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True North Archives - November 20, 2007
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Educational Segregation
By Bruce Shields

Surely the entire reason for public education is to break the linkage between poverty and education.  Economic data shows a strong correlation between years of schooling and lifetime income levels, and a modest correlation between rank in school and income.  Vermont education as presently constituted is reinforcing economic segregation, and creating an ever sharper divide between the haves and have nots. The failure of our schools helps fill our prisons with economically disabled young men. The present governance of our schools is designed to make life comfortable for employees, and not to focus on a successful outcome for the consumers of education. Vermont schools should not be permitted to continue to enforce economic segregation.

Utah's School Choice Lessons for Vermonters
By John McClaughry

Vermonters are taxing themselves some $1.4 billion a year - most of it through property taxes - to pay to give their kids an education. One would think that the leading policy issue would be, "How can we get the best possible education for our kids with that large amount of tax dollars?" Or "How can we get as good an education for our kids with a less painful tax burden?"

But alas, the majority in Montpelier frames the issue as "what do we need to do to strengthen the public school monopoly for the benefit of the politically powerful people who profit by it (and elect us), regardless of what's best for Vermont's kids?"

Congestion Pricing
By Martin Harris

Congestion Pricing is usually based on vehicular traffic and two related functions: one is the use of extra expense to discourage vehicles from using some part of a road or street system which is already over-crowded, and the other is to fund construction from user fees from which only the users benefit. It usually takes the form of a toll, from the fee charged for vehicles entering a core area of downtown London to the fee charged for use of, say, New York City’s Holland Tunnel.

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The Outdoor Forum

(The following stories come to us courtesy of our friends at Outdoors Magazine

Father and Son Each get One

The first pic was 12 point 162 3/8 green; the other my son shot on Sunday 6 point 210 Lbs in Washington VT.

SFC Michael S. Gilman
Marketing & Advertising, R&R Command, GMA
789 Vermont National Guard Road
Colchester, VT. 05446-3099

Ernie’s Buck

Illinois bow kill, 11/01/06

Ernie Parker
Norwich, Vermont


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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Why Some Doctors Don't Like Catamount
WCAX-TV, Montpelier, November 14, 2007

St. Albans Primary Care is affiliated with several practices across the state totaling about 45 doctors. All may stop taking patients covered by Catamount Health. 130 other health care providers have already said they won't accept Catamount. But it's a small fraction of the more than 5,000 medical practices expected to accept Catamount. "We want to take care of everybody," says Dr. Toby Sadkin. "The question-- is it affordable for us to do it?"

Sadkin says Catamount could potentially close numerous primary care practices because they're already struggling due to a high number of Medicare and Medicaid patients. Those insurance programs reimburse at or below cost. Adding Catamount patients-- they say-- would continue to lower their profit.

Squeals Of Pain From Predictable Places
Caledonia Record Editorial, November 16th, 2007

Act 82, the school finance reform bill, passed the last Vermont Legislature and avoided a veto by Gov. Jim Douglas because of a last minute compromise initiated by Sen. Vincent Illuzzi, R-Essex-Orleans. The compromise was this: a school district whose budget increase exceeds the inflation rate plus one percent must pass two votes. The first vote will be to ratify the basic budget that stays within those limits. The second vote will be to adopt or deny the amount of the increase that exceeds those limits.

Now, we are hearing squeals of pain from some very predictable places. The educators union, VT-NEA, is pulling out all stops to repeal this compromise. The Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA) recently passed a resolution demanding the repeal of Act 82. And, locally, the North Country Union School Board publicly and scathingly denounced the two-vote budget law.

Serious Problem; Unserious Explanation
From, November 15, 2007

Vermont's hospitals are short-staffed on physicians.  So much so that the Bennington hospital briefly considered suspending obstetric service on weekends.  You either had to do some serious long term planing or make sure you could get to, say, Albany in time.

SPECIAL REPORT: Power Struggle, Part 3
From WCAX-TV, Vernon, VT, November 15, 2007

Yankee provides 1/3 of the state's power -- so what would happen if it shuts down? For answers we turned to Sue Tierney, a Boston based energy analyst. "Vermont's going to keep it's lights on," explained Tierney. "Vermont is interconnected to an electrical system to the rest of New England so in a very real sense Vermont will be able to get power from the rest of the region," said Tierney with Analysis Group.

While power is available, Tierney says it would cost much more than what Vermont pays now. The current Yankee contract is 4 cents a kilowatt hour. Tierney says no matter where Vermont turns in state or out of state... to natural gas, coal, wind, nuclear, or hydro -- each source is now around 8 cents a kilowatt hour. Experts say Solar energy is even higher. And by 2012 when Yankee's license expires -- all the prices are expected to rise.

Chittenden County Cries Out For Senate Re-districting
Caledonian Record Editorial, November 13, 2007

Back when Vermont's Legislature was reapportioned by demand of the one-man-one-vote Supreme Court mandate, at least one gross inequity emerged. Chittenden County surfaced from the scramble with six Senate seats. The fact that that county got six seats is not the inequity. The agreement was reached that each senator should represent 20,000 voters, and Chittenden County probably has that population. The fact that all six senators are elected at large is the inequity.

