Month: November 2014

Moving past Ferguson

The aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. last August has included riots, protests, punditry that spans the political spectrum and a grand jury that decided this week no criminal charges are warranted against police officer Darren Wilson. The announcement of the grand jury’s decision by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch Monday night set off riots in Ferguson and protests across the nation. According to McCulloch the grand jury read thousands of pages of documents and listened to 60 witnesses over 70 hours from August to mid-November. It was an exhaustive amount of evidence for the 12-person body. In the end the grand jury said no crime was committed. That was not what many in Ferguson wanted to hear. As Mr. McCulloch said, there were conflicting eyewitness account, witnesses who changed their story once faced with evidence. The only people who had access to all of the evidence were the people on the grand jury. After several days of deliberation they made their decision, but we don’t know what the final vote was—a grand jury’s decision does not have to be unanimous. People can disagree with the jury’s decision, be angry and protest. Due to the prosector’s release of all the evidence everyone (who bothers to read it) can decide for themselves if the right decison was made. It was the grand jury’s decision to...

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Jesus missing in the Holiday Guide

To the Editor: Just this morning I received the Keizertimes 2014 Holiday Gift and Event Guide in the mail. It was filled with loads of gift ideas and local events. You can buy diamonds, veterinary services, flowers, meals at McDonalds or Subway, and much, much more.  Even a holiday subscription to the Keizertimes! There is no shortage of events to enjoy either. Holiday bazaars, tree lightings, light displays, and a number of parades. You can have tea with Mrs. Claus and Santa himself even helicopters into the Volcanoes’ Stadium. In the guide you will learn some tips on entertaining, tackling holiday messes, transforming turkey leftovers and how to make the holidays easier. There are some more altruistic offerings as well: toy drives, food collections for the needy, and of course Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. However, one thing was glaringly missing—nowhere in the entire guide did the name Jesus or Christ appear. Not once. Yes, Christmas or the politically-correct “holidays” were mentioned but seemingly all the emphasis was on everything except the person for whom the “holiday” (holy day) is supposedly honoring. Even the article about St. Edward’s might lead the reader to believe Christmastime (“the most popular time of year”) is more about the décor of the new building (“We don’t want to distract from the altar and the crucifix.”) than celebrating the birth of the savior of...

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Teachers are a constant in kid’s lives

To the Editor: Sometimes I call parents’ homes in the evening to tell them how well their student is doing in class, or what an exceptional effort or improvement s/he is making. Almost invariably, the appreciative response will be something along the lines of, “How kind of you to call! I wish more teachers cared like that.” Here’s what I wish that they knew (and which I summarize for them): They do care like that. High school teachers have, for example, in the realm of 180 students per day, and 47 minutes in which to grade their papers and plan the following day’s lessons. It’s clear that the average teacher takes home a whole lot of work. Additionally, of that time, they are scaffolding, attending IEP meetings, filling in IEP feedback response forms, answering e-mails, entering scores, grading papers and a host of other tasks that require time that they don’t have. I can’t imagine that anyone, ever, has gone into teaching for the money. In fact, with high school teachers’ being required to hold a minimum of a master’s degree, it will take most teachers years to recoup the monies that they invested on behalf of their students’ learning. We go into teaching, the vast majority of us, because we love kids. Period. In fact, the kids are the good part of the job. As families continue to...

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How to get past political impasses

A Box of Soap by Don Vowell A foundation of gratitude and hope supports all that happens between now and the New Year. As viewed against the national climate of calamity and dire prediction it’s an optimism hard to justify.  Where change is possible there can be hope.  Since change is the one constant in life there can always be optimism. If the nation seems sour right now it is because change is dreaded instead of being welcomed. The economy is sound enough, more so for some than others.  The rate of employment continues to improve, though wages do not. Health care has been made available to millions more Americans, though the required profit-taking makes it the most expensive on the planet.These changes don’t seem so bad. For these changes we have chosen to punish a president whose favorability ratings have fallen below 40 percent by handing a Congressional majority to a party whose favorability rating needs a stool to reach 10 percent.  Do we not remember January, 2009? Senate Majority Leader-to-be  Mitch McConnell grumpily warned that if President Obama went ahead with executive action dealing with immigration it would “poison the well” of bi-partisan cooperation.  That would be a waste of good poison.  That well went dry in 2009 at the president’s inauguration and has only a little toxic sludge festering at the bottom. Sen. McConnell vowed at...

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Action is not amnesty or citizenship

We now know that President Obama’s new immigration policy is not amnesty or a way for people to avoid deportation any more than it is automatic citizenship.  Rather, it is work authorization that will not provide social welfare benefits but will allow employers to continue to exploit immigrant labor. It will build on the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, offering some undocumented youth temporary, renewable reprieve from deportation.  Meanwhile, protection of a similar nature will be granted to several million undocumented adults who have children with citizen or green card status and have five years of clean record status.  Then, too, more of these folks will gain relief by way of the original Deferred Action for more childhood arrivals along with permission to bring in more skilled tech-sector workers. President Obama cannot bring about a total overhaul of the immigration system single-handedly.  Republicans are into their throwing verbal barbs mode again, threatening to derail the plan through procedural countermeasures or lawsuits while opponents of Obama pronouncements can rest easy because the majority of undocumented people will continue without papers and have no recourse to avoid deportation. It’s true that while the news for millions is fairly good and promising of a future here, youth who were part of the 2012 reprieve, the DACA set, will realize their parents are excluded from the allowing measures.  The latest reforms deny undocumented parents of DACA...

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