Friday, December 03, 2021

Michigan school gunman Ethan Crumbley, 15, 'wanted to murder as many as he could

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Michigan gunman Ethan Crumbley went to school with the intention of murdering 'as many students as he could' on Tuesday and had planned the attack in a cell phone video on his phone and in a journal that cops found in his backpack.

Crumbley, 15, killed four students at Oxford High School on Tuesday in a shooting described as 'absolutely cold-hearted' and 'premeditated' by law enforcement.

Police said that on the eve of the killings, the teen recorded a video saying he was planning to launch an attack at the school the next day. Crumbley is said to have echoed similar sentiments in a journal found in his backpack.

The video was not posted online and there was no advance warning, according to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. It was discovered after the shooting.

His motive remains unclear. Initially, other students at the school said he was being bullied but the police, his older brother and prosecutors say there is no evidence of that.

Crumbley, according to prosecutor Karen McDonald, wanted to murder 'as many students as he could'.

He shot his victims at close range, wounding them in the cheeks, jaws, shoulders and necks, after opening fire in the hallways of the school.

Keast said the video of the attack showed Crumbley enter a bathroom at the school with a backpack before he emerged with a gun.

'At that point, he deliberately aimed the gun at students and began firing at students. After students started running he continued down the hallway pointing the gun and firing (at them) and firing in classrooms and at students who were unable to escape.

'He methodically and deliberately walked down a hallway, aiming the firearm at students and firing. After children started running away from the defendant, he continued down the hallway again at a deliberate and methodical pace, pointing and aiming inside classrooms and at students who hadn't had the opportunity to escape,' Crumbley has been charged with four counts of murder and one count of terrorism. He is being held as an adult.

Crumbley was summoned to a meeting with school teachers and his parents over his 'behavior' on Tuesday morning before returning to class.

Three hours later, he went into a bathroom and exited with a 9mm Sig Sauer pistol, opening fire in the hallways and shooting off at least 30 rounds, reloading with a fresh magazine as students fled.

Four teens were killed, including Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin. Justin Shilling, 17, died in the hospital on Wednesday morning.

At an arraignment in Pontiac, Michigan, on Wednesday Crumbley sat mute, masked and suited in a heavy suicide-prevention vest, while attorneys and his parents joined in by video conference.

The teen was charged as an adult because the crimes are 'serious' and the attack was premeditated.

The shooting spree was the deadliest on U.S. school property this year, according to Education Week. It was the latest in a decades-long string of deadly American school shootings.


Teacher arrested for notes pasted over school pretending to be bullied child plotting massacre

The day after a student killed four classmates in Oxford, Michigan, a teacher in Iowa was arrested for allegedly pretending to be a troubled student who planned to shoot up the high school where she worked.

Katrina Phelan, 37, was arrested on Wednesday and has been charged with three counts of making "threats of terrorism," according to the Council Bluffs Police Department.

Ms Phelan taught at Abraham Lincoln High School and allegedly tried to start rumours at the school that a violent student was planning an attack.

“[D]etectives conducted an investigation into a series of anonymous handwritten notes found inside the school, all making reference to committing gun violence upon school property,” police said in a press statement. “Each of the notes were reportedly either found in Phelan’s classroom or found by Phelan herself, in various locations within the school.”

Once police became aware of what was happening, an arrest warrant was issued, which prompted Ms Phelan to turn herself in to the authorities.

After she was interrogated police determined that the threats were empty, and that there was no evidence the teacher had the means or will to carry out a mass violent act.

“When interviewed, Phelan admitted to writing the notes,” police wrote in the press statement. “It was determined that she had no intentions or means of carrying out these threats. In at least one of the notes, Phelan, posing as an unnamed student, wrote that she was tired of being made fun of.”

Ms Phelan's motivations remain murky despite her arrest. KETV, a broadcaster in Omaha, Nebraska, reviewed a probable cause affidavit and found that the teacher claimed she had no memory of writing any of the notes.

When pressed why she might have written the notes, she allegedly said it was rooted in "concern, worry and frustration over the lack of control of her classroom."

Ms Phelan allegedly said she wanted to show parents that the high school where she worked was "not a safe place."

The incident prompted the school's principal to send a letter to parents.

"The Council Bluffs Police Department has concluded its investigation into the threatening notes found at school a few weeks ago. They have determined the source of the notes to be a school employee," Principal Bridgette Bellows wrote.

"Investigators concluded there was no intent or means to carry out the threats. However, the employee has been charged with a crime, has voluntarily surrendered to the police, and will no longer be employed by the Council Bluffs Schools. We appreciate the detectives and their diligence in solving this crime."

Ms Bellows suggested that students from the school assisted the investigation. "During that investigation, students provided us with information that was helpful. This is what we expect from students at ALHS," she said. It was not clear exactly how the students assisted.

Ms Phelan was detained at the Pottawatamie County Jail. Each of her charges carry a potential five-year prison sentence.


Huge changes to school start and finish times could come to Australia

Radical changes could be made to the average school day in New South Wales as part of an effort from the state government to support working parents and reduce traffic congestion.

The overhaul would mean principals can offer options to parents other than the standard 9am-3pm school day.

During a speech at the annual Bradfield Oration, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet suggested school times should be changed to better suit the lives of working families.

'Despite the progress we have made, so many public services are still designed around government, not around the people we are here to serve,' he said on Thursday.

'Education should be designed around our children, not simply around the schools themselves.'

He used the speech to declare his plans to bring NSW into the '21st Century' by leading a modern government that 'doesn't accept the status quo'.

At one point the Premier directly challenged Education Minister Sarah Mitchell, asking if the existing school day was fit for working parents. 'Why does the school day run from 9am to 3pm — and does it still suit the lives of busy working families?' asked Mr Perrottet.

His speech has reignited debate over whether the traditional 9am-3pm school day should be overhauled to provide flexibility for families.

