more robust features.

While there's some risk of cannibalizing Works sales, the bigger fear is draining users from Office. While the company doesn't break out Works sales, Goldman Sachs (GS) analyst Rick Sherlund believes that the retail sales of Works, at $49.95 a pop, are scant and the licensing fees from computer makers—which he estimates are between 50 cents and $2 a copy—don't add up to much, even when multiplied by the tens of millions of PCs that ship with it each year. But Microsoft will tread lightly with its online offering for fear of consumers using it instead of Office, which starts at $149 (see BusinessWeek.com, 2/16/06, "Microsoft's Office-Come-Lately").

FENDING OFF GOOGLE. Sherlund discounts that danger, saying Microsoft faces a much bigger problem trying to unseat Google. The Web kingpin generates more revenue from its search and other businesses than Microsoft does online, and threatens to extend that lead with new word-processing and spreadsheet services. To counter that, Sherlund believes Microsoft should go even farther than it's contemplating and offer much of the rich Office functionality online. That would be costly, but would put Google on the defensive. "You need to be aggressive in dealing with Google," Sherlund says. "Don't tie your hands behind your back. Come out swinging. Embrace the new model."

Such a strategy would only put at risk Microsoft's sales of Office to consumers, Sherlund figures, since businesses are typically reluctant to put corporate documents online. That amounts to roughly 6% of Microsoft's annual earnings—about $1 billion in the last fiscal year—money better spent putting Google at a disadvantage.

For now, that seems unlikely. But even if it's not the giant step some think Microsoft should take, there's little doubt that Google Spreadsheets—and ThinkFree—are about to get some new competition.


Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/

Latest Headlines on September 20, 2006

Latest Headlines on September 21, 2006

Latest Headlines on September 22

Latest Headlines on September 23, 2006


Learn How to Wash Produce --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6104414


Answers to Your Questions on Running --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6112350


Globalization and Health --- http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/


Women looking more like the Golden Arches: Fatty food takes its toll of the French
The carefully cultivated image of the French as a nation that eats well but stays slim suffered a serious setback yesterday when a study showed that nearly 20 million people were overweight or obese. The appeal of American-style fast food, snacks between meals and a sedentary way of life has led to young women piling on the pounds even more quickly than men, the study said. It showed that almost a third of the population had weight problems. Ten per cent of women born between 1966 and 1972 are obese, on average 20 years earlier than their mothers' generation. Men, especially those in high income professions, are more likely to take care to keep their weight down.

Colin Randall, "Fatty food takes its toll of the French," London Telegraph, September 20, 2006 --- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/09/20/wfrench20.xml

But Wait:  Fat Has Some Health Essentials
Too much body fat may be a bad thing, but there is increasing evidence that too little fat also may have some surprisingly negative consequences. Researchers at UC Irvine have found that fat droplets – tiny balls of fat that exist in most cells – appear to have an intriguing role to play when it comes to regulating excess proteins in the body. In a study with fruit flies, developmental biologist Steven Gross and colleagues found that these fat droplets served as storage depots for a type of protein used primarily by the cell to bind DNA and organize it in the nucleus. The fat keeps this extra protein out of the way until it is needed so that it does not cause harm within the cell. The findings imply that fat droplets could also serve as storage warehouses for other excess proteins that might otherwise cause harm if not sequestered. The study appears in the current issue of Current Biology.
"Scientists discover a new healthy role for fat," PhysOrg, September 19, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news77910359.html


"You don't need a big lottery win for long term happiness… but a few thousand helps," PhysOrg, September 19, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news77901563.html

Researchers at the University of Warwick and Watson Wyatt have been examining just how much money one needs to win in the lottery to have a long term impact on personal happiness. Unsurprisingly the researchers found that small wins in tens or hundreds of pounds made little long term difference, but they also found one did not need to win the jackpot to gain a significant increase in long-term mental wellbeing.

In work to be published in the Journal of Health Economics, researchers Professor Andrew Oswald from the University of Warwick and Dr Jonathan Gardner from Watson Wyatt showed that medium-sized lottery wins ranging from around just £1000 to £120,000 had a long term sustained impact in the overall happiness of those winners. On average, two years after their win medium-sized lottery winners had a mental wellbeing GHQ score 1.4 points better than previously - meaning loosely that two years after their win they were just over 10% happier than the average person without a win or only a tiny lottery win.

