Gov. Pat McCrory says the Republican-driven bill to repeal the Common Core education standards “is not a smart move,” using his strongest language yet to warn against an effort pushed by conservatives in his own party, the Raleigh News & Observer reported Friday.
“These are things we need to correct and recognize,” he said, citing concerns with implementation and testing in remarks at a Raleigh meeting of the N.C. Business Committee for Education, a group that supports the standards. “But again, you don’t just throw out the whole thing if you have some minor issues you need to fix. We are trying to get some of the language out of the current bills in which we toss the whole thing out with no replacement.”
McCrory’s remarks came at the same time the Senate pushed ahead with its legislation, voting 33-15 to approve the measure, which replaces the math and language arts goals in North Carolina schools. The House approved a different version Wednesday. The two will eventually need to reconcile the differences before the bill gets to McCrory.
6/7/2014 Family puts gender identity in public eye
Whittingtons’ viral video garners praise and criticism
Screen grab of Ryland Whittington from his family’s YouTube video “The Whittington Family: Ryland’s Story.”
It is short, sweet and very personal. But in their seven-minute YouTube video about the joys and challenges of raising a transgender child, the Whittington family of San Diego struck a resounding chord in the transgender community and beyond.
Jeff and Hillary Whittington posted the video on May 27, just five days after 6-year-old Ryland — who was born a girl but identified early on as a boy — spoke at the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. It has since received nearly 6 million views and has been covered by news outlets nationwide.
The Whittingtons’ support of the child they call “our amazing son” has also turned the video into a hot-button talking point, with some people praising the family’s unconditional love and acceptance and others criticizing the parents for taking what they perceive as a childhood phase way too far.
For parents of transgender children, however, one family’s story contains a multitude of universal truths.
“I think parents inside and outside the (transgender) community are responding with admiration and a real sense of the Whittingtons’ courage in terms of putting themselves out there and talking about this,” said Delores Jacobs, CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center. “And I think parents are really appreciative, because it takes a lot of courage to step out and say, ‘Yeah, here is our family’s story.’ ”
Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. And the story of Ryland — who, in the words of the family’s video, “was born with female anatomy, (but) her brain identifies with that of a boy” — is hitting the national consciousness at a time when gender identity is very much in the public eye.
A California law went into effect this year ensuring that transgender students in the public education system have access to facilities and activities that align with their gender identity.
And just last month, transgender actress Laverne Cox of “Orange is the New Black” was featured on the cover of Time magazine for its story on “America’s Transgender Tipping Point.”
Public opinion is not nearly the minefield it used to be, but helping a transgender child navigate the world is a process that is both delicate and daunting.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are typically able to identify themselves as either a boy or a girl before their third birthday. But gender identity isn’t always an either/or proposition. Given the permutations — from pangender to agender — how does a child, particularly a young one, know that their brain doesn’t match their body? And how does a parent know if they’re right?
“A lot of times, we don’t know yet, and that can be very hard for parents,” said Diane Ehrensaft, author of “Gender Born, Gender Made” and the mental health director for UC San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Center Clinic. “There are many parents I work with where I will say, ‘I can’t tell where this is going. We can only work with the cross-section of the child’s life that we have now. The most important goal is that your child have an authentic gender that feels right to them.’ This is a real challenge for parents.”
By the time Ellen James’ princess-worshipping, dress-loving son turned 4, he was talking about having a “girl brain” and a “girl soul.” As a parent, James (a pseudonym) knew a phase when she saw one, and this wasn’t it.
“When you say something is a phase, it is typically something that spans a couple of weeks or a couple of months. This was every minute of every day,” said James, a Midwestern mother of three and a board member with PFLAG National. “Somebody interviewed her once for a school project, and they asked her, ‘How often do you think about being a girl?’ She said, ‘Every minute. I’m thinking about it right now.’ She was 4 years old.”
For young transgender children, the next step is transitioning from their birth sex to the gender they identify with. In older people, the transition process can involve hormones and sometimes surgery. For young children, it is a matter of changing clothes, hair, pronouns and sometimes names.
When James’ child turned 8, the boy clothes got tossed during winter break and the boy returned to school as a girl. The response of her fellow second-graders was “amazing,” James said. Her daughter’s parochial school was less so. Over the summer, the family moved, switched school districts and changed religious denominations.