In June, the government staggered the start and finish times of public schools as part of a push to modernise the traditional school day and reduce traffic congestion.

The bold plan allowed schools to participate in trials where principals could offer parents options that differed from the standard 9am to 3pm school day.

Alternatives include a 7am to 1pm day, or extended after-school care.

NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos previously claimed most schools across the state already offered varied school hours.

'The majority of schools do not operate between nine and three [o'clock], there's all sorts of variations,' he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'There are schools with nine-day fortnights, or four-day weeks. But these matters are not straightforward and require significant consultation to achieve a consensus across a broad parent body and staff body, all of whom are impacted.'

Merrylands East Public in the city's west already operates an 8am to 1.15pm school day.

The scheme could also see an ease of pressure on Sydney's heavily-congested roads by staggering when students are picked up and dropped off from school.

The cost of Sydney's traffic congestion to the state economy is estimated to reach $13.1billion by 2031, according to the NSW Productivity Commission.




Thursday, December 02, 2021

Loudoun County Moms Set Out to Protect Their Children, Now They’re Trying to Save America

In December 2020, Shawntel Cooper, a mother of two in northern Virginia, noticed something new in her fourth-grade daughter’s morning class routine. Cooper had just switched roles in her company and was able to work from home, and her daughter, like most of America’s schoolchildren, was remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That morning, Cooper saw that the teacher had introduced a new learning segment: playing clips of topical news items of the day. What was shown was a mainstream media news broadcast covering riots connected with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Why are they showing that?” Cooper recalled thinking. “They were going against the way that I want my child to be. She was brought up without thinking, ‘I’m white and I’m black.’”

Cooper is African American, while her husband is white.

“She hasn’t been raised based on colors. She has been raised based on loving human beings just for being human beings, of their characters, not putting them in categories on color, or what color their parents are,” Cooper added. So she asked the teacher to exclude her daughter from the morning news segment, a request that was granted.

A few months later, her daughter, while working on a school project for Black History Month, asked Cooper why people would say that there would be “no justice, no peace” until every white person was slaughtered. The girl recalled the news clips she had watched and was confused, especially because her father is white. She also started asking questions about whether she should be making friends based on skin color.

This crossed the line for Cooper.

“Our world went upside down when we had to explain to our daughter what was going on,” she told The Epoch Times.

“There’s nothing wrong with seeing through someone else’s lens. But to deceive someone into thinking that you are bad because of the color of your skin; because of your color, we are going to cut you some slack,” she said. “I will not teach my children that.”

“I believe you overcome challenges through your own journey. It’s not because someone felt sorry for me. I had to learn on my own; it was just part of life. It didn’t matter what color I was.”

So the mother started to look into the Black Lives Matter movement and critical race theory (CRT). She was shocked by what she found: that CRT, traditionally something taught in colleges, is an analytical framework underpinned by quasi-Marxist doctrines. It breaks down society into two camps: oppressors and the oppressed. Simply for being born white, one is an oppressor. Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter, a left-wing activist group that promotes racial justice in law enforcement and other domains, was the embodiment of CRT principles being put into practice.

She thought it was “crazy” to “try to bring these [CRT] college courses into our children’s school.” Though, in schools, the theory appears under different banners, in ideas such as “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusivity.”

Fast forward to May, when Cooper had some quiet time while recovering from major surgery. It was then that she decided she needed to do something about what was being taught in her child’s school.

“I see people fighting racism with more racism,” she said. “Critical race theory now is trying to take the children away from the parents to make them social justice warriors. CRT is Marxist ideology. And the last thing I want is my family to be breaking apart.”

She used the time to write a speech protesting CRT at the next school board meeting.

“CRT is racist. It is abusive. It discriminates against one’s color,” she told the Loudoun County School Board on May 11. “Today, we don’t need your agreement. We want action and a backbone for what we asked for today: to ban CRT.

“You cannot tell me what is or is not racist. Look at me. I had to come down here today to tell you to your face that we are coming together. We are strong. This will not be the last greet and meet, respectfully,” Cooper said as she left the podium.

The video of her speech went viral.

Cooper is from Loudoun County, a wealthy area in northern Virginia known for its good schools.

By the time she spoke up, Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) had been on the equity journey for at least two years. In the spring of 2019, the county hired an equity-focused educational consultancy to conduct a “systemic equity assessment” of the school’s policies.

The result was the LCPS comprehensive equity plan, which states, “A diverse, inclusive, equitable, and socially-just teaching and learning community is a priority in LCPS.” Its equity impact statement highlights LCPS’ commitment to “a racially-conscious, identity-affirming, and culturally responsive learning space.”

A primary recommendation in the equity plan was to publish on schools’ web pages a superintendent’s message “defining and condemning White supremacy, hate speech, hate crimes, and other racially motivated acts of violence,” and for this message to be communicated to parents twice a year. This same message was included in the Loudoun County School Board’s equity resolution adopted on Sept. 24, 2019.

Cooper said that the principal and teachers at her daughter’s school were transparent and helpful when she raised her concerns about CRT. However, “no one could promise me that critical race theory would not be taught,” she said. That’s because, Cooper said, CRT isn’t packaged as such when it’s transmitted in school classrooms. Rather, it’s disseminated under different guises that have evolved over time, from “culturally responsive learning” to “equity” to now “social-emotional learning.”

As a result, Cooper pulled her daughter out of school after she finished fourth grade in June, and began homeschooling her in July.


Kids are given no choice but to quarantine and fall behind at school

Parents from Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania are in an uproar because their children are facing mandatory quarantines without virtual learning options. Many parents are weary after nearly two years of COVID-19 precautions in schools.

Brighton Area Schools, a district in suburban Detroit, is requiring students under the age of 12 to quarantine for 14 days if they have been exposed to a COVID-positive student. Jennifer Smith, a mother with three children in the district, said that there are no virtual learning options for children placed in mandatory quarantine.