Intriguingly the researchers also found that this increased happiness is not obvious immediately after the medium-sized win and takes some time to show through. Economist Professor Andrew Oswald from the University of Warwick said:

"This delay could be due the short term disruptive effect on one's live of actually winning, but a more plausible explanation of the delay is that initially many windfall lottery funds are saved and spent later."

The researchers studied 14 years of longitudinal data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) which tracks 5,000 British households.

Source: University of Warwick


"The Ten Great Myths in the Debate Over Stem Cell Research," by Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, National Catholic Bioethics Center, September 19, 2006 --- http://www.ncbcenter.org/10Myths.pdf

1. Stem cells can only come from embryos. In fact stem cells can be taken from umbilical cords, the placenta, amniotic fluid, adult tissues and organs such as bone marrow, fat from liposuction, regions of the nose, and even from cadavers up to 20 hours after death.

2. The Catholic Church is against stem cell research. There are four categories of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, embryonic germ cells, umbilical cord stem cells, and adult stem cells. Given that germ cells can come from miscarriages that involve no deliberate interruption of pregnancy, the church really opposes the use of only one of these four categories, i.e., embryonic stem cells. In other words, the Catholic Church approves three of the four possible types of stem cell research.

3. Embryonic stem cell research has the greatest promise. Up to now, no human being has ever been cured of a disease using embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, have already cured thousands. There is the example of the use of bone marrow cells from the hipbone to repair scar tissue on the heart after heart attacks. Research using adult cells is 20-30 years ahead of embryonic stem cells and holds greater promise. This is in part because stem cells are part of the natural repair mechanisms of an adult body, while embryonic stem cells do not belong in an adult body (where they are likely to form tumors, and to be rejected as foreign tissue by the recipient). Rather, embryonic stem cells really belong only within in the specialized microenvironment of a rapidly growing embryo, which is a radically different setting from an adult body.

4. Therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning are fundamentally different from one another. The creation of cloned embryos either to make a baby or to harvest cells occurs by the same series of technical steps. The only difference is what will be done with the cloned human embryo that is produced: will it be given the protection of a woman’s womb in order to be born, or will it be destroyed for its stem cells?

5. Somatic cell nuclear transfer is different from cloning. In fact, "somatic cell nuclear transfer" is simply cloning by a different name. The end result is still a cloned embryo.

6. By doing somatic cell nuclear transfer, we can directly produce tissues or organs without having to clone an embryo. At the present stage of research, scientists are unable to bypass the creation of an embryo in the production of tissues or organs. In the future it may be possible to use chemicals, hormones or even elements from the cytoplasm of a woman’s egg to "reprogram" a somatic cell (like a skin cell) into a stem cell, without ever creating an embryo. This is called "de-differentiation," and if this becomes feasible, there would be no moral objections to such an approach to getting stem cells.

7. Every body cell, or somatic cell, is somehow an embryo and thus a human life. People sometimes argue: "Every cell in the body has the potential to become an embryo when we do cloning. Does that mean that every time we wash our hands and are shedding thousands of cells, we are killing life?" The problem is that this overlooks the basic biological difference between a regular body cell, and one whose nuclear material has been fused with an unfertilized egg cell, resulting in an embryo. A normal skin cell will only give rise to more skin cells when it divides, while an embryo will give rise to the entire adult organism. Skin cells are not potential adults. Skin cells are potentially only more skin cells. Only embryos are potential adults.

8. Because no sperm is used in cloning, the resultant embryo can’t be a human being and it must be OK to destroy it for its stem cells. Normally when sperm and egg join, each provides half the DNA to make the full complement in the embryo. That embryo then grows to become an adult. When you do cloning, you avoid the first step of mixing parental DNA, obtaining the full complement instead from the nucleus of the regular body cell that is transferred inside the woman’s egg. That cloned embryo then grows to become an adult. Because Dolly the Sheep was made without sperm, this does not imply that she was some kind of being other than a sheep. Similarly, a human embryo made without sperm is not some kind of being other than a human. Cloning simply provides a workaround for the first step of fertilization, producing a genuine human who should never be destroyed for his or her stem cells.