Related: Multimember Districts - The Supreme Court has made clear its preference for single-member legislative districts by discouraging the use of multimember districts in court-drawn plans absent extraordinary circumstances. Congress has prohibited multimember districts for the purposes of redistricting seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Table 8 summarizes multimember district cases.

Vermont's Best-Kept Secret
From, November 17, 2007

Yo-Yo Ma could not teach music to a high school classroom in Vermont. Michael Jordan could not teach phys ed.  A Nobel laureate in science could not teach high school science.  Not that these things are likely to happen, but people with valuable knowledge and lifetime experience do sometimes decide that they'd like to teach.  And Vermont is rated low for its alternative licensure opportunities.

Last year, Education Week's "Quality Counts" State Report Card for Vermont said that our state lost points for teacher quality for "its lack of alternative-route programs for teachers."  Well, actually we had, and still have, an alternative licensure program.  It's called the "Peer Review" program.  But it's such a well-kept secret that Education Week couldn't find it.  Our colleges certainly don't want people to know about it.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

General: Basra Violence Down 90 Percent
Associated Press, November 16, 2007

Attacks against British and Iraqi forces have plunged by 90 percent in southern Iraq since London withdrew its troops from the main city of Basra, the commander of British forces there said. The presence of British forces in downtown Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, was the single largest instigator of violence, Maj. Gen. Graham Binns told reporters Thursday on a visit to Baghdad's Green Zone.

How They Did It
Executing the winning strategy in Iraq.
By Kimberly Kagan, The Weekly Standard, November 19, 2007

The surge of operations that American and Iraqi forces began on June 15 has dramatically improved security in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. U.S. commanders and soldiers have reversed the negative trends of 2006, some of which date back to 2005. The total number of enemy attacks has fallen for four consecutive months, and has now reached levels last seen before the February 2006 Samarra mosque bombing. IED explosions have plummeted to late 2004 levels. Iraqi civilian casualties, which peaked at 3,000 in the month of December 2006, are now below 1,000 for the second straight month. The number of coalition soldiers killed in action has fallen for five straight months and is now at the lowest level since February 2004. These trends persisted through Ramadan, when violence had typically spiked. "I believe we have achieved some momentum," General Raymond T. Odierno, commander of coalition combat forces in Iraq, said modestly in his November 1 press briefing. Since security was deteriorating dramatically in Iraq a year ago, how U.S. commanders and soldiers and their Iraqi partners achieved this positive momentum deserves explanation, even though hard fighting continues and the war is not yet won.

Panel Says Chinese Spies Top Tech Threat
Associated Press, November 16, 2007

A congressional advisory panel said Thursday that Chinese spying represents the greatest threat to U.S. technology and recommended counterintelligence efforts to stop China from stealing the nation's manufacturing expertise.

America Is Sleeping
A radical reversal in Iraq?
By Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, November 15, 2007

There’s an old expression about war: "Victory has many fathers, while defeat is an orphan." But in the case of Iraq, it seems the other way around. We’ve blamed many for the ordeal of the last four years, but it is the American victory in Anbar province that now seems without parents.

Over the last few months, the U.S. military forced Sunni insurgents in Anbar to quit fighting. This enemy, in the heart of the so-called Sunni Triangle, had been responsible for most American casualties in the war and was the main cause of unrest in Iraq. Even more unexpectedly, some of the defeated tribes then joined in an alliance of convenience with their American victors to chase al-Qaeda from Iraq’s major cities.

CIA Agent with Family Ties to Hezb'allah Posted to Iraq (updated)
By Rick Moran, The American Thinker, November 15, 2007

NBC has learned that Nada Prouty, the woman who has pled guilty to conspracy and unauthorized access to a classified computer played a larger role in American national security than either the FBI or CIA have let on...

The Islamic Republic’s War with the Dead
By Amil Imani, Freedom of IraN, November 13, 2007

"The hatred of the extremist mullahs for the Baha'is is such that they, like the Taliban of Afghanistan who destroyed the towering Buddhist sculptures at Bamiyan, intend not only to eradicate the religion, but even to erase all traces of its existence in the country of its birth," says the statement, which took the form of a paid advertisement in the New York Times. Such has been the plight of one of the greatest segments of the Iranian population.

In 1993, in Tehran alone, under the orders of the Islamic authorities, more than 1500 graves were bulldozed on the pretext of constructing a municipal center. In a similar fashion, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which holds in great contempt any non-Islamic belief or heritage, has embarked on destroying the archeological sites of Pasargad, Persepolis and the tomb of Cyrus the Great as well, also on another pretext of building a dam.

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From Elsewhere

Freedom As Dependency: The Aim of the Welfare State?
Part 13 of 'The Crisis of the Republic'
By Alan Keyes, 2007 Renew America

The welfare state represents a response to human neediness that weakens individual freedom and responsibility. As we have discussed it, the natural family also represents a response to human neediness — but it involves a concept of the individual that assumes responsibility, even as it affirms the distinctively human capacity for freedom. The welfare state's destructive impact on the natural family is therefore not accidental. It reflects an essential contradiction between the two different conceptions of humanity.