On Nov. 1, Brighton Area Schools announced that they had waived mandatory quarantines for most middle and high school students, but not for students in grades six and below. The district’s plan on whether to waive quarantines for younger students will be contingent on “the availability of vaccines for the 5-11-year-old population.”

Brighton Area Schools leave it to parents to decide whether their child wears a face mask or not, according to district policy, however, mandatory quarantines for healthy children who have been exposed are still in place.

Smith said that her nine-year-old child began a 28-day “healthy child quarantine” on Oct. 19. She received an email on Nov. 9 from Hornung Elementary School informing parents that all classes would go virtual on Nov. 10 due to “an unexplained rise in COVID-19 cases among students” following Halloween. The decision was based on advice from the Livingston County Health Department.

According to a Livingston County Health Department official, school districts ultimately make their own rules regarding quarantine, testing, and masking policies.

The Michigan mother said that her son was under mandatory quarantine from Oct. 19 to Nov. 10 with no virtual school option, and was only offered virtual classes when the entire elementary school shut down. Smith said that she is “extremely upset” as she had “no choice” but to take off work and “go without pay.”

Parents nationwide are concerned about learning losses, and also about the effects learning loss will have on students of lower socioeconomic status.

Data from 2020 indicates that schools are not driving infections and school closures or learning losses are affecting minority students. A study of 4.4 million students found that test scores of black, Hispanic, and poor children took the biggest hit when students were not in school. A study from Oct. 2020 found that schools are not driving the infection rate.

Other places have also put mandatory quarantines in place for exposed students, according to another mother in the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) in Arizona.

According to CUSD’s COVID policy, student quarantining is “required by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health” when a student comes in “close contact” with a student who is COVID-positive. The district’s website states that quarantined students receive “Google classroom assignments and/or activities,” though Eidson noted that children do not receive any teacher instruction during quarantine.


Students say Canada offers more flexible degrees than U.K., cheaper tuition than Ivy League schools

As a product of Britain's elite private school system, Sophie Boehler was groomed to pursue the prestige of an Oxford or Cambridge education.

When she was unsuccessful at getting in, instead of choosing another U.K. school, the 20-year-old from London looked farther abroad to Montreal's McGill University.

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In hindsight, she said, it was the best place she could have wound up.

"I wanted to use university as a springboard to trying out different things, and that was just something I didn't see as an option in the U.K.," Boehler said, noting it might not have been possible to get the course combinations she was looking for.

"The more I looked at it, the more I wanted an adventure and a completely new system, and Canada seemed so cool."

Boehler is part of a growing trend of U.K. students choosing to study at Canadian universities, driven by lower fees, a variety of courses and degree combinations, and more flexibility. At the same time, admissions to the U.K.'s elite universities have become more competitive as they open their doors to more students from public schools.

The U.K has always been a popular destination for Canadian students, but now, the tide is starting to flow both ways. Figures from both Universities Canada and the Canadian government show that after just creeping upward for a few years, in 2019, the number of new students from the U.K. at Canadian universities rose by nearly 10 per cent, to almost 2,500.

The number may appear modest alongside the tens of thousands of students accepted from India and China, but the rise in enrolment from the U.K. nonetheless represents a breakthrough for the Canadian system.

Just over a decade ago, Canada was barely on the radar for British students contemplating a path to academic success. But those who help facilitate study abroad on both sides of the Atlantic say the interest in Canadian universities of late has been extraordinary.

"There has been serious growth," said Anthony Nemecek, an education advisor based in London who is hired by students and U.K. secondary schools to provide them with information on university opportunities abroad.

He said there's been a significant change in the way British students and teachers think about a foreign degree. The British consider their own schools — which are often ranked among the most prestigious in the world — to be top tier, and the idea of going abroad for an education wasn't seen as especially beneficial. In addition, many U.K. undergraduate programs are three years, compared to four in Canada.

Nemecek said these days, American universities — especially prestigious Ivy League schools — are still the top choice for U.K. students looking to study abroad but that Canadian institutions are now competitive. Students are attracted by lower international schools fees, a broad variety of courses and unique degree combinations, he said




Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Three teens killed by Michigan high school shooter identified

Both the victims and the perp were white

The three teens who were gunned down by a fellow student at their Michigan high school were identified Tuesday night — as authorities revealed the gunman’s father purchased the firearm used in the rampage just four days ago.

Among the victims in the horrific shooting was Tate Myre, a 16-year-old “standout” football player at Oxford High School who died from his wounds on the way to the hospital in the back of a patrol car.

The two other victims were Hana St. Juliana , 14 and Madisyn Baldwin, 17, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

“This kind of thing can happen anywhere and sadly it happened even in a sweet quiet community like Oxford,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael J Bouchard said at a Tuesday night press briefing.

The 15-year-old suspect, Ethan Crumbley, a sophomore at the school, also wounded seven other students, ranging in age from 14 to 17, and a 47-year-old teacher, authorities said.

Three of the injured students, a 15-year-old boy, and two girls, ages 14 and 17, are in critical condition.

The shooter was uninjured and taken into custody in the hallway of the school by deputies who arrived on scene within 2 to 3 minutes of the first 911 call reporting the gunfire.


Minnesota School District Asked Parent Group for $900K to Complete their Records Request

A Minnesota public school district informed a law firm representing an organization of concerned parents that a records request would cost them more than $901,000.

An attorney at Mohrman, Kaardal, & Erickson sent a Government Data Practices Act Request to the interim superintendent at Rochester Public School District in September on behalf of concerned parent group Equality in Education, in which a request was made for the release of information regarding curriculum, conferences or seminars for teachers and students related to "equity and social justice topics often referred to as Critical Race Theory," according to communications obtained by the Daily Caller.

The request asked for records from as far back as Jan. 2020 in elementary, middle, and high school, and included concerns about words like equity, social justice, cultural competency, race, intersectionality and CRT, many of which are concepts linked to the core principles of Critical Race Theory, according to the Mohrman, Kaardal, & Erickson letter.