9. Because frozen embryos may one day end up being discarded by somebody, that makes it morally allowable, even laudable, to violate and destroy those embryos. The moral analysis of what we may permissibly do with an embryo doesn’t depend on its otherwise "going to waste," nor on the incidental fact that those embryos are "trapped" in liquid nitrogen. If we imagine a coal mine with miners who are permanently trapped inside through no fault of their own, with the certainty that they are all going to die, that would not make it okay to send a remote control robotic device to harvest organs from those miners and cause their demise.

10. Because large numbers of embryos generated during intercourse are lost from the woman’s body and die naturally, that makes it permissible for us to destroy embryos in research. What Mother Nature does and what man may do are two distinct realities that should never be confused. If Mother Nature sends a tsunami that claims thousands of human lives, that does not make it morally permissible for me to take a machine gun and shoot into a stadium filled with thousands of people.

Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk did his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Yale University and post-doctoral research at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, prior to doing advanced studies in Rome in Theology and in Bioethics. He currently serves as the Director of Education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts.


"Health Mailbox,"  Columnist Tara Parker-Pope answers readers' questions, The Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2006; Page D3 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115861965030666793.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal

Q: I read your article on sodium and found to my horror that my sodium intake was off the charts (probably about 5,000 milligrams a day for the past two years). Will adjusting my diet correct damage already done?

A: Today, the average American takes in about 4,000 mg of daily sodium. The adequate intake for healthy body function in people under 50 is only 1,500 mg. People over 50 need only 1,200 to 1,300 mg of sodium. However, the Food and Drug Administration has said most people can safely ingest up to 2,400 mg of sodium a day -- that's equal to about one teaspoon of salt.

But whether high salt consumption has done any long-term damage depends on the state of your health at the time you start to reduce the sodium in your diet. The biggest health gains from reducing sodium consumption occur in people age 45 or older. If your blood pressure is currently normal, chances are your high-sodium ways haven't resulted in any permanent damage. And studies show that lowering the amount of sodium in your diet can produce quick results.

A major government study called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, included a sodium trial that focused on the role sodium plays in blood pressure. The researchers assigned participants to healthful diets with different levels of sodium. The biggest gains came when sodium intake dropped from 2,300 mg a day to just 1,500 mg. The lower-sodium diet lowered blood pressure in people with high blood pressure as well as those with normal blood-pressure levels, and the improvements showed up after just a month on the diet.

Unfortunately, for a person who has eaten a high-sodium diet for years and now has uncontrolled high blood pressure, there probably are some long-term health effects. Untreated high blood pressure takes a toll on the heart, and that damage isn't reversible. However, lowering sodium and treating high blood pressure could help many patients prevent future damage to their cardiovascular system, so dietary changes are still worth the effort, says J. James Rohack, a member of the American Medical Association's board of trustees and cardiology professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center.


Q: My sister is 47 years old, has had a mouth full of mercury fillings since childhood, and has had five healthy children. Lately she has been fatigued and achy. She thinks it may be fibromyalgia. Is there any chance that her fillings have affected her health? Are there any tests?

A: There is no evidence that mercury fillings create long-term health problems or produce the kind of symptoms you describe, and there is no known link between mercury fillings and fibromyalgia. One of the main questions about mercury fillings is whether they have any extra impact on pregnant women and the fetus. Given that your sister has five healthy children, the mercury fillings shouldn't be of concern. If your sister is truly concerned about the mercury fillings, she can request urine testing to find out if her mercury levels are unusual. However, your sister could also pursue far more likely causes of her fatigue and aches.

Fibromyalgia is a complex condition characterized by fatigue and widespread pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons. We all feel achy and tired at times, but people with fibromyalgia typically have multiple tender points -- places on the body where even slight pressure causes pain. Painful areas often include the back of the head, upper back and neck, upper chest, elbows, hips and knees.

The condition may also include symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating. Headaches and facial pain or stiffness in the neck and shoulders also are common. And many people report being extra sensitive to bright lights, touch, noises and odors. Other symptoms may include depression, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, concentration problems, mood changes, chest pain, dizziness, painful periods, and dry eyes and mouth.

The problem is, many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia are common and can be the result of stress, sleep disorders, depression and a number of other conditions. Doctors typically diagnose fibromyalgia when other conditions are ruled out. And it's typically diagnosed when there is a collection of symptoms.

