Sunday, June 19, 2005

Teacher Gifts Run the Gamut -- But No More Mugs, Please

Teacher Gifts Run the Gamut -- But No More Mugs, Please: "'Kids were giving teachers bracelets, expensive perfume and blouses,' said Dom Pendino of the Lower Merion Education Association, a Pennsylvania teachers union. Now a note goes out every year to remind parents to refrain from gift-giving. Teachers are required to turn over any presents they get (even brownies, they complain) to their principal."

Debate grows over teaching of abstinence | The San Diego Union-Tribune

Debate grows over teaching of abstinence | The San Diego Union-Tribune: "In public schools and after-school programs across the country, some children are being taught that saving sex until marriage can prevent emotional and health problems as well as poverty, substance abuse and suicide.

In addition to learning that romantic relationships can be sensitive and complicated, girls are told that they can lose a boy by offering too much advice, and that they can hang on to him by regarding him with amazement and 'wonder.'"

Saturday, June 18, 2005

BBC NEWS | Europe | Crucified nun dies in 'exorcism'

BBC NEWS | Europe | Crucified nun dies in 'exorcism': "A Romanian nun has died after being bound to a cross, gagged and left alone for three days in a cold room in a convent, Romanian police have said.

Members of the convent in north-west Romania claim Maricica Irina Cornici was possessed and that the crucifixion had been part of an exorcism ritual.

Cornici was found dead on the cross on Wednesday after fellow nuns called an ambulance, according to police.

On Saturday a priest and four nuns were charged in connection with her death.

...Mediafax news agency said Cornici suffered from schizophrenia and the symptoms of her condition caused the priest at the convent and other nuns to believe she was possessed by the devil.

...Father Daniel who is accused of orchestrating the crime is said to be unrepentant.

"God has performed a miracle for her, finally Irina is delivered from evil," AFP quoted the priest as saying.

"I don't understand why journalists are making such a fuss about this. Exorcism is a common practise in the heart of the Romanian Orthodox church and my methods are not at all unknown to other priests," Father Daniel added. "

'Saint Death' booms in border drug war - Yahoo! News

'Saint Death' booms in border drug war - Yahoo! News: "...drug traffickers seek favors from Santa Muerte they could not ask of saints venerated by the Church in Mexico, the world's second largest Roman Catholic nation.

'They say 'Protect me tonight because I am going to commit a crime. I am going to ambush my enemies, I am going to smuggle drugs to the United States,'' Aridjis said."

'Butchered' waitress turns up alive?

China and the USA have this in common: murdering their own citizens wrongfully convicted. The USA is the only country in the industrialized world the continues to practice the death penalty.

'Butchered' waitress turns up alive? - Yahoo! News: "Wrongful convictions are not uncommon in China where a campaign has been launched to clean up the interrogation and trial process."

Sanitation problems plague mountaineers

Sanitation problems plague mountaineers - Yahoo! News: "'They think they're going out on a pristine climb and there's virus-laden poo all around them,' said Dr. Bradford Gessner, a mountaineer and one of the study's authors."

Brazilian doctors uncover 'Michelangelo code' - Yahoo! News

Brazilian doctors uncover 'Michelangelo code' - Yahoo! News: "Two Brazilian doctors and amateur art lovers believe they have uncovered a secret lesson on human anatomy hidden by Renaissance artist Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel's ceiling.

...Barreto and his friend Oliveira are not the first physicians to see depictions of human organs in the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican church where popes are elected.

Fifteen years ago, U.S. doctor Frank Meshberger pointed out the figure of God and his surrounding angels in the "Creation of Adam" panel resembled a cross-section of the human brain.

He believes Michelangelo was equating God's gift of a soul for Adam with the divine gift of intelligence for mankind."

