Homeschooling and the computer: a match made in heaven? In many ways, yes. Homeschoolers can access lessons from online sites to successfully complete their education goals, but with a couple of caveats. First, the online lessons must be separate from public schools. Take the recent debate over a Herndon, Virginia-based provider of full-time public virtual schools called K12 Inc., with its various nationwide components, such as Virginia Virtual Academy, Florida Virtual School, and Massachusetts Virtual Academy. These are always incorporated into one of the states’ official public school districts. Thus, the twist on K12 Inc.: the word public, meaning tax-supported, and therefore subject to government oversight, with all the various “strings” and biases that go along with the federal government’s schools.
Republicans are amazing. It's possible they could lose the 2012 presidential election before 2011 is over. Really, they ought to rename that big river in Egypt (You know, “Duh Nile”) the Republican River. If you want to see an entire party in denial, with a few honorable and intelligent exceptions, look at virtually every Republican presidential hopeful but Ron Paul, the premier honorable and intelligent exception. The others will talk about balancing the budget — though they believe the SuperCommittee should get that job done for them before any of them gets to the White House — but none, with the exception of Ron Paul, is in favor of cutting the military spending, euphemistically called the “defense budget.” Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania made that emphatically clear when I spoke with him in New Hampshire on Sunday. The same Rick Santorum has on op ed piece in today's New Hampshire Union Leader calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. No cuts for our worldwide military empire and no tax increases, praise God, but do pass an amendment that will tell us we must balance the budget. What a wonderful opportunity for the Democrats to tell the country that these allegedly pro-life Republicans really love bombs more than babies — more than old folks, too, whose votes will be up for grabs in 2012.
The British government is looking for a way to jumpstart its stagnant economy. The plan is to use pension funds to invest in big construction projects to the tune of $46.5 billion. The announcement of this plan came before growth figures were announced by the Finance Minister. The news so far has been very bad. Retail sales fell at the fastest pace in two and a half years. The unemployment rate is at a 15-year high. The national deficit, which has hovered around 11 percent of GDP is not getting better. The OECD forecast on Monday that Britain would slide into a modest recession next year. The next day the British government announced that growth would be slower than previously believed and that it would need to borrow more money and would not be able to cut the budget as much as projected. George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, told Parliament that “debt will not fall as fast as we’d hoped.” The response of Britain’s public unions was to call for a general strike on November 30, which will cause slowdowns at airports, hospitals, and schools. Osborne also added, “If the rest of Europe heads into a recession, it may be hard to avoid one here in the U.K.” That is another major economic concern that Britain faces: the connection of the nation with the fate of European nations makes the prognosis for British recovery more dim.
The European crisis continues to mushroom, even as Eurocrats meet in Brussels to try to stave off implosion of the eurozone. Tuesday’s sale of Italian debt forced the government of Italy again to accept interest rates or “yields” in excess of seven percent, a level proven by experience to be unsustainable. Thursday will be another bellwether day, as Spain and Belgium — both of whose bonds are commanding steep yields — auction off debt of their own. But at the rate interests on government debt are rising across the eurozone, a few more weeks could write the epitaph for the once-touted international currency. While European politicians continue to insist, as politicians will, that Europe’s problems will be resolved and that the eurozone will be kept intact at any cost, the world’s financial and banking elites are apparently coming to a different conclusion. Banks and banking regulators in Asia, the United Kingdom, and North America are busily drawing up contingency plans for a eurozone breakup while trying to reduce their exposure to European debt. “We cannot be, and are not, complacent on this front,” declared Andrew Bailey, a regulator at Britain’s Financial Services Authority, last week. “We must not ignore the prospect of a disorderly departure of some countries from the euro zone.” According to the New York Times’ Liz Alderman, writing on November 25:
A month after a similar amendment was rejected by voters in Mississippi, pro-life leaders in Colorado have announced that they will work to place a proposed “personhood” amendment on the ballot in their state. The amendment, which has already failed twice in the state, is meant to “protect every child, no matter their age, race, gender, location, or size,” explained Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, the Colorado group behind personhood amendment efforts in a number of states. Proponents will need to get approval for the amendment from the Colorado Secretary of State, as well as about 79,000 petition signatures from state voters, in order for the amendment to make it to the ballot. While past personhood amendment language has been confined to a one-sentence declaration that defines unborn children as persons under the law beginning at conception, the new proposed amendment states: “In order to affirm basic human dignity, be it resolved that the right to life in this Constitution applies to all innocent persons.” The amendment goes on to declare, among other specifications, that the “intentional killing of any innocent person is prohibited,” and that “no innocent child created through rape or incest shall be killed for the crime of his or her father.” As for the pertinent definitions, the proposed amendment specifies that “‘person’ applies to every human being regardless of the method of creation,” and that a “‘human being’ is a member of the species homo sapiens at any stage of development.” Additionally, the amendment specifies that a “child” includes “a human being prior to and during birth.”
Well, now they have done it. On Tuesday a bipartisan total of 61 Senators voted for and only 37 voted against provisions in latest Defense Authorization Act that would authorize the President of the United States to arrest and detain indefinitely, without charges or trial, people suspected of being enemies, or linked to enemies of the United States. Most Democrats voted against the provisions but only two Republicans voted nay — despite the fact that it is the Republicans more than the Democrats who talk about the importance of abiding by the Constitution. The two Republican Senators who have both read and respected the Constitution of the United States and therefore voted against the travesty were Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The vote is such a blatant thumbing of senatorial noses at the Constitution of the United States that it might even be called revolutionary — or counterrevolutionary, meaning that it is an attempt to at least partially overthrow the revolution against the tyranny of the British crown beginning with the Declaration of Independence in 1776. When former Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) was criticized by some of his Senate colleagues for following a line of reasoning that is “pre-911,” the Senator, who cast the lone Senate vote against the controversial Patriot Act, replied that his critics were exhibiting a manner of reasoning that might be called “pre-1776.”
On the lookout for perceived injustices in the marketplace, Cornell University professor Robert Frank decided that Black Friday needed his attention and wrote in the New York Times about just what was needed: more taxes to discourage unreasonable behavior. His first complaint was about the unreasonable hours that stores were opening in an effort to respond to consumer demand: “For many years, stores opened at reasonable hours. Then, some started opening at 5 a.m., prompting complaints from employees about having to go to sleep early on Thanksgiving and miss out on time with their families. But retailers ignored those complaints, because their earlier start time proved so successful in luring customers away from rival outlets.” He then iterated the now-familiar theme of major retailers opening earlier and earlier, also in response to consumer demand. He said it was thoughtless of those greedy merchants to make such demands on their employees: “The costs to store owners and their employees are enormous: millions must now spend time away from home on the one occasion that all Americans, regardless of religion or cultural background, share as a family holiday.”
The Federal Reserve Bank committed some $7.77 trillion in funds to major Wall Street banks during the height of the 2008 financial crisis, according to a report published by Bloomberg News November 28 through a Freedom of Information Act request. It's unclear from the methodology explained by Bloomberg's analysis of some 29,000 Federal Reserve documents released how much overlap there is with the Government Accountability Office audit published last July that counted some $16 trillion in Federal Reserve loans to major Wall Street banks. Bloomberg's explanation of its methodology does indicate at least some overlap. Throughout the financial crisis, Congress remained blissfully unaware that trillions of dollars were being committed by the Fed with the implicit guarantee of the U.S. taxpayer. “We were aware emergency efforts were going on,” Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank told Bloomberg, but “we didn’t know the specifics.” Frank, who announced his retirement November 28 after the Massachusetts state legislature gerrymandered him out of his district, served as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee at the time the bailouts began. That committee is charged with oversight of the Federal Reserve and the banking industry.
Now that Newt Gingrich has become the latest in a series of Republican frontrunners, he is getting the kinds of scrutiny and attacks that have done in other frontrunners. One of the issues that have aroused concern among conservative Republicans is that of amnesty for illegal immigrants, especially after Gingrich said that it would not be "humane" to deport someone who has been living and working here for years. Let's go back to square one. The purpose of American immigration laws and policies is not to be either humane or inhumane to illegal immigrants. The purpose of immigration laws and policies is to serve the national interest of this country. There is no inherent right to come live in the United States, in disregard of whether the American people want you here. Nor does the passage of time confer any such right retroactively. The usually sober and thoughtful Wall Street Journal, on issues other than immigration, outdoes Newt Gingrich's claim that it would not be "humane" to deport illegal immigrants who have been living here a long time. A Wall Street Journal editorial says that it would be "psychotic" to do so.
Even if Congress' supercommittee had agreed on how to cut the national debt by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, it would still have been a total failure, an inconsequential bit of political grandstanding. With the federal debt officially projected to grow by $11 trillion over the next 10 years (and that’s probably an optimistic undercount), a cut of $1.2 trillion over the same period would simply result in the current $15 trillion federal debt ballooning to $25 trillion.