One of the best things your sister can do for herself is to start keeping a health diary, tracking the foods she eats, her sleep habits and her stress levels. Health diaries can be purchased in any book store and some even include body diagrams that would allow your sister to mark each day what body parts are painful. Tracking her symptoms in this way may help her doctors home in the source of her health problems.


Question
Is there a bias among scientific researchers to accentuate the positive, deemphasize the negative?

"New Journals Bet 'Negative Results' Save Time, Money," by Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2006; Page B1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/science_journal.html

In ancient Greece, sailors who survived shipwrecks had their portraits displayed in a temple on Samothrace as a testament to the power of Neptune. When Diagoras of Melos was told that this proved that the gods insert themselves into the lives of men, he answered, "but where are they painted that are drowned?"

Today, showing only the rescued sailors would be called publication bias, the tendency of scientists to report findings that support some point (Neptune rescues sailors) but to bury examples (drowned sailors) that undercut it. It has existed for years, most seriously in the failure to publish studies that cast doubt on the safety or efficacy of new drugs.

Now, guardians of scientific probity are fighting back. A handful of journals that publish only negative results are gaining traction, and new ones are on the drawing boards.

"You hear stories about negative studies getting stuck in a file drawer, but rigorous analyses also support the suspicion that journals are biased in favor of positive studies," says David Lehrer of the University of Helsinki, who is spearheading the new Journal of Spurious Correlations.

"Positive" means those showing that some intervention had an effect, that some gene is linked to a disease -- or, more broadly, that one thing is connected to another in a way that can't be explained by random chance. A 1999 analysis found that the percentage of positive studies in some fields routinely tops 90%. That is statistically implausible, suggesting that negative results are being deep-sixed. As a result, "what we read in the journals may bear only the slightest resemblance" to reality, concluded Lee Sigelman of George Washington University.

Example: In the 1990s, publication bias gave the impression of a link between oral contraceptives and cervical cancer. In fact, a 2000 analysis concluded, studies finding no link were seldom published, with the result that a survey of the literature led to "a spurious statistical connection."

Keeping a lid on negative results wastes time and money. In the 1980s, experiments claimed that an antibody called Rap-5 latches onto a cancer-related protein called Ras, exclusively. Scientists using Rap-5 then reported the presence of Ras in all sorts of human tumors, notes Scott Kern of Johns Hopkins University. That suggested that Ras is behind many cancers.

Oops. The antibody actually grabs other molecules, too. What scientists thought was Ras alone was a stew of compounds. In part because the glitch was published in obscure journals, researchers continued to use Rap-5 and reach erroneous conclusions, says Dr. Kern.

"If the negative results had been published earlier, scientists would have saved a lot of time and money," adds Bjorn Olsen of Harvard Medical School, a founding editor, with Christian Pfeffer, of the Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine.

After a slow start in 2002, that journal is receiving more and better papers, says Dr. Olsen. One found that, contrary to other reports, the relative length of the bones of a woman's index finger and ring finger may not be related to her exposure to testosterone in utero. Another found that a molecule called PYY doesn't have a big influence on body weight; another, that variations in a gene that earlier studies had associated with obesity in mice and in American and Spanish women isn't linked to obesity in French men or women.

That may sound like the set-up for a joke, but studies that dispute connections between a gene and a disease are among the most important negative results in biomedicine. They undercut the simplistic idea that genes inevitably cause some condition, and show instead that how a gene acts depends on the so-called genetic background -- all of your DNA -- which affects how individual genes are activated and quieted. But you seldom see such negative results in top journals.

Hence, Dr. Olsen's journal, which is full of studies disputing reported links between gene variations and disease. The Sod1 gene and inherited forms of Lou Gehrig's disease? Probably not. MTHFR and the age at which Huntington disease strikes? Uh-uh. PINK-1 and late-onset Parkinson's disease? No.

Hopefully, each of these reports kept researchers, including those at drug companies, from wasting time looking for ways to repair the consequences of the supposed genetic association. But it isn't clear that any would have been published without the new journal.

Continued in article


Blogs recommended by Newsweek Magazine on September 25, 2006, Page 19


"Web 2.0 Winners and Losers," Wired News, September 20, 2006 ---
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,71810-0.html?tw=wn_index_2

A few weeks ago, I implored readers of the Monkey Bites blog to sumbit their votes for the best and worst Web 2.0 sites out there.