Indian forced to 'marry' her father-in-law rapist

Indian forced to 'marry' her father-in-law rapist - Yahoo! News: "NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian rape victim is being forced by village elders to 'marry' her rapist -- her father-in-law, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Community leaders in Charthawal village, backed by local Muslim clerics, believe that by being raped, 28-year-old Imrana's 10-year marriage has been nullified under Islamic law, The Asian Age newspaper said.

Holding a special council on Sunday, village leaders ordered the mother of five to leave her husband, Noor Mohammed, and live with her parental family for seven months and 10 days and make herself 'pure' again, The Age said. It did not say how she becomes pure.

After that, she must 'marry' her father-in-law and live with him, along with his legal wife.

'She... will then be like a mother to Noor Mohammed,' the paper quoted local cleric Shamim Ahmad saying.

Her four brothers have agreed to the edict. She has not but in India, victims of crime often have nowhere to turn and with even her own family supporting the edict she may have little choice.

Police are now investigating and say they plan to arrest the father-in-law. They refuse to comment on the village elders' ruling, saying it is a sensitive religious issue.


Retention Threat Sways Students on Tests

Retention Threat Sways Students on Tests - Yahoo! News: "Retention Threat Sways Students on Tests

By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press Writer 11 minutes ago

NEW YORK - High-stakes achievement tests that determine if a child is promoted to the next grade or held back a year are becoming more commonplace, and a growing number of school systems have learned that the threat of retention can be a strong incentive. However, the practice's effect on kids who are held back is still in dispute"

Book offers tips on beating commuter hell - Yahoo! News

Book offers tips on beating commuter hell - Yahoo! News: "'It's time to despair when you see people slumped back in their seats as if fallen there,' the book advises. 'People with their mouths open uncouthly, snoring, finally even drooling. They will be on until the final stop.'

...Breathing on somebody's neck to get them to move or feigning drunkenness, especially a need to vomit, are forbidden.

"That is not gentlemanly behavior," the book says."

Britons braced to grasp the nettle -- and eat it

Entertainment News Article | "'You have to adopt the correct technique to stand any chance of winning,' said Shane Pym, landlord of the Bottle Inn.

'The art is to fold the top of the leaf inwards, get it past the lips, crunch it and then get it down the neck. You can't let your mouth get dry or you will get stung.'

The championship has a short but colourful history.

It started in 1986 as a heated argument in the pub between two farmers who both claimed that the nettles at the back of their silage pits were the longest.

The landlady of the Bottle Inn intervened and declared an competition to resolve the dispute. Other farmers were also invited to take part.

Three years later, local man Alex Williams threw down a gauntlet to his rivals in the shape of a nettle measuring 15 feet 6 inches (4.7 metres). If anyone could produce a longer one, he boasted, he would eat it."

Ketchup mishap stains his reputation...

Ketchup mishap stains his reputation... - Yahoo! News: "LONDON (Reuters) - An email between a highly paid lawyer and a secretary over a tomato ketchup stain has become the talk of legal circles in London, leaving the sender distinctly red-faced.

British media reported with glee the tale of Richard Phillips who emailed the secretary to ask her to pay a four pound ($7.30) dry-cleaning bill after she accidentally spilled tomato ketchup on his trousers.

The secretary, who had just returned to work after her mother died, was so irate she forwarded the email to several colleagues at the firm of Baker & McKenzie, who in turn passed it on to others.

The emails quickly appeared on the Internet and in the press.

'Dear Jenny,' the lawyer wrote, 'I went to the dry-cleaners at lunch and they said it would cost four pounds to remove the ketchup stains. If you could let me have the cash today that would be much appreciated.'

Secretary Jenny Amner replied: 'With reference to the email, I must apologize for not getting back to you straight away but due to my mother's sudden illness, death and funeral I have had more pressing issues than your four pounds.

'Obviously your financial need as a senior associate is greater than mine as a mere secretary.'

Colleagues had offered to hold a collection to cover the bill but Amner paid it herself."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Crossing the line?