Equality in Education asked that the school district complete the request by Dec. 15, but the organization’s legal team said it would be willing to extend the deadline if the district kept the group updated.

And on Nov. 12, an attorney representing the district told the law firm that it would cost $901,121.15 for Equality in Education to obtain the desired records and noted that the request would not be completed until payment is received.

"The District has completed an extensive analysis of your 41-page, 332-paragraph data practices request," the law firm representing the school district said in a letter to Mohrman, Kaardal, & Erickson. "The District estimates that it will take 13,478 hours to search for, retrieve, and make copies of the data. Using the employee with the lowest wage rate who would have the right to search for and retrieve the data that have been requested, and applying the actual cost of making copies, the District estimates that the actual cost of searching for, retrieving, and making copies is $901,121.15."


Academia and COVID

The sphere of public education has been subject to the same psychosis that has afflicted other spheres of society since March 2020. Those in charge of this sphere haven’t addressed the problem by encouraging scholarly debate and the exercise of the academy’s critical function.

Taking their cue from forces outside the academy, and from irresponsible elements within it such as the notorious pandemic modeling of the Ferguson team at Imperial College London, they have instead contributed to the general dysfunction.

Nearly two years on, academic bureaucrats in disposable plastic masks (whatever happened to the righteous revolt against single-use plastics?) still solemnly swear that we’re facing the most serious health crisis since the Spanish flu. That the infection fatality rate isn’t remotely like that of the Spanish flu isn’t mentioned. That their masks are designed to screen large droplets or dust particles, not tiny viruses or proteins, goes unremarked. That the vaccines they tout are incapable of eradicating the virus, while quite capable of doing serious harm to alarming numbers of people—including doctors—they don’t admit.

Nor do they point out that these “vaccines” aren’t, in fact, vaccines but novel genetic treatments with uncertain short- and long-term effects.

The academy, especially at the tertiary level, has largely failed the society it’s meant to serve. Heavily dependent on government funding, and to no small extent on pharmaceutical investments, it has put up almost no resistance to the quite deadly (pdf) coronavirus narrative or to government directives pursuant to that narrative. For the most part, it has merely echoed (where it hasn’t helped engineer) the media’s own talking points. Huge cracks in the narrative have been papered over. Students haven’t been taught to think critically about it or even to exercise a mild hermeneutic of suspicion.

Indeed, they have been shielded from those who do think critically.

The academy, moreover, has even taken to offering students, the great majority of whom aren’t naturally at risk from the virus, medical advice it’s not qualified to give, advice that in many places has morphed into a demand: “Get vaccinated, as soon as possible and as often as necessary.” Still worse, it’s standing by as pharmaceutical companies—the same companies that invest in university chairs mandated to promote popular uptake of their products—conspire (pdf) with governments to seduce even the very young, whose risk is close to nil, into their lucrative experiment with a hybrid immune system that functions by genetic manipulation; in short, with immune systems that will be permanently dependent on those products.

This, quite manifestly, isn’t a pandemic exit strategy—even if, as some contend, it’s for the elite an economic exit strategy. Ultimately, it’s an entrance strategy. We’re poised now on the threshold of a brave new world in which the natural will give way to the artificial, democracy to technocracy, liberty to bio-surveillance and control. The constitutional principles on which we have hitherto relied will mean nothing.

The coronavirus crisis, in other words, is a convenient tool by which we’re being levered into position for a “new normal,” whose architects promise security in exchange for what a free person can only regard as slavery. Anyone who doubts this should begin paying closer attention. The essential facts are well documented and profoundly troubling.

Other tools are being forged to complete the job. Our world is being made to reel from crisis to crisis. But the trampling of rights, of reason, of truth, of conscience, of individual responsibility and choice, already is taking place. A culture of fear and coercion, a punitive culture, is being constructed inside the walls of academia itself, as of virtually every other societal institution. In the name of COVID, we’re witnessing forms of discrimination and exclusion never before seen except under totalitarian regimes.

We who believe in freedom can only find all this extremely disconcerting. Lockdowns destroy lives and livelihoods. Perpetual masking and other antisocial measures disturb psyches and limit learning. Vaccine passports produce apartheid, separating obedient sheep from disobedient goats. Inoculations, even when not violently compelled (as Austria now threatens) are a shallow and perverse condition for belonging. We stand at the door of a biodigital world in which belonging itself will become an impossibly thin, purely numerical notion.

That’s the very opposite of what the academy ought to be encouraging. What especially disturbs dissenting educators is the mistreatment of students, who have been fed half-truths or outright lies both by those who know they’re lies and by those who haven’t troubled themselves to find out. Forcing experimental medicines on young people, while hypocritically branding those who dare to question the coronavirus narrative as a deplorable mob spreading “misinformation” and disease, is itself the work of a mob. Likewise, the unjust discrimination and dismissals that directly harm dissenters by depriving them of what they’ve earned and of their very capacity to earn.

People in the sphere of education who have seen or experienced such harms at first hand have begun banding together to demand change. They’re thinking outside the box in which so many of their colleagues have sought a false security. They’ve important things to say and powerful recommendations to make. They wish to stand in solidarity with the many others who are urging such changes, especially those in the fields of medicine (pdf) and law, and with the tens of thousands of people from all walks of life who are marching in protest at the undemocratic transformation of our society. God help us, some say. Yes, God help us break the spell and effect renewal while there’s still time!




Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Dems Are Using 'Invented Insurrection' to Create 2nd War on Terror Targeting Americans

Much like its George W. Bush-era counterpart, this new campaign is the product of an alliance of politicians and government officials as they seek to gain additional federal powers to fight terrorism.

Unlike its previous iteration, however, this new war on terror is to be fought domestically.