I asked them to build a list of their own can't-live-without-it and oh-please-make-it-stop destinations. After tallying up the votes from our readers, I posted the people's choice list on Monkey Bites blog. With their picks in mind, I set out to build my own roster.

There are plenty of good ideas in the Web 2.0 world, and an even greater number of bad ones. In the interest of brevity, I've chosen five sites from each category. The web services industry certainly has more than five winners and five losers, so we've only highlighted the exemplars.

I visited the very top of the iceberg and descended all the way down into the depths of suckitude to compile this list. Enjoy the results.

First, the Winners.

Flickr A picture is worth 1,000 tags.

I've known for a long time that if you want to demonstrate what tagging is all about to somebody who's new to Web 2.0, just send them to Flickr. The photo-sharing site has the best application of semantic categorization on the web. This is because they ask a question that invites creativity: What words would you use to describe a photo? The setup also makes searching the site a breeze.

Other things Flickr gets right: enhancing the community through pools, clusters and groups; options to preserve rights through Creative Commons; free and pro accounts; the open API. Odeo Listen up.

When podcasting arrived, everyone wanted in on the game. All you needed to get started was a microphone, some audio editing software, a web server, knowledge of peak limiting, compression, EQ techniques ... Ouch. Then Odeo breezed in and de-mystified the podcast.

Odeo allows users to record and share audio using simple, browser-based tools. A browser with Flash installed, an internet connection and a microphone are all you need to start podcasting. The site has tools for sharing and managing audio feeds, an extensive podcast directory and a contact manager that facilitates sharing audio between friends. The company even offers a component that gives mobile users the ability to record a podcast from their mobile phone. Writely Who needs MS Word?

The big, groundbreaking idea behind Web 2.0 is that the web should and will take over application hosting duties from the desktop. In other words, all of your documents, contacts, lists, e-mails and -- most importantly -- your office productivity tools live on the internet. They're all available no matter where you are or whose computer you're using.

Writely is a word processor that runs in the browser. It offers everything you'd expect from a word processor, including spell check, extensive formatting capability and support for dropping in images. Writely also makes it easy to collaborate with others. Your colleagues can log in and edit a document you started. Users can also collaborate over e-mail, and then publish the results to a blog when they're done. And, yep, it's free. del.icio.us Where'd I put that link?

Without del.icio.us, I'd be drowning in a morass of bookmark clutter. Seriously, drowning. Every article I've saved for later, every YouTube video I've earmarked for repeat viewing, every cache of free MP3s, every (ahem) NSFW page I come across. It all gets posted to del.icio.us. It's truly a lifesaver.

Del.icio.us takes a while to catch on with some people (what is "social bookmark sharing" anyway?) but once they get the hang of it, they're hooked. One-click posting from the browser bookmark bar, the ability to peek at what your friends are reading and the crazy stuff you find by running tag searches all add up to a truly useful web app. Not to mention the API that gives you RSS feeds, blog posting functionality and import/export capability between del.icio.us and your browser. I'll never lose a webpage again.

NetVibes Start here.

Remember start pages? Those portal-riffic pages that displayed local weather, news, daily horoscopes and sports scores were last seen in vast numbers circa 1999. But with the explosion of RSS and Ajax, a smarter breed of start page has emerged -- and the king of the hill is NetVibes. The Parisian company has created an aggregation tool that lets each user create a personalized page that pulls news feeds and data from web services into modular boxes. The boxes update automatically, and their display options are totally customizable.

NetVibes is built for nine languages. Users can pull in any RSS feed on the web, as well as Flickr photos, Alexa charts, to-do lists, Writely documents and shared calendars. There are even interfaces for webmail services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail. And, unless you want to access your personalized start page from another computer, no user registration is required. Très bon.

And now, the Losers.

MySpace No thanks for the ad.

They say 100 million users can't be wrong. Well, can't they? Regardless of how popular MySpace is or how many bands, web celebs or stalkers it continues to empower and enable, the social networking site is about as pleasant to look at as last week's cat vomit. The user interface is clunky and counterintuitive. Advertising is ubiquitous and invasive. The garish backgrounds and animated images seem sucked from some terrible time portal that leads straight to the nascent web of 1995. Oh, and auto-launching audio widgets and video players? Don't get me started.

