All posts by Debbie

What Kids Are Reading

Children ReadingGreen eggs, stick figures navigating school, football, foster children, and teen battles are all found in the books American children are reading. Robin Hood, stick figures navigating school, and teen battles are all found in books United Kingdom children are reading. There are many similar authors being read by US and UK students.

The reading habits are detailed in the 2014 reports for the school year 2012-2013, which was released by Renaissance Learning. The reading choices of school children are tracked through the Renaissance Learning Accelerated Reader (AR) program.

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House votes to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress

Lois Lerner
Lois Lerner

A contempt charge is usually to compel  either testimony or the production of documents.

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

The House voted 231-187 for a resolution holding Lerner in contempt. All the Republicans voted yes, along with six Democrats.

Lerner’s case will now be sent to the Justice Department, which then must decide whether to essentially prosecute Lerner in the case.

Minutes after the Lerner vote, the House passed a resolution asking the Department of Justice to appoint a special counsel to probe the IRS by a vote of 250-168.

House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement following the vote saying, “It’s time for Lois Lerner to account for her actions, and if she won’t then the full force of the law should be brought to bear.”

What happens next?  Will the Justice Department decide to prosecute?  Congress in 2012 voted to hold Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, in contempt of Congress for withholding documents related to the gun-running operation “Fast and Furious.” Holder saw his contempt of Congress vote as ‘partisan sport’.  Will Holder view the House vote holding Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress as partisan politics and do nothing?

Expect the issue to linger through the election season.

Online:  FoxNews:  House votes to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress
Vote Details:  On Agreeing to the Resolution: H RES 574 Recommending that the House of Representatives find Lois G. Lerner, former Director, Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform

**Update: IRS finally agrees to turn over ALL Lois Lerner emails to House Republicans – a day after she’s found in criminal contempt

Less than a day after former IRS official Lois Lerner was found in criminal contempt of Congress, her old agency has agreed to turn over copies of all her emails and other correspondence to one of the Republican-led House committees investigating the scandal that led to her retirement.

 

Field of Prey Book Review

John Sanford’s new suspenseful Lucas Davenport novel Field of Prey is superb.  An amorous couple discovers a body in an abandoned cistern in Minnesota.  It develops into a major investigation when the police began excavating and the body count increases.  Someone has been using the cistern to dispose of bodies for at least 10 years.  The investigation is headed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension with Lucas Davenport and the County deputies assisting.  They are looking for a serial killer who has been operating in small towns near the cistern.  Pressure builds as the authorities search for clues that lead to a surprising conclusion.  This is one of the best Davenport novels; witty and suspenseful.  A gripping page-turner that draws you into the story.

Field of Prey available at Amazon

Why You Shouldn’t Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

dollar_us

Yuck! Wash Your Hands.  New York University’s Dirty Money Project found  3,000 types of bacteria on a $1 bill.

In the first comprehensive study of the DNA on dollar bills, researchers at New York University’s Dirty Money Project found that currency is a medium of exchange for hundreds of different kinds of bacteria as bank notes pass from hand to hand.

By analyzing genetic material on $1 bills, the NYU researchers identified 3,000 types of bacteria in all—many times more than in previous studies that examined samples under a microscope. Even so, they could identify only about 20% of the non-human DNA they found because so many microorganisms haven’t yet been cataloged in genetic data banks.

Easily the most abundant species they found is one that causes acne. Others were linked to gastric ulcers, pneumonia, food poisoning and staph infections, the scientists said. Some carried genes responsible for antibiotic resistance.

“It was quite amazing to us,” said Jane Carlton, director of genome sequencing at NYU’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology where the university-funded work was performed. “We actually found that microbes grow on money.”

Online:  WSJ:  Why You Shouldn’t Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Boko Haram threatens to ‘sell’ kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

The fate of more than 200 Nigerian girls, that were kidnapped in April by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, has turned even more nightmarish when the leader of Boko Haram announced plans to sell them.

“I abducted your girls,” the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, said in the 57-minute video.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful”, has been waging a bloody insurgency to establish sharia law in northern Nigeria.

“I have kidnapped a girl in an school with Western education and that bothers you. I say that Western education must end – it must end! The girls must leave and get married,” he said.

Shekau also threatened to sell the girls.