“She is thriving,” James said of her daughter, who just finished seventh grade. “She is a straight-A student. She loves theater and drama. Once she transitioned and we saw her come alive, we have just been more and more sure that she is who she is.”
For the parents of transgender children, there are always more hurdles ahead. Will they be safe? (According to a survey, nearly 80 percent of young transgender students report having been harassed at school.) What happens as they grow up? Do you let them take puberty-blocking drugs? What about surgery?
Then there is the question that every parent of every child asks themselves every day. Will they be happy? At the end of the video, we see Ryland telling the Harvey Milk Breakfast audience, “I’m the happiest I have ever been in my whole life.” After watching it, James heard a message that any parent could take to heart at any time.
“The fact is, it’s a journey,” James said. “And the important part is listening.”
Roswell residents are on edge after a 15-year-old girl was abducted from a park Wednesday night and raped.
Police say the 15-year-old was walking in the area of Southeast Main Street and Buena Vista when she was abducted by a man in a gray van.
Once in the van, police say she was raped.
She later managed to escape and call police.
News of the crime really hit home to teenagers living in the area.
"In a way it's emotional because just like close to my neighborhood, like by my house where my nephew is playing around and where I'm around just walking sometimes," Abigail Ramos said.
Ramos is 17.
"It's scary to know that something could just happen right away like that," she said.
"You just want to wait here and wait for the person that did it," Amy Garcia said.
Parents are on edge too.
"You could bring your kids here and it's a park where everybody comes and now you're not even safe at a park," Lisa Alonzo said.
They plan to be that much more vigilant.
"You just have to watch your kids, be with them no matter what you know sometimes they get mad but you just got to understand and go with them," Alonzo said. "Just watch them, keep a close eye on them that's the main thing, you know don't let them out of your sight."
MEXICO CITY — Mexico's Attorney General's Office on Friday defended its decision to prosecute a U.S. Marine veteran who was jailed after he drove into Mexico in April with three guns in his truck.
The office said in a statement that Andrew Tahmooressi was arrested on weapon charges because he was carrying a pistol, shotgun and rifle and ammunition when he crossed into Tijuana.
"In Mexico, like in the United States, ignorance of the law, error, misperceptions or misunderstandings about the consequences of violating a law, is not an exemption from responsibility," prosecutors said. The possession of any weapon restricted for the use of the Army is a federal crime in Mexico regardless of whether visitors declare it or not upon entering the country.
Tahmooressi's mother, Jill Tahmooressi, said her son was headed to dinner in San Ysidro, California, on March 31 when he mistakenly wound up at a border-crossing point in Tijuana. He has said he never intended to leave the United States but missed an exit.
Prosecutors said the 25-year-old Afghanistan war veteran was placed in the clinic of a Tijuana prison after he acted aggressively, tried to escape twice and hurt himself physically. He's now being held at a prison in the border city of Tecate.
The office said Tahmooressi's rights have been respected and he has been visited more than 50 times by his lawyers, relatives, pastor and U.S. Congressman Matt Salmon.
"It is important to highlight that along the border crossing where Tahmooressi was detained there are several, clearly visible signs about the proximity of Mexico and warnings that it is prohibited to bring weapons into our country," the Attorney General's Office said.
The office said Tahmooressi decided to hire a new defense lawyer and that's why the hearings in his case have been postponed. New dates haven't been set.
There have been similar cases in the past. In 2008, an active-duty Army soldier was jailed in Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, for driving into Mexico with guns, knives and ammunition. Former Army Spc. Richard R. Medina Torres also said he was lost and missed the last U.S. exit. He spent a little over a month in jail before being released.
McALLEN (AP) — A third campaign worker in Hidalgo County has pleaded guilty to paying voters to ensure they cast ballots in favor of school board candidates.
Guadalupe Escamilla of Weslaco admitted her guilt Friday in federal court in McAllen to one count of vote-buying. Prosecutors say the 72-year-old Escamilla paid for votes in the November 2012 school board election in Donna.
Prosecutors say she indicated that at least two board candidates gave her money to buy votes.
Escamilla is scheduled to be sentenced in August and faces up to 5 years in prison.
Two other campaign workers — 44-year-old Rebecca Gonzalez and 48-year-old Diana Balderas Castaneda, both of Donna — previously pleaded guilty to the same charge. They are awaiting sentencing.
A nine-year-old boy crashes into a parked car with his family inside.
Police told Action 4 News there were two adults in the car, but because they were under the influence, they had the child drive them home.
Both were charged with child endangerment Friday.
"PR bond?,” defendant Preston Reyna asked Judge Celia Garcia.
“No, cash surety sir”, replied Judge Garcia.
“But I wasn’t driving,” said Reyna.
Judge Garcia explained that it didn’t matter because the charges Reyna faces are very serious.
Around 2 a.m.. Friday morning, Edinburg police attempted to pull over a black Camry on the 300 block of Veterans Boulevard.
It was weaving from lane to lane, which lead the officer to believe the driver might be drunk.
“As soon as the officer activated his red and blue emergency lights, the vehicle lost control and swerved to the right and struck a parked vehicle," said Edinburg police spokesperson, Lt. Oscar Trevino.
To the officer’s surprise, the driver's seat was empty.
“He did notice that the driver seat was in a position where it was as far forward as possible, which did immediately give him the indication that it was an extremely short person that was driving," explained Lt. Trevino.
The officer on the scene noticed 19-year-old Jessica Garza in the front passenger seat, and two children, ages 9 and 12, in the backseat with her 19-year-old boyfriend Preston Reyna.
Shortly after, the officer learned it was the 9-year-old boy who was behind the wheel.
"We learned that the two adults were highly intoxicated, so instead of them driving they had the nine-year-old drive for them," said Lt. Trevino.
Detectives believe Garza was giving the boy directions to their home, but when he saw police, he got scared and jumped in the back seat while the car was still in motion.
The Camry crashed into a red pickup truck on the 600 block of Veterans Boulevard.
"Not only did they place their lives and these children's lives in danger, but they are also endangering that of the motoring public, other cyclists, other pedestrians that may have been in the area," said Lt. Trevino.
Police told us the nine-year-old driver is Reyna's nephew and the 12-year-old boy is Garza's little brother.
Both are being held on a $60,000 bond for two counts of child endangerment.
PORT-OF-SPAIN – One of the Caribbean’s leading health officials has cautioned tourism stakeholders in the region not to turn a blind eye to the spread of the Chikungunya virus.
Though not usually lethal, the disease has become a major source of concern, said Dr. James Hospedales, executive director of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency.
“The players in the tourism industry need to be concerned and we have been working with CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organization) on some of the communications messages, because you have to be truthful and honest in informing the population, but on the other hand you can’t cause alarm and panic,” he said.
“One of the things is that it’s not only the population that might fall ill, but actually your workers in the workforce, and that’s what’s happening now,” Hospedales said.
“For instance, we’ve been getting reports in some countries. You’re on a day-by-day basis (asking) who is sick today? So how can you work? That includes your nurses, doctors, tourism workers, everyone,” he added.
Carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the Chikungunya virus has been spreading rapidly in the Caribbean since late last year. Dozens of cases have been reported across the region and health officials are predicting accelerated transmission as hurricane season begins.
Hospedales said no part of the region has been spared.
“Chikungunya is a new virus to the region. It came in December last year and as of last week, we have reports from 18 jurisdictions including all the language areas – English-speaking, French, Dutch and Spanish islands,” he said.
“The fact that this is coming and is spreading is an indication that our vector control, our mosquito control, is not what it needs to be and that’s not only the responsibility of government and spraying, but it’s the responsibility of individual householders,” Hospedales said.
Chikungunya is not usually deadly, but causes severe headaches and joint pain, rash and fever. The Aedes aegypti mosquito also transmits dengue fever, which can be lethal.
Welcome to Fort Wayne. I hope you have a lot of fun, spend a lot of money and thoroughly debunk real estate company Movoto's new poll listing my hometown among the five most boring cities in the United States. How could the prospect of listening to 2,000 people discuss everything from bureaucratic minutia to gay marriage for two days be anything but scintillating?
But before you do anything you or the rest of us may regret, please spend some time thinking about President Obama's decision to exchange five high-ranking Taliban prisoners for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl – and what it suggests about the condition of the nation's governance, culture and (this is where you come in) politics.
The problem is not so much what Obama did – Israel once traded 1,027 prisoners for a single captured soldier – but the brazen, inept and constantly evolving manner in which the rescue of an apparent deserter and alleged collaborator has been justified, sometimes with much the same language the president used to honor the heroes who stormed the Normandy beaches 70 years ago.
You don't have to believe reports that Sgt. Bergdahl converted to Islam during his five-year captivity, declared himself a warrior for Islam or actively assisted his captors. Even his stated objections to U.S. policy in Afghanistan or admission that he was “ashamed to be an American” could perhaps be attributed to the stress of combat and captivity. Sometimes you simply make the best deal you can, and live with it.
But announcing the trade in a Rose Garden ceremony indicates the president expected the deal to be politically popular, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice insisted that Bergdahl had served “with honor and distinction” even though it had been widely reported that Bergdahl had been captured after walking off his base. Only later did NBC News suggest that Obama, who has vowed to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had planned to release the five terrorists anyway – and wanted to get something in return.
What do head-spinning decisions and statements coming out of Washington, D.C, have to do with a state party convention in Indiana? Just this: The Obama administration's attempt to make a returning hero out of a soldier of dubious service indicates one of three things, none of them reassuring:
The White House, despite its vast intelligence resources, was unaware of Bergdahl's alleged desertion and questionable loyalties;
Officials knew about those facts but wanted to avoid them;
They didn't care about those facts -- and didn't think Americans would, either.
The extent to which the president's usual allies in Congress and the media have questioned the swap, when added to the groundswell of anger in the general public, indicate that Americans can still be shocked and outraged by the questionable, self-serving actions of their leaders – if given the information and opportunity.
The president cannot seek a third term in 2016, but even before that there will be congressional elections in which some candidates will share his vision of a transformed America: more regulation, government spending and dependency, less personal responsibility and prosperity. More division, less unity. An emasculated military.
Republicans have proven too many times they are far from perfect, and the social issues that often dominate GOP politics are not illegitimate – the right to life is fundamental and I share a commitment to traditional marriage and religious freedom (everyone should be outraged that a judge has ordered employees of a Colorado bakery that refuses to make cakes for same-sex weddings to re-education camp).
But the most crucial issue right now is to win elections with candidates of honor, maturity and competence capable of limiting spending, building the economy, fighting oppressive regulations, supporting our friends and challenging our adversaries and, yes, restoring the public's confidence in its government.
But that government is not a church, and if purity on social issues costs the GOP elections – people actually told me they could not vote for Mitt Romney in 2012 because he is a Mormon – the party's national influence will continue to ebb at the very moment the country most needs an alternative to politicians who believe they can say anything, and that the public will believe anything.
The Bergdahl case illustrates that larger danger, but also represents a large opportunity for a party willing to fight, with ferocity, compassion, self-sacrifice, humility and integrity, for all that was, and is, good about America.
If you're that party, you have work to do when you get home.
Progressive hero Noam Chomsky is terrified of the surveillance state that has developed during the tenure of President Barack Obama, calling it a grave threat to our fundamental civil liberties.
In a column published Monday, Chomsky writes that the documents revealed to the public by Edward Snowden show a system that is flagrantly violating the principles of the Constitution.
“It is of no slight import that the project is being executed in one of the freest countries in the world, and in radical violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which protects citizens from ‘unreasonable searches and seizures,’ and guarantees the privacy of their persons, houses, papers and effects,” Chomsky said.
“Much as government lawyers may try, there is no way to reconcile these principles with the assault on the population revealed in the Snowden documents.”
The scope and depth of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program is what particularly troubles the retired MIT professor and leads him to conclude that our current president is set on undermining the foundations of our society.
“The documents unveil a remarkable project to expose to state scrutiny vital information about every person who falls within the grasp of the colossus — in principle, every person linked to the modern electronic society,” Chomsky wrote. “As the colossus fulfills its visions, in principle every keystroke might be sent to President Obama’s huge and expanding databases in Utah.”
“In other ways too, the constitutional lawyer in the White House seems determined to demolish the foundations of our civil liberties. The principle of the presumption of innocence, which dates back to Magna Carta 800 years ago, has long been dismissed to oblivion.”
All this adds up to a system that George Orwell would’ve been incapable of envisioning as “Nothing so ambitious was imagined by the dystopian prophets of grim totalitarian worlds ahead.”
And like the totalitarian government in “1984,” this apparatus is designed — in Chomsky’s opinion — to defend state power from the threat of an unruly domestic population and make transparency a one-way street between the government and its private citizens.
“Throughout, the basic principle remains: Power must not be exposed to the sunlight. Edward Snowden has become the most wanted criminal in the world for failing to comprehend this essential maxim,” the professor concludes. “In brief, there must be complete transparency for the population, but none for the powers that must defend themselves from this fearsome internal enemy.”