Unfortunately, MySpace is going to be around for a while, so we'd better all get used to it -- or build something better and get everyone to switch. Squidoo Advice 5 cents.

If you're an expert on some obscure topic, you should be able to use that knowledge to gain fame and notoriety -- and maybe make a little bit of dough in the process. That's the idea behind Squidoo. It's a community site that encourages experts create a "lens," or a page that concentrates on a single topic.

The Lensmasters, as they are known, point curious users to resources on the web about their topic of expertise, giving topical search a more human touch. The Lensmasters earn royalties in the process through Squidoo's revenue sharing program. Sounds pretty revolutionary, except that the Lensmasters don't point you to anything that you can't find on Google. Some of the Lensmasters do a good job, but a number of the lenses are just glorified ads and many are bogged down by opinionated writing.

The bulk of the lenses on Squidoo are made up a few sentences written by the Lensmaster, followed by a dozen or so ads for books and CDs from Amazon. And, as TechCrunch points out, the best Lensmasters are only receiving about $30 per month for their work, much less than they could be making if they started their own blog and pulled in AdSense ads. Browzar Huckzter.

Upon its release in late August 2006, this new web browser promised the most secure browsing experience possible. Browzar purportedly kept your browsing secret by covering all of your tracks. The application wouldn't keep a history or cache, it deleted cookies and didn't record form or search data, according to Freeserve founder Ajaz Ahmed, Browzar's creator.

The blogosphere gave Browzar a glowing review, even though it was a little clunky and only worked in Windows. Then, a few days later, reports started showing up about Browzar's inability to completely delete page caches or browsing history. It was a lemon. And just in case that wasn't enough, it pushed users to its own branded search page full of contextual ads. No cookie for you, Browzar. Fo.rtuito.us Gimme.a.break

Fo.rtuito.us turns the social networking model on its head. Instead of relying on the traditional social software experience where you connect with people you already know or bond with strangers over common interests, Fo.rtuito.us delivers a total stranger, chosen at random, to your virtual doorstep.

You interact with that person for four days, discussing interests, sharing ideas and generally getting to know them. Then, you decide whether you have enough in common to actually be their friend and offer them the prize of adding them to your network.

It's an interesting idea, but it never took off. Even if you ignore the silly del.icio.us rip-off URL, you can't ignore the fact that traffic to the site has almost totally flatlined. What good is a social network that nobody uses? Friendster Tipped scalability.

Friendster was the original social networking golden child. When it first arrived, it was the coolest thing in the universe -- everyone just had to run to the site and set up a page. In fact, everyone did, and Friendster wasn't ready for its newfound popularity.

As the site's traffic grew and grew, page loads ground to a halt. People stopped going to Friendster, but they had already tasted the joys of online social networks. So, when the new kid on the block (MySpace) showed up and offered them a site with the same functionality that didn't timeout during the login process, the masses bailed. And the rest is history.

Bob Jensen's technology bookmarks are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob4.htm


From the Scout Report on September 15, 2006

Peer2Mail 1.61 --- http://www.peer2mail.com/ 

As more and more people navigate through their email accounts, they may find themselves wondering: How can I send large files to all of these different accounts? This whole process is made much simpler with the Peer2Mail application, and users may find a variety of uses for it. The program automatically zips each email segment, and in doing so, users will save room within each of their accounts. Released last week, this particular version of Peer2Mail is compatible with all computers running Windows 98 and newer.

Lucas_Dambergs 0.8.1--- http://www.maybevideodoes.de/howto/lucas.html 

Aspiring filmmakers and auteurs will find that this program gives them the ability to add notes onto their Quick Time movies, and these notes can help with the editing process. Essentially, the application allows users to insert a text file at various time intervals, making it a handy reference tool in the filmmaking process. This version is compatible with all computers running Max OS X 10.3.9 and Quick Time.