“By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace,” he said in the video, which starts off with Islamist fighters lofting automatic rifles and shooting in the air as they chant “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great”). France24

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Supreme Court upholds prayer at government meetings

Supreme Court photoToday’s Supreme Court  ruling in the case of  Town of Greece v. Galloway, upheld that the American tradition of public prayer before a legislative session does not violate the Constitution. It protects the freedom of community volunteers to pray according to their faith in a public setting, without censorship and it defends the prayer giver’s freedom of speech over an “offended” person’s demands for censorship. Common sense won!

The Supreme Court Monday ruled 5-4 that prayers given before meetings of an upstate New York town council did not violate the First Amendment even if they stressed Christianity. The decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, wrote by Justice Anthony Kennedy, is likely to have wide-reaching implications. It upholds the centuries-old tradition of offering prayers at open government meetings, even if the prayers are overwhelmingly Christian.   For years activists have sought to require prayers that have no faith specific content, for example excluding and forbidding the mention of Jesus Christ.

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11 terrorists are being interrogated on suspicion of involvement in the disappearance of flight MH370

Boeing 777
Boeing 777

The Daily Mail is reporting that 11 terrorists are
being interrogated on suspicion of involvement in the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370.

 

The suspects were arrested last week in Kuala Lumpur and in the state of Kedah.  The Daily Mail reports that the suspects are members of a new terror group planning attacks in Muslim nations.
“The arrest and interrogations came after demands from the FBI and MI6.”

It has been revealed that flight MH370 was carrying cargo that was not listed on its manifest.  One of the consignments on the airplane  included  200kg of lithium batteries.

A group of 11 terrorists with links to Al Qaeda were yesterday being interrogated on whether they are behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

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Palestinian Unity Agreement

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Hamas is classified as a terrorist group by the United States government.  How will the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas affect foreign aid? Should Hamas and Fatah succeed in creating a unity government it would be illegal for the U.S. to provide foreign aid assistance to a group that it has classified as a terrorist group. Even through “Hamas has agreed to allow technocrats to run the new government” foreign aid funds could be misused and diverted to benefit Hamas.

Rival political parties Hamas and Fatah reached a reconciliation agreement in April.   These two groups envision forming a unity government within five weeks with general elections in December.  How credible and workable will this agreement be when other unity agreements have failed between these two parties as the fundamental issues that divide these two groups still remains?

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Confirmed case of MERS in the United States

camel photoThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced May 2nd the first confirmed case of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the United States in Indiana.  The person was providing healthcare in Saudi Arabia before traveling by plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London, England into O’Hara International Airport in Chicago, Illinois and then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana.  The U.S. patient began suffering symptoms April 27th.

The CDC is investigating along with health officials in Indiana; the CDC said “this case represents a very low risk to the general public.” Health officials do not know how the MERS virus spreads but it is thought it is transmitted from people who have very close contact with an infected person.

The MERS virus has been found in camels, but doctors are not sure how it is spreading to humans.  The hub of the MERS outbreak is Saudi Arabia.  Of the “401 confirmed cases of MERS infection in 12 countries all have originated in six countries in the Arabian Peninsula” states the CDC.

There is no vaccine, this virus’ symptoms are shortness of breath, coughing and fever. People with existing conditions or weakened immune systems are more at risk.

Photo by Bob McCaffrey

Online:  CDC announces first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus infection (MERS) in the United States Press Release

 

The Auschwitz Escape Book Review

The Auschwitz Escape unlike Joel Rosenberg’s other novels, is an inspired work of historical fiction based on “the greatest escape of all time,” writes Rosenberg.   Set in the darkness of the Nazi Regime that has begun sweeping across Europe, this is the story of two men prisoners in the Auschwitz camp who escape to warn the world of what the “final solution” means.

Jacob Weisz, a non-religious young Jewish man from Germany, winds up as a prisoner in Auschwitz after events that have gone terribly wrong.  He teams up with another prisoner, Christian pastor John-Luc Leclerc to make an escape with evidence of the horrors of Auschwitz.  This is Rosenberg’s first attempt at historical fiction and he has outdone himself with a well-researched story that is both breathtaking and heartbreaking.

The Auschwitz Escape available at Amazon