JS Online: Crossing the line?: "Lake Geneva student who wore dress to prom is suspended, fined $249
Posted: May 10, 2005

But now that he has been suspended from school for three days, is being forced to miss his last track meet (and a chance for the school's pole vaulting record) and has to pay a $249 ticket for disorderly conduct, Lofy's not so sure he picked the right battle to fight.

'Things got a little crazy,' Lofy said Tuesday from home, where the 18-year-old senior is serving the suspension after Saturday night's antics.

High school officials are not returning calls for comment on the case, but to hear Lofy tell it, this is a classic case of the price you pay for fighting for your rights of self-expression.

Lofy said he thought it would be funny to show up at his senior prom Saturday wearing a dress. Lofy went to the prom with Victor Anderson, a friend. Lofy says the school did not have any problem letting two males attend prom together, but school officials who had heard of Lofy's plan to wear a black dress warned him that he would not be allowed in the dance if he showed up dressed as a woman.

Lofy says he is not gay. He says he agreed to go with Anderson, who is gay, because Anderson is his friend and he wanted to go to the prom but didn't have a date. Anderson confirms this. Lofy concedes that he was uneasy going to prom with another male, and wearing a dress was a way to deflect other people's suspicions.

'I thought it would be funny,' he said."

The Education Wonks: Girls Wearing "Boy Bashing" Apparel: Where Is The P.C. Crowd?

The Education Wonks: Girls Wearing "Boy Bashing" Apparel: Where Is The P.C. Crowd?: "Girls Wearing 'Boy Bashing' Apparel: Where Is The P.C. Crowd?

While I was viewing The Fox News Channel yesterday afternoon, I saw something that grabbed my attention. They broadcast a 15 minute segment about a new fashion trend that seems to be caching-on around the country. Girls are wearing t-shirts and purchasing assorted other merchandise that bashes boys.

This stuff is being peddled by a company named David & Goliath (See Wall Street Journal article about the firm and its 36 year-old owner, Todd Goldman, right here.) and is aimed at teenage girls.

The Fox segment was shot at a boutique in Woodmere, New York, named Beautiful Girl. This shop specializes in sales of 'boy bashing' merchandise. The store has been selling lots of it.

Among the articles offered for sale by David & Goliath is the book Boys Are Stupid, Throw Rocks At Them. Inside this book readers are told:

Girls are bundles of joy and gifts from heaven. Boys pick their nose in front of 7-Eleven.

Girls smell sweet like fresh-cut flowers. Boys smell like doodie and never take showers.

It ends with: Just remember. For every stupid, smelly, cootie-ridden boy, there is a rock...

...Now I know what you might be thinking: "Don't be so sensitive EdWonk, this is just girls having a little fun. No real boys were harmed."

That is true.

But could you imagine what the outcry would be if it were the boys who were wearing the shirts and the girls who were the targets of those rocks?

Where is the outrage from the Politically Correct Crowd?


The Education Wonks: We Have Long Suspected This...

The Education Wonks: We Have Long Suspected This...: "The New York Times is reporting that when it comes to the essay portion of the new SAT test, size does matter:

He was stunned by how complete the correlation was between length and score. 'I have never found a quantifiable predictor in 25 years of grading that was anywhere near as strong as this one,' he said. 'If you just graded them based on length without ever reading them, you'd be right over 90 percent of the time.' The shortest essays, typically 100 words, got the lowest grade of one. The longest, about 400 words, got the top grade of six. In between, there was virtually a direct match between length and grade."

The Education Wonks: Cheating Teachers Get Their Just Deserts

The Education Wonks: Cheating Teachers Get Their Just Deserts: "What happened when several 'educators' in Houston, Texas got caught cheating on federally-mandated tests? CNN gives the answer:

Administrators in Texas' largest school district said Wednesday they plan to fire six teachers and demote two principals and an assistant principal after finding evidence of cheating on state tests at four schools.

Houston Independent School District Superintendent Abe Saavedra said three other district employees, including a principal, will receive formal reprimands.

It serves them right. Whenever an educator cheats on an exam, not only does the despicable act serve to cheapen the profession of teaching, but it robs parents and other educators of information that this vitally needed in order to identify each child's areas of concern for needed interventions. This was how the fraud was committed at one campus:

At one school, investigators found that four eighth-graders were taken from their regular classrooms to another room where a math teacher helped them answer questions.

The four answered all of the test questions the same way -- and incorrectly answered the same two questions.

I think that it would be safe to assume that in this instance the perpetrators weren't the sharpest pencils in the box."

Florida's Supreme Court hears voucher challenge - Florida's Supreme Court hears voucher�challenge - Jun 8, 2005: "TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) -- The state Supreme Court took up the legality of the nation's first statewide school voucher program, with the justices focusing on how it's funded and the implications for religion.

Voucher opponents argued Tuesday that the program unconstitutionally diverts money from public to private schools, and that it violates the separation of church and state provision of the state constitution.

Under the law, students at public schools that earn a failing grade from the state in two out of four years are eligible for vouchers to attend private schools. More than half of the 700-plus voucher students choose religious schools." - New school boom: Student population soars to highest level ever - Jun 2, 2005 - New school boom: Student population soars to highest level ever - Jun 2, 2005: "WASHINGTON (AP) -- Leave it to today's school kids to trump their baby boomer parents.

A total of 49.6 million children attended public and private school in 2003, beating the previous high mark of 48.7 million -- set in 1970 when the baby boom generation was in school.

The growth is largely due to all the children born in the late 1940s to early 1960s, who have since become parents themselves, the Census Bureau said Wednesday. Rising immigration played a part, too."

Pennsylvania school privatization effort collapses - Jun 1, 2005 - Pennsylvania school privatization effort collapses - Jun 1, 2005: "CHESTER, Pennsylvania (AP) -- Pennsylvania's first major experiment in school privatization is coming to an ugly end in this poverty-stricken city of abandoned buildings, vacant lots and closed-down shipyards on the outskirts of Philadelphia.

Edison Schools, a for-profit company hired four years ago to run eight of the city's nine schools, is pulling out in June, partly because it has not gotten paid about $4 million in fees.

The decision followed a tumultuous year that began poorly -- with book shortages, teacher shortages, and a riot at the high school that led to 28 arrests -- and got steadily worse, with Edison at the mercy of local officials when it came to control over the district's finances and getting the information it needed to do its job.

Among other things, it turned out that the district's poor accounting concealed a $35 million budget deficit. District officials said recently that without an immediate loan to pay teachers, the system would have just $9 left in the bank."

Student journalists sue school district - May 20, 2005 - Student journalists sue school district - May 20, 2005: "LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Student journalists sued their Bakersfield high school district Thursday in an effort to keep the school's principal from censoring student newspaper articles on homosexuality.

The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, requests an emergency order to allow the paper to publish the stories in The Kernal's year-end May 27 issue.

'The Kernal staff, along with the gay students we interviewed, we have lost our voices,' said the paper's editor in chief, Joel Paramo, a plaintiff in the case filed in Kern County court.

East Bakersfield High School Principal John Gibson said he blocked publication because he is worried about violence on campus.

'It's not about gay and lesbians. It's about student safety,' he said.

Paramo, however, said the principal's decision 'regrettably sends the unmistakable message that school officials would rather students keep closeted about their sexual orientation.'"

Teens' top 10 career choices - May. 26, 2005

Teens' top 10 career choices - May. 26, 2005: "Teen dreams: Top 10 career choices
Being a teacher ranks right up there with doctor and lawyer, according to a Gallup poll.
May 26, 2005: 3:09 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – Teachers may feel underpaid and unappreciated, but judging from the results of a career survey, they're inspiring a very tough crowd: teenagers.

The Gallup Youth Survey found that teaching is a top career choice for teens, ranking as high as "doctor" -- a frequent favorite – and just above "lawyer," another frequent mention."

Principal urges teachers to pass failing�students

Shame Shame Shame on Ms. Jones... - Principal urges teachers to pass failing�students - Jun 15, 2005: "SANTA ANA, California (AP) -- A high school principal asked teachers to reconsider the grades of failing seniors to help the school meet federal requirements under the No Child Left Behind law.

Saddleback High School Principal Esther Jones sent teachers a memo on Thursday asking them to reconsider the grades of 98 students, saying 'please review your records for these students and determine if they would merit a grade of 'D' instead of a failure.'

Jones added that the school needed 95 percent of its seniors to graduate to meet federal requirements. In fact, the school needs a graduation rate of 82.8 percent and will graduate nearly 84 percent of its 500 seniors on Wednesday, school officials said."

Teacher told to stop teaching creationism - Teacher told to stop teaching creationism - Jun 10, 2005: "ROANOKE, Virginia (AP) -- For 15 years, in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, Larry Booher taught creationism in his high school biology class. He even compiled a textbook of sorts and passed out copies in three-ring binders.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that creationism, the belief that God created the universe as explained in the Bible, is a religious belief -- not science -- and may not be taught in public schools along with evolution.

'Creationism is not biology and has no place in a biology class,' said Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. 'What makes it wrong is not the theory of creationism, but the teaching of creationism as part of a science class.'"

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Schiavo had irreversible brain damage-autopsy - Yahoo! News

Schiavo had irreversible brain damage-autopsy - Yahoo! News: "LARGO, Fla. (Reuters) -
Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who died in March after a fierce right-to-die battle that involved the U.S. Congress, was severely brain damaged and had no hope of recovery, said a medical examiner who made the results of an autopsy public on Wednesday.

The autopsy found no evidence to support her family's accusations that she suffered broken bones or other injuries as a result of abuse, and also cast doubt on allegations that an eating disorder contributed to her 1990 collapse.

The extensive examination of Schiavo's body found that her brain weighed only about half of what a healthy human brain would, Pinellas County medical examiner Jon Thogmartin, said at a news conference.

'Her brain was profoundly atrophied,' he said. 'This damage was irreversible.'"

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Kansas looks at redefining science - Kansas looks at redefining science - May 15, 2005: "The proposed definition has outraged many scientists, who are frustrated that students could be discussing supernatural explanations for natural phenomena in their science classes."

Monday, June 13, 2005

BBC NEWS | Europe | France holds 'Chameleon' impostor

BBC NEWS | Europe | France holds 'Chameleon' impostor: "A 31-year-old serial impostor who passed himself off for a whole month as a schoolboy - aged 15 - is being questioned by police in France.

Frederic Bourdin, nicknamed 'the Chameleon', attended the Jean Monnet school in Pau posing as 'Francisco Hernandez-Fernandez', a Spanish orphan."

Friday, June 10, 2005

Going commando? Chavtastic, says dictionary

Going commando? Chavtastic, says dictionary - Yahoo! News: "Thu Jun 9,10:02 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Whether it's 'back, sack and crack,' 'heteroflexible,' or 'going commando,' the dictionary is catching up.

The latest edition of the Collins English Dictionary published Thursday contains hundreds of new words that its editors say give a snapshot of how society is changing.

'Back, sack and crack' -- a beauty parlor waxing procedure made famous by English soccer captain David Beckham -- is officially defined as '(cosmetic depilation of) the back, scrotum and the area between the buttocks.'

'Heteroflexible' is someone who is usually -- but not always -- heterosexual.

'Supersize,' the fast food menu word for big portions, can now be both an adjective and a verb, as in 'supersize me.'

And to 'go commando' means 'to wear no underpants.'

The dictionary is filled with new terms referring to what Editor-In-Chief Jeremy Butterfield called urban tribes, like 'chav' and 'chavette,' both derogatory British slang for 'a young working class person who dresses in casual sports clothes.'

The related adjective is 'chavtastic.'

There are plenty of examples of language driven by technology. 'Instant messaging' and 'picture messaging' get definitions for the first time. So do 'Wi-fi' and the Internet bank fraud of 'phishing.'

The dictionary occasionally offers helpful advice. The definition of 'drink dialing' -- making a phone call while drunk, esp to someone about whom one has romantic notions -- notes that the practice is 'inadvisable.'"

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Canadian man dead after being shot in Honduras | Canadian man dead after being shot in Honduras: "Canadian man dead after being shot in Honduras

Associated Press

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — A Canadian man has died after an attack on a bus in Honduras on which he was riding, police said Tuesday.

Police spokesman Gustavo Farjardo identified the man as Jocelyn Masse, 21, of Isles-de-la-Madeleine, Que. He was travelling with Melanie Poirier, also of Isles-de-la-Madeleine, from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba in northwest Honduras when robbers attacked the bus on Saturday.

Masse was shot at point-blank range.

A police officer died at the scene while Masse died Monday in a hospital in San Pedro Sula, about 180 kilometres northwest of the capital, Tegucigalpa."

Student killed in Honduras

CBC Prince Edward Island - Student killed in Honduras: "Student killed in Honduras
Last updated Jun 8 2005 07:42 AM ADT
CBC News
CHARLOTTETOWN – A university student from Quebec's Magdalen Islands was killed Sunday as he tried to protect a friend from robbers during a trip to Honduras.

Jocelyn Masse and his friend, M�lanie Poirier, had travelled to the Central American country for a diving holiday.

They were passengers on a bus that was boarded by robbers.

Masse, a student at Laval University in Quebec City, was killed when he tried to protect Poirier from being attacked by the thieves, reports said.

Poirier is expected to return to Canada Wednesday."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Conservatives see liberal bias in class - and mobilize

Conservatives see liberal bias in class - and mobilize | "Concerned that public schools are becoming sites of liberal indoctrination, activists have generated a wave of efforts to limit what teachers may discuss and to bring more conservative views into the classroom.

After all, they say, if related campaigns can help rein in doctrinaire faculty on college campuses, why not in K-12 education as well?"

Monday, June 06, 2005

BBC NEWS | UK | Education | Bullies 'taking phone pictures'

BBC NEWS | UK | Education | Bullies 'taking phone pictures': "One in five young people has been bullied by mobile phone or via the internet, a study suggests.

The findings follow reports of so-called 'happy slapping' attacks - where assaults on children and adults are recorded on mobile phones and sent via video messaging."

Dolphins use sponges as tools - Jun 6, 2005 - Researchers: Dolphins use sponges as�tools - Jun 6, 2005: "
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A group of dolphins living off the coast of Australia apparently teach their offspring to protect their snouts with sponges while foraging for food in the sea floor.
'Cultural evolution, including tool use, is not only found in humans and our closest relatives, the primates, but also in animals that are evolutionally quite distant from us. This convergent evolution is what is so fascinating,' said Kruetzen."

Friday, June 03, 2005

U.S. Confirms Gitmo Soldier Kicked Quran

U.S. Confirms Gitmo Soldier Kicked Quran - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - The
Pentagon on Friday released new details about mishandling of the Quran at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects, confirming that a soldier deliberately kicked the Muslim holy book and that an interrogator stepped on a Quran and was later fired for 'a pattern of unacceptable behavior.'

In other confirmed incidents, water balloons thrown by prison guards caused an unspecified number of Qurans to get wet; a guard's urine came through an air vent and splashed on a detainee and his Quran; and in a confirmed but ambiguous case, a two-word obscenity was written in English on the inside cover of a Quran."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

What we still don't know

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | What we still don't know: "Even in a world which prides itself on its great knowledge and sophisticated detection methods, there are some questions only a few can answer.

Unsolved crimes, trade secrets and instances of political intrigue endure despite intense scrutiny from the media and the authorities.

Here are 10 things we still don't know."