History, tradition, and innovation link MIT students to a long line of campus pranksters MIT students place fire truck on dome to honor Sept. 11th
http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=157134

The Great ’06 Cannon Hack
http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17439

The MIT Hack Gallery
http://hacks.mit.edu/

The Top Ten College Pranks of All Time
http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/newsletter/nov2002.html

Student Pranks at Princeton
http://www.princeton.edu/mudd/news/faq/topics/pranks.shtml

Bascom Hill Pink Flamingo
http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/museum/artifacts/archives/001660.asp


"Building a Family Tree Using an Upgraded Site:   Online Tools Let You Add Digital Documents to Data; Display Options Are Limited," by Walter S. Mossberg and Katherin Boehred, The Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2006; Page D4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/the_mossberg_solution.html

Drawing up a family tree has long been the job of the family member with the most patience and the steadiest hand. So it makes sense to look to technology as a means of helping to alleviate the work. For years, there have been software programs that helped with the job, such as Family Tree Maker for Windows and Reunion for the Macintosh. But the technology of genealogy has been moving to the Web, and now those Web-based tools have taken another step forward.

This week, we tested a recently revamped Web site, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com), which helps you build a family tree and can integrate your tree's data with 500,000 other family trees and records containing five billion names. The site has been around for 10 years, but an overhauled version that intends to be more complete and intuitive was launched in a prerelease version six weeks ago.

The new Ancestry.com offers numerous features, the most important of which is much better integration of the site's data with your own information. These data include census records, military draft-registration cards, marriage certificates and immigration records. Some of this information has been available before, on CDs and on the Web, but digging it up has largely been a separate process from creating a family tree.

You can build a family tree right on the Web site, without the need for stand-alone software, and you can share that tree with others. As names are added to the tree, icons that look like green leaves appear beside those of your family members to whom data on Ancestry.com might be linked. You can "grow" your tree by attaching those data if they're relevant, further enriching your finished product.

The site has some limitations, and it's expensive. But we really liked it and were excited to discover things like handwritten census entries from the early 1900s mentioning our forebears, or draft-registration cards for our grandparents and great-grandparents.

Ancestry.com can be used free -- as long as you're just using data that you provide, such as names, dates and geographic details. But the teasing leaves of information can be opened only if you pay. A U.S. Deluxe membership costs $30 a month or $150 a year. And a more expensive $40 a month or $347 a year World Deluxe membership lets you see family-history records from outside the U.S. as well.

These prices are hefty, but the information's value can be huge. And, the prices look smaller if you only need the research capability for a month or two. A more-limited version of the service, without the family-tree building features, is available free at some libraries.

Not everyone we typed into our trees had associated records. When we did get lucky, however, we grabbed the phone to share our findings with relatives, or emailed them images of the records. Your tree and all records attached to those in your tree can be shared via email with anyone else.

Ancestry.com is broken down into four major tabs for searching: Historical Records, Family Trees, Stories & Publications and Photos & Maps. We found it best to get started by creating a family tree, which helped us to get organized and to find other data using the green-leaf indicators. If you start out searching for data with only sketchy information, you might get frustrated.

If you've already created a family tree in a stand-alone program, you can upload it to Ancestry.com, as long as it's in the industry standard "GEDCOM" format. Walt successfully did so using a tree that he made five years ago.

It didn't take long for us to create a very basic tree with just a few generations, adding names, birth and death dates and locations (if we knew them). We named our trees and made them public, allowing others to use our data and vice versa. Even if you don't make your tree public, other Ancestry.com users can still learn the name, birth year and birthplace of a deceased person in your tree. They can also anonymously contact you for more information using the Ancestry Connection Service, if you opt to let them do so.

Things got exciting when we saw shaking green leaves appear beside the names of certain members of our family. Mousing over these leaves showed us the number of source records found on each person, and in some cases showed the number of other users' family trees that could match with ours. You can browse through these other trees, and if someone else lists your relative in their tree, you can automatically fill in blanks in your family timeline and merge those new facts into your tree.

In many cases, we could see digital images of a family member's source records including, in the case of our relatives' draft cards, an actual signature. If you like, you can share just the images of these documents with others via email. You can print a copy of any document, or save it to your computer's hard drive. You can also order large, high-quality copies of some documents; prices for these range from $8 to $25.

Each person on a family tree has his or her own page with a life-events timeline and the records that you attach to the profile. This page also has room for an uploaded digital photo of the person.

You can also search for family information using the other tabs. If you know what type of document you're looking for, you can start searching with that type of record, such as the data on immigration records.

As you continue to research your relatives, interesting facts show up on the side of the screen every so often. In Katie's case, one fact about her mother's family said, "Most Chapman immigrants to the US (1120) came from Liverpool, England, and Queenstown, Ireland." A corresponding link showed her a pie chart of the six areas from which Chapmans immigrated.

