Where absent money leaves gaps, ingenuity fills in. Nowhere is that more true than in Detroit's fire departments, where, as Detroit Free Press reporter Tresa Baldas shows us, a soda can full of jangling coins and screws alerts the Motor City's long-suffering heroes when there's an emergency.
The system is brilliantly simple: A soda can full of rattling metal is balanced on top of the fire department's printer at the end of the tray. When the printer spits out an emergency alert, the paper knocks over the can. The crash of the can hitting the floor tells firefighters that it's time to suit up.
Who has been in charge of the purse strings in Motown for the last four or five generations?
For the first time ever, U.S. public schools are projected this fall to have more minority students than non-Hispanic whites enrolled, a shift largely fueled by growth in the number of Hispanic children.
Non-Hispanic white students are still expected to be the largest racial group in the public schools this year at 49.8 percent. But the National Center for Education Statistics says minority students, when added together, will now make up the majority.
About one-quarter of the minority students are Hispanic, 15 percent are black and 5 percent are Asian and Pacific Islanders. Biracial students and Native Americans make up a smaller share of the minority student population.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the changing population a seminal moment in education. "We can't talk about other people's children. These are our children," he said.
The shift creates new academic realities, such as the need for more English language instruction, and cultural ones, meaning changes in school lunch menus to reflect students' tastes.
If children that are in this Country illegally are holding back the students that are, it's a recipe for disaster. We're already aware of how poorly US students compare to students around the World. Toss in the teachers having to try and "catch up" non-English speaking kids, and the English speakers suffer, furthering the cycle.
What is the most important thing on the mind of the woman who serves on a Presidential commission on educational excellence? It ain't school:
As the school-age population has become more nonwhite, it's also become poorer, said Patricia Gandara, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA who serves on President Barack Obama's advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Roughly one-quarter of Hispanics and African-Americans live below the poverty line - meaning a family of four has nearly $24,000 in annual income - and some of the poorest of Hispanic children are dealing with the instability of being in the country illegally or with a parent who is, Gandara said.
Focusing on teacher preparation and stronger curriculum is "not going to get us anywhere unless we pay attention to the really basic needs of these children, things like nutrition and health and safety, and the instability of the homes," she said.
So we can't educate them with more prepared teachers, and better course work, we have to feed them first? Is that really the primary job of the educational system?
The problem starts and ends with the Home. If education, learning English, and wanting to become an American Citizen is important to everyone in the home, the child will succeed. Unfortunately, the reality is that what I've outlined above is not a priority to non-English speaking families today.
Our rich history is overflowing with stories of immigrants that can to this Country, unable to read, write, or speak the language, who made a choice to assimilate, and do what Americans do in order to become one.
Instead, in Modern America, we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by asking them to respect our laws, learn our language, and pull their weight.
Now we have non-English speaking students becoming the majority in our schools, they are way behind where they should be educationally, and the kids that can speak the language and are up to speed will suffer.
Yet another reason why my daughter will stay in private school, no matter the cost.
As of August 3 newswires report, recent fighting in north and central Iraq results in ISIS fighters taking full control of Iraq's biggest dam at Haditha unopposed by Kurdish fighters who have made a strategic retreat to Kurd territory after losing three towns, and an oilfield to ISIS fighters. The Haditha Dam serving Baghdad, like a smaller dam serving Mosul which fell to ISIS fighters in June, was as early as 2007 identified by the US Special Inspectorate General for Iraq Reconstruction, a Pentagon watchdog, as a critical installation for enemy insurgent attack. This Agency highlighted structural problems at the two earthfill dams, needing constant grouting and backfill to prevent collapse, and warned of the catastrophic possibilities if either of them fell to insurgents - then called Al Qaeda in Iraq. Both of these dams are now in the hands of ISIS.
Due to their construction method and need for constant upkeep, both dams are relatively easy to rupture using only low amounts of well-placed explosives. The Agency warned that total rupture of the Haditha Dam could cause a 65-foot-high tidal wave in Baghdad City.
ISIS now has two powerful bargaining chips in Iraq. Its frankly apocalyptic general theory of forcing its Grand Caliphate into being would be served by the total destruction of Baghdad if the city and el-Maliki's government do not submit. In no way avoiding the Apocalypse but welcoming it, the effects on Iraq's oil production and oil exports can be imagined. Comparable insurgency, civil riot and rebellion and destruction of government is under way in both Syria and Libya. The extreme fundamentalist Sunni ISIS movement makes no secret of 'the prize' being the overthrow of albeit-Sunni ruling families, called 'impious and heretical' in the GCC countries.
That would have an interesting effect on the price of oil, wouldn't it?
Thank goodness we have a leader in DC that keeps showing his "smart diplomacy" skills.
Last week, Salwa Shabazz arrived at the office of a public health network here with a bag full of paperwork about her new health insurance — and an unhappy look on her face. She had chosen her plan by phone in March, speaking to a customer service representative at the federal insurance marketplace. Now she had problems and questions, so many questions.
“I’ve had one doctor appointment since I got this insurance, and I had to pay $60,” Ms. Shabazz told Daniel Flynn, a counselor with the health network, the Health Federation of Philadelphia. “I don’t have $60.”
Mr. Flynn spent almost two hours going over her Independence Blue Cross plan, which he explained had a “very complicated” network that grouped doctors and hospitals into three tiers. Ms. Shabazz, who has epilepsy, had not understood when she chose the plan that her doctors were in the most expensive tier.
“None of that was explained when I signed up,” she said. “This is the first I’m hearing it.”
Many people who signed up for private coverage through the new marketplaces had never had health insurance, and even the basics — like what a premium is and why getting a primary care doctor is better than relying on the emergency room — are beyond their experience. Others have a sense of how insurance works but find the details of the marketplace plans confusing, especially if they signed up without the help of someone who understood them.
When it comes times to renew, do you thjink most people in this situation will do their homework, or just let their policies lapse, knowing they can pay a fine, and get coverage when they truly need it?
Ms. Shabazz’s mother, Waheedah Shabazz-El, who had accompanied her to the appointment, shook her head as her daughter wiped away tears. “There are so many layers to this,” Ms. Shabazz-El said.
Not quite the way it was sold to you by the President, Ms. Shabazz?
When the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles started accepting appointments from foreign nationals online July 1, it received as many as 107,500 page views an hour, crashing the system for several days. The DMV expects to process 9,551 applicants through September.
“We are disappointed the department will only give licenses to those who are here unlawfully at five offices and by appointment only,” said Denise Maes, public policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. “They can only take appointments 90 days in advance and all of those are booked.”
Here's the part that made me do a double take:
The bill’s passage capped a multiyear effort by immigrant rights advocates in Colorado to secure a law that would allow those in the country illegally to apply for a drivers license.
“We’ve been working on this for more than three years now,” said Tania Valenzuela, a 24-year-old housekeeper who served on a committee that failed in 2011 to collect enough signatures to put a measure on the ballot allowing immigrants to obtain licenses.
“We thought it would roll out well but that hasn’t been the case,” said Valenzuela, who immigrated to Colorado illegally from Chihuahua, Mexico, 16 years ago and drives without a license. “It will take a few years for everybody to secure an appointment and that’s not acceptable -- it’s the law.”
Catch that? The person who came to this Country 16 years ago - breaking the law in the process, and breaks the law every day when she drives her car - is upset that the law isn't being followed.
It was announced today that an additional 7.6 million U.S. vehicles are being recalled. GM stock is trading around $37 today (you'll recall it needed to hit around $55 a share for the taxpayers to break even on their "investment").