Its enemy is not the Islamic State group, al-Qaida or any other foreign threat. Rather, under the direction of the Biden administration, this new effort seeks to end the supposed threat of homegrown, far-right, white supremacist terrorism.

In order to further this domestic war on terror, politicians and federal bureaucrats have spread false and exaggerated claims regarding the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion, painting it as some sort of armed terrorist insurrection — as if the few hundred unarmed protesters and rioters were part of a premeditated plot to overthrow the entire U.S. government.

While inflated rhetoric is often the norm within the realm of government and politics, this specific instance is a calculated act with a specified goal, according to one national security expert.

In his view, efforts to push this supposed “insurrection” are nothing more than a ploy to “institutionalize the use of state power to implement the woke agenda.”

“It is a classic example of ‘never let a crisis go to waste,'” Jim Hanson, president of the Security Studies Group, told The Western Journal.

Before joining the Security Studies Group, Hanson served in the Army Special Forces and conducted counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations as well as diplomatic, intelligence and humanitarian operations in more than a dozen countries.

Consequently, Hanson has seen his fair share of insurgencies — and, in his opinion, the Capitol incursion was anything but.

“It is a riot. You know, it was definitely a tiny group of people who may have had some insurrectionist ideas, but they didn’t even bring guns,” Hanson said. “You know? I mean, how intense of an insurrection are you having if you didn’t even bring anything beyond bear spray?”

Nevertheless, Democratic politicians and left-leaning media outlets (and even a select few Republicans) continue to forward a number of false claims and exaggerations to support this “insurrection” narrative.

Inventing an Insurrection

The first of these claims involves Eric Munchel, a rioter seen carrying zip-ties within the Capitol. A photo of Munchel was used by various outlets — including Politico, The Washington Post and The New York Times — as evidence that rioters had entered the Capitol with premeditated plans to kidnap members of Congress.

However, according to the very lawyers who prosecuted Munchel’s case, this was nothing more than a media fabrication. A Jan. 21 court filing submitted by the prosecutors found that Munchel had not brought the zip-ties with him. Rather, he found them within the Capitol and was merely attempting to keep them away from Capitol Police officers.

Another claim — that the so-called insurrectionists entered the Capitol bearing firearms — was found to be similarly dubious.

On March 3, Jill Sandborn, the FBI’s director of counterterrorism, admitted as much during a joint hearing of the Senate Rules and Homeland Security committees.

“How many firearms were confiscated in the Capitol or on the Capitol grounds that day?” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin asked the FBI official.

“To my knowledge, we have not recovered any on that day from any of the arrests at the scene at this point,” Sanborn answered.

Perhaps the most egregious Jan. 6 falsehood was the assertion that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick had been murdered by pro-Trump rioters who beat him to death with a fire extinguisher. This claim was forwarded by multiple New York Times reports and even President Joe Biden himself.

Washington’s chief medical examiner found that Sicknick had suffered two strokes on Jan. 7 — after the riot — and had died of natural causes unrelated to the previous day’s events.

As journalist Glenn Greenwald pointed out in his breakdown of false claims regarding the riot, “Without Sicknick having his skull bashed in with a fire extinguisher, there were no deaths that day that could be attributed to deliberate violence by pro-Trump protesters.”

In addition to the many false claims, Johnson’s team made another finding that dismantles the insurrection narrative. According to security footage unveiled by the senator on June 10, as many as 300 unauthorized individuals (roughly 38 percent of the total rioters) were allowed to enter the Capitol through the upper West Terrace doorway while five Capitol Police officers stood by. One officer was even gesturing toward the door as these individuals walked past him.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that violent insurrections would not begin with police officers peacefully ushering the so-called insurrectionists inside.

In spite of all this, the Biden administration has used its influence to “create the appearance of a conspiracy to commit an insurrection,” according to a June 5 report in Human Events by Hanson. Titled “An Invented Insurrection,” it details an indictment filed by the Biden administration on May 30.

The federal indictment claimed that members of the Oath Keepers — a group of “current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,'” according to their website — had conspired to commit illegal acts on Jan. 6.

As Hanson points out in his piece, however, the indictment proves the opposite. Evidence provided in the filing shows that the only action these Oath Keepers had “conspired” to take was to “petition the government for redress of grievances where citizens who believed an investigation into the election was needed gathered to say so.”

So then, why spread so many false claims?

In Hanson’s view, the answer is simple: Claiming that an “armed insurrection” led by “domestic extremists” is looming empowers the state with seemingly unlimited authority.

Infringing on the Rights of Rioters and Protesters
Already, it appears that this false “insurrection” narrative is giving federal agencies authority that would otherwise be seen as an infringement of constitutional rights.

“They have arrested pretty much anybody who took a selfie in the Capitol for federal crimes. They’re overcharging everything. They’re keeping people in solitary confinement, no bail, and basically abusing state power in a very scary way,” Hanson told The Western Journal.

The federal crackdown on those present on Jan. 6 has indeed been extensive. As of March 13, 312 people had been charged in relation to the incursion, The Washington Post reported.

In many cases, it appears that those arrested for being present at the Capitol had little or nothing to do with the violence.

One couple present at the rally preceding the incursion — who never entered the Capitol — had their house tossed, their electronic devices seized and even a pocket Constitution taken from them by FBI agents.

Additionally, according to a report from Politico, one defendant housed in the D.C. jail was allegedly beaten by guards. The report also found that those being held in connection with the incursion “have been placed in restrictive housing” and have been subjected to “23-hour-a-day isolation.”

Many such defendants are being held indefinitely.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn L. Rakoczy, the sheer number of cases requires “postponement” and “moving too fast will make prosecution ‘impossible, or result in a miscarriage of justice,'” The Post reported.

In the same story, the outlet admits that prolonged imprisonment is “threatening defendants’ constitutional rights to a speedy trial.”

These abuses may very well extend far beyond the events of Jan. 6 and those involved, Hanson warns.


AT&T Gets Woke: 'White People, You are the Problem'

In Christopher Rufo's latest article for City Journal, he exposed the communication company for teaching ideas that “racism is a uniquely white trait” and that white people are “the problem.”

Rufo is a leading reporter on the CRT-takeover of American companies and education.

He reported that AT&T’s CEO John Stankey launched a CRT-based program last year that sought to teach employees that the company has an “obligation to engage on this issue of racial injustice” and to agitate for “systemic reforms in police departments across the country.”

“According to a senior employee, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, managers at AT&T are now assessed annually on diversity issues, with mandatory participation in programs such as discussion groups, book clubs, mentorship programs, and race reeducation exercises. White employees, the source said, are tacitly expected to confess their complicity in “white privilege” and “systemic racism,” or they will be penalized in their performance reviews.

As part of the overall initiative, employees are asked to sign a loyalty pledge to “keep pushing for change,” with suggested “intentions” such as “reading more about systemic racism” and “challenging others’ language that is hateful.” “If you don’t do it,” the senior employee says, “you’re [considered] a racist.” AT&T did not respond when asked for comment," Rufo wrote.

He also exposed the program's internal portal, which insists that white people are to blame for racism. It tells employees, “White America, if you want to know who’s responsible for racism, look in the mirror.”

The portal also says, “White people, you are the problem. Regardless of how much you say you detest racism, you are the sole reason it has flourished for centuries.”

Rufo also reports that the portal tells employees that “American racism is a uniquely white trait,” “Black people cannot be racist,” “ [white women} have been telling lies on black men since they were first brought to America in chains,” and that all whites “enjoy the opportunities and privileges that white supremacy affords [them].” Someone named Dahleen Glanton authored that page in the portal.

I am glad I have Verizon right about now.


States Defying Biden Mandate by Carving Out ‘Natural Immunity’ Exception

Florida has joined the ranks of GOP-led states that are requiring employers to carve out an exemption to COVID-19 vaccine mandates for those who have recovered from prior infection.

CBS News reported Wednesday that West Virginia and Arkansas also have this policy in place.

Additionally, “Republicans in Idaho, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming are also pursuing bills seeking to protect unvaccinated employees who can show they survived a prior infection, among other excluded groups,” according to the news outlet.

The move comes as President Joe Biden continues to push employers to require all employees to get vaccinated.

At an event in Brandon, Florida, last week, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation aimed at upholding individuals’ rights to make their own decisions regarding receiving the COVID vaccine.

Recognized exemptions for employees under the new Florida law include health or religious concerns, pregnancy or anticipated future pregnancy, and past recovery from COVID-19.

“Unlike what you see going on with some of the federal proposed mandates, other states, is we’re actually doing a science-based approach,” DeSantis said.

“For example, we recognize people that have natural immunity. … You have natural immunity, whatever a private employer wants to do, you’re automatically exempt because of natural immunity,” he said.


How the pandemic changed Australia's population

The article below clearly favours high levels of immigration. But why? The claim is that there is a shortage of workers in some occupations -- such as care of the elderly. But there is only a shortage at current pay rates. Pay more and you will get more workers. The only valid reason for immigration that I can see is to enable family reunions.

It is true that paying more for services to children and the elderly will increase the costs to users of those services but that could usually be prevented by reducing the burden of regulation on such services. Requiring that people tasked with the care of little children have a university degree is one example of the towering stupidity in current regulations.

And traffic congestion and the price of housing can only be worsened by an increased population. And both of those things are already hugely problematical in Australia -- mainly as a result of past high levels of immigration

Disputes over population are a staple of Australian politics. So, it’s no surprise there are plenty of views about what to do about immigration policy now that pandemic restrictions on international borders are being lifted.

Some urge a rapid catch up. A leaked briefing prepared by bureaucrats for new NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet suggested he push for “an aggressive resumption of immigration levels”. It proposed Australia welcome 2 million migrants over the next five years. That’s 400,000 annually or nearly double the pre-pandemic rate.

High rates of migration have been blamed for worsening traffic congestion and other urban challenges
High rates of migration have been blamed for worsening traffic congestion and other urban challengesCREDIT:NICK MOIR

Others want a much more gradual build-up in migration numbers following the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic. This would help drive up demand for local labour and revive wages growth which has been sluggish for nearly a decade, they argue.

And as always there are those calling for much lower migration levels, or even none.

On Monday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that from next week eligible visa holders including overseas students, skilled work visa holders and working holidaymakers will be allowed to enter Australia for the first time in almost two years. The government anticipates this will pave the way for around 200,000 new arrivals in coming months.

“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back,” Morrison said.

The Federal Government appears to have rejected the idea of an immigration catch-up period. But nor will there be a go slow. The May budget forecast net overseas migration to bounce back to pre-COVID levels (235,000 per year) by mid-decade and remain around that level into the early 2030s.

That strategy will have far-reaching consequences.

Since the 1970s Australia’s population has been expanding at an average rate of 1.4 per cent a year which is relatively fast compared to other developed countries. But growth has come to a virtual standstill thanks to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

In the year before the pandemic hit Australia added 357,000 people, but that plunged to 36,000 in the year to March 2021. According to official estimates the national population increased by just 0.1 per cent last financial year and is forecast to grow by 0.2 per cent in 2021-22.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver says the hit to population growth delivered by COVID-19 means that Australia “will be 1 million people smaller than expected pre-coronavirus”. Longer range forecasts show Australia is now expected to have 35.3 million people in 2050, which is 2.5 million less than forecast in 2015. The population will also be older than otherwise would have been the case.

The pandemic has affected another important population driver – the fertility rate. The number of babies born per woman in Australia is expected to fall temporarily because of the economic uncertainty created by COVID-19.

Official forecasts for Australia’s long-term fertility rate have also been subject to major downward revisions, largely unrelated to the pandemic. Back in 2015 the federal government assumed women would have an average of 1.9 babies over the next 40 years but this year it was cut to 1.62 babies per woman.

Australian National University demographer Liz Allen says the pandemic’s simultaneous disruption to both net overseas migration and the fertility rate will be noticeable for many years. Things as basic as family formation have been interrupted by the way COVID-19 put a stop to the way we normally mix socially.

“What’s happened to Australia’s population during the pandemic is nothing short of extraordinary,” says Allen. “We’ll be able to look back in generations to come and actually see the impact on the composition of our population.”

Even the way population is distributed across Australia has been affected. Terry Rawnsley, a demographer and urban economist at KPMG, says population growth in many regional areas, especially those relatively close to capital cities, will be much stronger than expected before the pandemic.

“The surge in people working from home has made a move to a regional area much more attractive,” he says.

Dr Allen says overseas migrants will form an essential part of Australia’s post-pandemic recovery and is fundamental if Australia is to maintain a healthy population profile in the longer term.

“What’s really concerning is that the composition of the population’s age structure has become more problematic during the pandemic,” she says. “Prior to COVID we were struggling with an age structure that meant we had insufficient people for our workforce needs, and that’s even more pronounced now. That’s going to put pressure on the nation in the post-pandemic recovery phase.”

Migrant labour is crucial to many services industries including the care of the young, the elderly and the disabled. A recent study found just over 37 per cent of paid frontline care workers were born overseas in 2016, up from 31 per cent in 2011. Another survey found 60 per cent of migrants in caring occupations were on temporary visas, and around 38 per cent arrived on student visas.

Australia is facing a shortage of at least 110,000 aged-care workers within the next decade according to research published in August by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA). The study concluded Australia is unlikely “to get anywhere close” to meeting its aged care workforce needs without migration.

“We require a workforce to sustain the nations needs and at present that means we require immigration to help us,” says Allen.

“Because of our age structure we don’t have a sufficient number of people ageing into the workforce to fill the gaps left by those ageing out, that’s the reality.”

Australia’s permanent migrant intake is capped at 160,000 per year, down recently from 190,000 a year. Skilled workers are favoured for permanent migration, although a growing share of places has been allocated under a program designed to boost business investment. Australia grants a further 13,750 permanent visas under a separate humanitarian program to resettle refugees and others overseas who are in humanitarian need.

A separate temporary migration program is largely uncapped (except for limits on working holiday visa grants for some countries) and demand driven. The stock of temporary migrants - which includes overseas students, working holidaymakers, skilled temporary residents, seasonal workers, and others - has increased by about 50,000 each year over the past decade.

Economic change along with Australia’s increasing integration with global trade and commerce has helped make population flows more complex. Knowledge-based industries which make up a growing share of our economy require skilled foreign workers to be able to come and go much more than in the past. The rise of the international education sector has added to this complexity. During the past 20 years it has emerged as Australia’s biggest services export. But overseas students are also part of the temporary migrant labour workforce (and are sometimes blamed for suppressing wages). They also increase demand for local housing and other services.

“Population can be a complicated issue,” says Allen.

Immigration is routinely blamed for a clutch of problems including traffic congestion, crowded trains, high-rise property developments and rising property prices.

A survey conducted for The Age and the Herald by research firm Resolve Strategic found 58 per cent favour restarting migration at a lower level than before the coronavirus while 20 per cent supported a return to the pre-pandemic rate.




‘Moms for Liberty’ Stirs Action in Response to Controversial School Curricula

Moms for Liberty, a nonprofit education advocacy group still in its infancy, encourages parental engagement in a growing number of school board meetings across the country to demand a voice in their children’s education and push back on curricula and policies that they oppose.

Two Florida moms, Tina Descovich of Bevard County and Tiffany Justice of Indian River County, started Moms for Liberty in January 2021. Just 11 months later, the movement currently has 160 chapters and 70,000 members in 33 states.

“Parents have been involved in the Parent Teacher Association [PTA], supporting their classrooms and building playgrounds. PTA serves a great role. But it doesn’t address policy, and parents should have a role in that,” Descovich told The Epoch Times. “Parents have not been engaged at the policy-making level.”

She believes that parents have become more engaged because they got a glimpse inside the classroom when COVID-19 mitigation efforts closed schools, moved classes online, and kept students at home.

“Parents saw sub-par curriculum and indoctrination,” Descovich said.

How It Started
There was no specific event that prompted the creation of Moms for Liberty. It was more of a response to an uneasy climate. Descovich and Justice were school board members with terms ending in 2020, and they were members of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members, where they met with other school board members from districts around the state with similar stories. Parents with concerns about masking or schools being closed weren’t being heard.

“Some were being mocked by the boards,” Descovich said.

Through the coalition, she heard about the parent of a deaf child explaining that masks prevent her child from lip-reading, who got no satisfaction and left a school board meeting crying.

“We’ve seen other groups organize, like Moms Deserve Action. They would come into board meetings with matching shirts and a message, and I’d watch other school board members just cave on an issue.”

When parents show up in numbers and have a consistent message, boards are more likely to represent them.

“The issue is the balance of power in education,” Descovich said.

She noted that education is controlled by three entities: the teachers’ union; school board members, many of whom are elected through the teachers’ union; and curriculum providers, including textbook and digital curriculum writers.

“Parents have allowed this to happen,” Descovich said. “We sat on school boards and watched as no parents came in to go over new textbooks. Nobody was paying attention. Families and community members need to be involved.”

It’s easy to think that everything is fine if you live in a nice school district and your child is getting A’s, she said.

“We’ve put a lot of trust in the school system and haven’t realized who was making all the decisions,” Descovich said. “The teachers’ unions have a full seat at the negotiations table with the board. And it’s more than salary negotiations. It’s what time school starts, days off, and early release days to give teachers more planning time. No one is representing kids and families.”