There are some important downsides to Ancestry.com. Its display of family trees and options for laying them out on the screen is far more rudimentary and limited than in the stand-alone genealogy programs. Its printing options are crude. The company is working on better display and output options, including books that contain your trees and related document images. Also, immigration records are limited because Ancestry's database currently omits Ellis Island in New York. The company says the Ellis Island data are coming within months. Foreign data also are severely limited.

Still, Ancestry.com is a rich site that uses a sensible layout and encourages learning.




From The Washington Post on September 19, 2006

How old is the average person who plays computer and video games?

A. 14
B. 28
C. 33
D. 55


 

Link forwarded by Auntie Bev

Multiple Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide --- http://www.snopes.com/medical/homecure/peroxide.asp

I would like to tell you of the benefits of that plain little O'l bottle of 3% peroxide you can get for under $1.00 at any drug store. My husband has been in the medical field for over 36 years, and most doctors don't tell you about peroxide, or they would lose thousands of dollars.

1. Take one capful (the little white cap that comes with the bottle) and hold in your mouth for 10 minutes daily, then spit it out. (I do it when I bathe or shower.) No more canker sores and your teeth will be whiter without expensive pastes. Use it instead of mouthwash.

2. Let your toothbrushes soak in a cup peroxide to keep them free of germs.

3. Clean your counters, table tops with peroxide to kill germs and leave a fresh smell. Simply put a little on your dishrag when you wipe, or spray it on the counters.

4. After rinsing off your wooden cutting board, pour peroxide on it to kill salmonella and other bacteria.

5. I had fungus on my feet for years - until I sprayed a 50/50 mixture of peroxide and water on them (especially the toes) every night and let dry.

6. Soak any infections or cuts in 3% peroxide for five to ten minutes several times a day. My husband has seen gangrene that would not heal with any medicine, but was healed by soaking in peroxide.

7. Put two capfuls into a douche to prevent yeast infections. I had chronic yeast infections until I tried this once or twice a week.

8. Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of peroxide and water and keep it in every bathroom to disinfect without harming your septic system like bleach or most other disinfectants will.

9. Tilt your head back and spray into nostrils with your 50/50 mixture whenever you have a cold, plugged sinus. It will bubble and help to kill the bacteria. Hold for a few minutes then blow your nose into tissue.

10. If you have a terrible toothache and can not get to a dentist right away, put a capful of 3% peroxide into your mouth and hold it for ten minutes several times a day. The pain will lessen greatly.

11. And of course, if you like a natural look to your hair, spray the 50/50 solution on your wet hair after a shower and comb it through. You will not have the peroxide burnt blonde hair like the hair dye packages, but more natural highlights if your hair is a light brown, faddish, or dirty blonde. It also lightens gradually so it's not a drastic change.

12. Put half a bottle of peroxide in your bath to help rid boils, fungus, or other skin infections.

13. You can also add a cup of peroxide instead of bleach to a load of whites in your laundry to whiten them. If there is blood on clothing, pour directly on the soiled spot. Let it sit for a minute, then rub it and rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary.

I could go on and on. It is a little brown bottle no home should be without! With prices of most necessities rising, I'm glad there's a way to save tons of money in such a simple, healthy manner.





Forwarded by Team Carper

Too Busy for a Friend..

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much." were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Viet Nam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.

The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot."

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."

< BR> Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."

"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all saved our lists."

That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be.

 

 




 

Purportedly the 100 funniest jokes of all time --- http://www.bluedonut.com/100jokes.htm

 

 




More Tidbits from the Chronicle of Higher Education --- http://www.aldaily.com/

Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
For earlier editions of New Bookmark s go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm 
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.

Three Finance Blogs

Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
FinancialRounds Blog --- http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/
Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) --- http://financemusings.blogspot.com/

Some Accounting Blogs

Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
International Association of Accountants News --- http://www.aia.org.uk/
AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
Gerald Trite's eBusiness and XBRL Blogs --- http://www.zorba.ca/
AccountingWeb --- http://www.accountingweb.com/   
SmartPros --- http://www.smartpros.com/

Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

Richard Torian's Managerial Accounting Information Center --- http://www.informationforaccountants.com/ 

Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
Phone:  603-823-8482 
Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu