Patterico's Pontifications


Berkeley Levels the Educational Playing Field

Filed under: Education — DRJ @ 10:14 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Berkeley High School will consider a proposal to eliminate science labs and teachers in order to free up funds for minorities. Why? Because the labs primarily benefit white students and eliminating them will free up resources to help more struggling minority students:

“The proposal to put the science-lab cuts on the table was approved recently by Berkeley High’s School Governance Council, a body of teachers, parents, and students who oversee a plan to change the structure of the high school to address Berkeley’s dismal racial achievement gap, where white students are doing far better than the state average while black and Latino students are doing worse.

Paul Gibson, an alternate parent representative on the School Governance Council, said that information presented at council meetings suggests that the science labs were largely classes for white students. He said the decision to consider cutting the labs in order to redirect resources to underperforming students was virtually unanimous.”

Joanne Jacobs explains the targeted science labs are scheduled before and after the regular science classes. Eliminating them would “cut science instruction time by 21 percent in most science classes, 30 percent in AP classes.” In an update, Jacobs notes an education group’s argument that “extra lab time is most important for struggling students.”

Apparently this is part of Berkeley High School’s answer to reduce a performance gap between white and minority students. It seems to me struggling students of every race would be better served by more science labs, not fewer ones, but this will be especially hard on any minority student currently benefiting from a science lab. I guess they and their white counterparts must sacrifice so more Berkeley High students score the same.

In other words, Berkeley may be leveling the educational playing field down.


Vermont Judge Grants Custody to Birth Mother’s Former Lesbian Partner

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 8:56 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I predict this Vermont child custody case will stir controversy:

“[Lisa] Miller and [Janet] Jenkins were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000. Isabella was born to Miller through artificial insemination in 2002. The couple broke up in 2003, and Miller moved to Virginia, renounced homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian.

[Vermont Judge] Cohen awarded custody of the girl to Jenkins on Nov. 20 after finding Miller in contempt of court for denying Jenkins access to the girl.

The judge said the only way to ensure equal access to the child was to switch custody. He also said the benefits to the child of having access to both parents would be worth the difficulties of the change.”

Miller’s lawyers don’t know where she and Isabella are, suggesting she does not intend to comply with the court’s custody decision.


A Miracle in Denver (Updated)

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 8:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

… and it involved the birth of a baby on Christmas Eve:

“Mike Hermanstorfer was clutching his pregnant wife’s hand when her life slipped away in a Colorado hospital on Christmas Eve, and then he cradled his newborn son’s limp body seconds after a medical team delivered the baby by Cesarean section.

Minutes later he saw his son come to life in his arms under the feverish attention of doctors, and soon he learned his wife had inexplicably come back to life.

“My legs went out from underneath me,” Hermanstorfer said Tuesday. “I had everything in the world taken from me, and in an hour and a half I had everything given to me.”

A Christmas to remember.


UPDATE: Video here.

Abdulmutallab in London

Filed under: Air Security,Terrorism — DRJ @ 7:38 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The UK Times has more information about Northwest Flight #253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s time in London:

  • Abdulmutallab was a former president of the Islamic Society at University College London.
  • The Islamic Society “advertised speakers including political figures, human rights lawyers and former Guantánamo detainees” during events such as Abdulmutallab’s conference entitled “War on Terror Week.” The Society also sponsored a seminar called Jihad v Terrorism, “a lecture on the Islamic position with respect to jihad”.
  • Abdulmutallab “is the fourth president of a London student Islamic society to face terrorist charges in three years. One is facing a retrial on charges that he was involved in the 2006 liquid bomb plot to blow up airliners. Two others have been convicted of terrorist offences since 2007.”
  • US intelligence authorities are investigating conversations between Abdulmutallab and at least one al-Qaeda member.
  • The material Abdulmutallab ignited on Northwest Flight #253 shot 6 foot flames up the cabin wall.
  • The Dutch say Abdulmutallab had a valid passport and visa: “He had a passport and a valid visa for the United States and KLM had clearance on the passenger list to carry him to the US.”
  • — DRJ

    Abdulmutallab in Houston (Updated)

    Filed under: Air Security,Terrorism — DRJ @ 7:36 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Houston’s ABC affiliate KTRK is investigating Northwest Flight #253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s time in Houston:

  • Abdulmutallab may have signed up and paid for Islamic education classes in Houston during the summer of 2008. It’s not clear if he attended any classes.
  • The classes were provided by the Al Maghrib Institute, “a non-profit organization aimed at teaching an in-depth study of the Islamic religion” that operates throughout the United States and Canada.
  • The Al Maghrib Institute notifies the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Transportation Security Administration of any foreign students such as Abdulmutallab.
  • The Al Maghrib Institute has scheduled a Wednesday morning press conference. Presumably whether Abdulmutallab attended the Houston course will be answered then.
  • There isn’t much information on Abdulmutallab’s time in Houston yet, but hopefully the media will keep investigating.

    — DRJ

    UPDATE 12/30/2009: The Al Maghrib Institute confirmed today that Abdulmutallab attended a 2-week summit with 150 other students in August 2008. Apparently Abdulmutallab did not attend the local mosque while he was in Houston:

    “Abdur Rahman T. Adesokan, the imam of Masjid-ul-Mumineen, the main Nigerian Muslim association in Houston, said he had not spoken to any members of the Nigerian Muslim community who had met Abdulmutallab. He also said he didn’t believe that Abdulmutallab visited the community’s mosque here.

    “We are not happy with this, none of our community is happy with what happened or that he’s Nigerian,” Adesokan said. “It is bad, bad, bad.”

    We need more Muslims talking like this.

    L.A. Times Columnist Fabricates Quote, Slandering Anti-ACORN Activist

    Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:34 pm

    I knew he’d done it. All I had to do was prove it. Now I can.

    Remember James Rainey? He’s the hapless L.A. Times columnist who told his readers that an L.A. ACORN worker had refused to help Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe with an underage prostitution ring. Trouble is, Rainey never contacted Giles or O’Keefe to verify the story. And when we learned that the ACORN worker had been eager to help Giles and O’Keefe, Rainey got enough egg on his face to make omelettes for a platoon of haughty Frenchmen.

    Stung to the quick, Rainey wrote an ass-covering column that minimized his error, and said the following about O’Keefe:

    So what sort of creature does this make O’Keefe? I don’t disagree with his observation in a previous interview with The Times that he follows the mold of filmmaker Michael Moore, using confrontation to get at his version of the truth.

    O’Keefe adamantly denied this quote to me, calling it a “complete fabrication.” He told me that it was possible that he had mentioned Michael Moore in an interview with an L.A. Times reporter, But O’Keefe strongly denied telling anyone that he “follow[ed] the mold” of Moore, or that he “us[ed] confrontation to get at his version of the truth.” O’Keefe told me that he believed this alleged quote bordered on defamation, as Moore uses deceptive editing techniques to push his agenda, while O’Keefe does not.

    I tracked down the original quote — and it appears James Rainey put a few words in James O’Keefe’s mouth. Here is what O’Keefe actually said, according to reporter Robin Abcarian:

    I am in NY and trying to do these videos full time. A lot of them are undercover. Veritas Visuals, I can show you some links, did some investigation for, a parody up on YouTube. I want to be the conservative version of Michael Moore and Jon Stewart and Jackass and Trigger Happy TV. Combine those elements to promote the conservative agenda thru those means.

    Rainey’s version unfairly rewrites the actual quote. O’Keefe never actually said that he “follows the mold” of Michael Moore to “us[e] confrontation to get at his version of the truth.” Rainey made it sound like O’Keefe admitted seeking something less than the full truth. But O’Keefe told me that he seeks the full truth and resents Rainey’s false implication that he admitted otherwise.

    I asked O’Keefe why he mentioned Michael Moore and the others. He explained:

    Michael Moore’s documentary films do a good job of interlacing music and b-roll in between interviews to tell a vivid story. Jon Stewart’s correspondents ask facetious or outrageous questions of interviewees. Jackass uses the shock factor, and Trigger Happy TV’s short videos are viral and entertaining.

    My investigative videos do not “follow the mold” of Michael Moore’s distortions any more than they “follow the mold” of Jackass’s throwing oneself down stairs in a shopping cart. I meant to admire some of the qualities — cinematography and shock value, respectively — of each.

    Rainey’s quote is not a fair paraphrase of O’Keefe’s words. It’s not what O’Keefe said, and it’s not what he meant. It’s a fabrication, pure and simple.

    I have been a recent victim of a dishonest person who tried to put words in my mouth. It’s infuriating and wrong. When it happens to others, I will fight on their behalf.

    James Rainey put words in James O’Keefe’s mouth. He owes James O’Keefe a correction.

    Obama Cites ‘Systemic Failure’ in Terror Attack

    Filed under: Air Security,Obama,Terrorism — DRJ @ 5:03 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    President Obama acknowledged a “systemic failure” enabled the terrorist attack on Northwest Flight #253:

    “The president, in his most extensive comments so far on what went wrong in the security process, said information about the terror suspect was not properly shared among intelligence agencies. He said that information, particularly a warning to authorities from the 23-year-old suspect’s father in Nigeria, should have landed him on a no-fly list well before he boarded the Northwest Airlines flight in Amsterdam.

    “The warning signs would have triggered red flags and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America,” Obama said. “A systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that totally unacceptable.”

    Did it really take Obama 4 days to decide there was a “systemic failure” in the government’s handling of the events that led up to this attack? After all, even the CIA has admitted Abdulmutallab was on the government’s radar for a month:

    “We learned of Abdulmutallab in November, when his father came to the U.S. embassy in Nigeria and sought help in finding him,” Paul Gimigliano, a CIA spokesman said. “We did not have his name before then. Also in November, we worked with the embassy to ensure he was in the government’s terrorist database-including mention of his possible extremist connections in Yemen. We also forwarded key biographical information about him to the National Counterterrorism Center.”

    Once again, Obama has asked for an investigation and improvement of the government’s terrorist watch list. And when I say once again, I really mean once again. Where was this reform that Obama pledged to undertake as both a candidate and as President-elect?

    — DRJ

    Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach Suspended

    Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 2:10 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach has been suspended from coaching his team in Saturday’s Alamo Bowl because of complaints he mistreated receiver Adam James, son of ESPN analyst and former SMU great Craig James:

    “The A-J learned that on Dec. 17, Leach ordered James to stand in a dark shed at the Tech football practice facility because he thought James was faking a concussion he’d suffered during practice the previous day. Leach had him watched, and when James sat down, Leach had things removed from the shed so he could not sit.

    Two days later, Leach forced James to stand in a dark room for three hours. “Mr. and Mrs. James took the step with great regret and after consideration and prayer to convey to the Texas Tech Administration that their son had been subjected to actions and treatment not consistent with commonsense rules for safety and health,” the James family said in a statement issued through a publicist.”

    Leach reportedly admitted the allegations but claims he did nothing wrong and refused to apologize. Leach’s attorney defended his conduct:

    “[Ted] Liggett said it’s “ridiculous” to characterize the building adjacent to the team’s practice fields as a “shed” or an “electrical closet.”

    “Because of the fact that he had a concussion and he was extremely limited in the physical activity he could undergo, Mike felt like that was the best place for him and still be close to and part of the team,” Liggett said.

    Liggett said while James was secluded on two occasions, he was not treated inappropriately and had a doctor’s statement attesting to that.

    “There’s much, much more than meets the eye,” Liggett said. “The diagnosing doctor has signed a note stating that Adam James was in no way injured by the actions coach Leach took. In fact, he was better off in the building than he would have been outside.”

    Leach, who is known for his bluntness, also “told officials James was a slacker and his father was always calling and acting like a Little League dad.”

    — DRJ

    Shades of Bernie Madoff

    Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 2:00 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Who are the foolish and greedy ones here?

    “Twin brothers living with their mother in New York were arrested and charged with stealing more than $2 million from investors, mostly through an account with Fidelity Investments.

    Makara and Tsele Nkhereanye, 38, were indicted on multiple counts of grand larceny, securities fraud, forgery and scheme to defraud, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said today in a statement.

    The brothers falsely claimed to be successful stock traders and persuaded more than 30 people to invest with them from January 2005 to June 2009, according to the statement. They are to be arraigned today in New York state court.

    “Some investors were sufficiently taken in by what they believed to be monthly profits from their investment that they invested additional amounts, some even taking out loans to make their investments,” according to the statement.”

    The men claimed to make profits of 10-23% per month and bilked investors from the “New York metropolitan area, with a few from Oregon and California.” The investors heard of the brothers — who are natives of the African nation of Lesotho — through word of mouth.

    Perhaps one reason investors believed the brothers could attain such fantastic results is that they are graduates of Princeton University and Stanford University.

    — DRJ

    Shocking New Photo Revealed

    Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:15 am

    Depicting the couple that was able to sneak into the White House without the proper credentials.

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