The U.S. Economic Map Vs. The World
From Nicholas Vardy’s The Global Guru

In the midst of a housing collapse and credit crunch, the impending doom of the U.S. economy is taken as gospel. But look behind the headlines, and the numbers tell a different story. The U.S. economy grew by 3.9% in the credit turmoil-ridden third quarter -- following a 3.1% jump in the second quarter. That means that the United States added the equivalent of a new Saudi Arabia to its economy just since the beginning of April. And the fact that the World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. economy the most competitive economy in the world last week got little press. And even when it did, the #1 ranking of the United States was explained away as a statistical mirage.

This is not to say that the U.S. economy is in ship shape. But with all of the talk about China and India dominating our economic futures, it's worth reminding ourselves where these new economic challengers stand in comparison to the United States today. Despite the high economic growth rates of developing nations, the United States is by far the world's wealthiest nation as measured by GDP -- the broadest measure of economic wealth. And the rest of the world isn't even close. This year, U.S. GDP is projected to be $13.22 trillion. That means that the U.S. economy is as large as the next four-largest economies in the world -- Japan, Germany, China, and the United Kingdom -- combined.

American Decadence—Part 2 of 4
The Characteristics of Civilized People
By Reginald Firehammer, The Automist

There was no government supplied "sex education" in the fifties. It was considered a parent's job, and they did that job pretty well. No one died from VD. Today the government has taken over the parents job. The purpose of government supplied sex education was to prevent the spread of STD's and limit teenage pregnancies. So far, on the STD front, STDs are killing women at the rate of 5000 a year, and AIDS, which was not even heard of in the 50s, had already killed over 520 thousand by 2003, "including 18,017 in 2003," which is just about the yearly rate now.

Oh, yes, and how has sex education done on the pregnancy front? "In the 1950's, less than a third [far less, actually] of first births to teen mothers were conceived out of wedlock. By the 1980's, close to two-thirds of all Caucasian teen mothers were unmarried when they became pregnant. And almost all (97%) of African American teen mothers were single at the time of conception in the 1980's. (What have we done to our sweet black girls?) "Four percent of births in 1950 were to out-of-wedlock mothers." "In 2004, about 36 percent of births were out of wedlock."

"Sex Ed," is just one of the failures of government supplied "education," and there are worse things happening in the schools, which I'll address. But this began with the sexualization of little girls, and there is much more to say about that.

Nearly all House GOPers back Pence’s Discharge Petition on Fairness Doctrine
By Jackie Kucinich, The Hill, November 14, 2007

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) has persuaded nearly every House Republican to sign a discharge petition that would force a floor vote on legislation banning the so-called Fairness Doctrine.

One hundred ninety-four out of 200 House Republicans are backing the effort to block the anticipated revival of the Fairness Doctrine, which they believe is a tool Democrats will use to cut down on the number of conservative radio talk shows. The Fairness Doctrine was discarded by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during the Reagan administration in 1985. Not one Democrat has signed the petition, which requires 218 signatures to trigger a vote.

The Death Of The Dollar
From Nicholas Vardy’s The Global Guru

But like the presidential candidacy of my Harvard classmate Barack Obama, the talk about the demise of the United States is more about wishful thinking than what is really there. Yes, the dollar has declined. But it's hardly fallen off a cliff. It may have hit record lows against the euro, but the euro is a young currency. It's only if you look at the short term, say, since January 2002, that the dollar's fall against the euro seems out of whack. Turns out, the value of the dollar in euro, (assuming the German mark transformed into the euro on January 1, 1999), is about the same as it was in the mid-1990s. According to research by Brown Brothers Harriman, the now-defunct German mark hit a record high in 1995 that would be the equivalent of a euro level of $1.4575. Yesterday, it closed at $1.4576.

Nor is a weak dollar all bad news. A weaker currency provides a boost to the U.S. economy, making U.S. exports more attractive at a time when consumer spending is slowing down and the housing market is a drag on growth. Thanks to a weaker dollar, growth in U.S. exports is already shrinking America's external deficit. During the past three quarters the deficit has been cut by $119 billion, falling from about 6% of gross domestic product to 5%. The adjustment appears to be continuing as the U.S. trade deficit narrowed by a stronger-than-expected $56.4 billion in September. The federal budget deficit has also come down sharply to 1.2% of GDP, well below its historical average.

Meanwhile, U.S. economic growth numbers were revised upward from 3.1% to 3.9% in the third quarter of 2007. U.S. worker productivity in the third quarter rose to 4.9%, the strongest pace in four years. The United States also was rated the #1 most competitive economy in the world by the World Economic Forum. None of that sounds like "the next Argentina" to me.

Gallup Poll Shows Americans "Angry and Frustrated" with Dems in Congress
By Rick Moran, The American Thinker, November 15, 2007

Just 8% of the public is "Pleased" with the job the Democratic Congress is doing on immigration while 65% are either "Angry" or "Disappointed." The numbers on Iraq are just as bad with 11% Pleased and 68% Angry or Disappointed.

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