Chapters Across America

Originally conceived as a Florida-only organization, within the first month, people from several states saw posts on social media about Moms for Liberty and asked if they could start a chapter. It has continued to grow in the same fashion since then.

Moms for Liberty doesn’t drive issues for chapters. They teach local chapters how to read school board agendas and budgets and ask the chapters to advocate for the issues that the chapters themselves care about.

But Descovich said they’ve noticed some consistencies across the country: The same issues keep coming up. At first, parents were interested in getting schools open, and they wanted to weigh in on forced masking, COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccines being offered on school campuses. There have been many examples of critical race theory and other controversial curricula as well.

Moms for Liberty has heard about a Florida school that hired a third-party contractor to teach children about race. They held an assembly and divided the students in the room by race.

There was a South Carolina school that asked white students to examine their white privilege and male privilege and that taught that anyone who is white is an oppressor.

There was an Ohio school that gave high school students a writing prompt book that included instructions to “write a sex story you would never share with your mom, then rewrite it as you would tell your mom.” Another prompt instructed the students to write about their favorite part of the male body.

There was a Florida school that allowed children to declare that they were transgendered in school and be treated as a different gender, but they wouldn’t inform parents of the student’s request, potentially allowing the student to live a double life at home and school.

There was a Tennessee school that had emotionally wrenching and graphic books for 4th graders describing the miscarriage of a baby as well as a book for 2nd graders that depicted the suffering of migrant children while placing blame on white children, as well as other books that parents said weren’t age-appropriate.

As of late, some school boards around the United States have intimidated and curtailed the speech of parents who wished to make public statements at board meetings, Descovich said.

“The other side says we don’t want sex and race mentioned in schools—that we want to whitewash history. But that’s not true,” Descovich said. “We want to teach accurate, true history that is age-appropriate and isn’t racist. In other words, it doesn’t divide children at such a young age by race and doesn’t place blame on children of today for actions of the past.”

Moms for Liberty aims to have more than 3,000 chapters, one in each U.S. county, and a Moms for Liberty member at every school board meeting in the country in the near future, covering 13,000 school districts.

“You are not alone in your concerns for your child’s education, and it’s important that you get involved and speak up for your child,” Descovich said. “Because if you don’t, someone else will.”


Arizona State University students campaign to kick out Kyle Rittenhouse after acquittal

A group of university students have rallied to kick out Kyle Rittenhouse despite the teen being acquitted of murder charges.

The New York Post reports four groups led by Students for Socialism are behind a rally planned for Wednesday to boot Rittenhouse, 18, who revealed that he was an online student at the Tempe school and would like to live a quiet life on campus.

“KILLER OFF CAMPUS,” reads the flyer, calling for the university to “protect students from a violent, bloodthirsty murderer.”

A list of four demands includes getting the 18-year-old cleared killer withdrawn from ASU, as well as for the school to “release a statement against white supremacy and racist murderer Kyle Rittenhouse.

The groups also want police funding to instead go to a multicultural centre and to get a CAARE “healing” centre.

The protest is also backed by Students for Justice in Palestine, the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition and the Mexican-American student group MEChA de ASU.

The groups concede that Rittenhouse — who has said he supports Black Lives Matter — was cleared of all charges over the triple shooting during riots last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The jury agreed that he had been defending himself after getting attacked.

But the groups dismiss that as proof of a “flawed ‘justice’ system” — insisting, “Kyle Rittenhouse is still guilty to his victims and the families of those victims.”

A spokesperson for ASU’s Students for Socialism told Fox News that they do not feel safe with a “mass shooter” being “so carelessly allowed” at the school, even if he appears to be just online.


Australia: Sydney University academics’ fury over dumped departments

This is just about a new boss wanting to make his mark. The only possible reason for the rejig is to increase cross-disciplinary contact and co-operation. But that is a snark. It already happens when the parties concerned want it. I studied and taught in a "School" that comprised people from psychology, sociology and anthropology -- the School of Behavioral Sciences at Macquarie university. And I saw no instance of research co-operation across those disciplines.

Arts and social sciences academics at Sydney University are furious about a plan to refashion the faculty’s departments as disciplines, with many saying they have never seen such anger in decades at the institution.

Sixty senior faculty members, including more than 20 chairs of departments – including history, philosophy and English – and almost 30 professors within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, or FASS, have written to the university’s administration to express their alarm.

It is the first major skirmish between university management and academics under the rule of new vice-chancellor, Mark Scott.

Chair of Archaeology Annie Clarke said it would be more than a name change.

Departments were as old as the university itself, and were an integral part of its intangible heritage. She warned the proposed “disciplines” were nebulous and risked damaging the university’s reputation. She has been at Sydney since 2003 and said “I’ve never seen people so upset”.

“All the major universities in the world have departments, and this slippage into a different kind of culture around disciplines is increasing centralised control of what we do,” Professor Clarke said. “For us, it’s a line in the sand.”

A proposal presented to FASS academics this month said the faculty regularly failed to meet budget targets for domestic students, and only two of its schools – economics, and media and communications – attracted significant numbers of overseas students.

Those schools cross-subsidised the rest of the faculty, but, as COVID-19 border closures showed, the international market was volatile. Costs were growing at 2.8 per cent a year but revenue was only climbing by 2 per cent a year, which was unsustainable. “It makes sense for us to consider changes in the way we work,” the proposal said.

FASS is divided into six schools, which are in turn divided into departments, with a chair of each. In 2019, only two of its schools returned a surplus: Economics ($41 million) and the School of Languages and Cultures ($6m), the proposal said.

The loss-makers were the schools of Literature Art and Media ($91,000), Education and Social Work ($532,000), Social and Political Sciences ($5 million) and the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry ($13 million).

The proposed changes involve re-naming schools and shifting the subjects within them. A new School of Humanities would take in subjects from the old School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, while adding linguistics and religion but losing gender studies to social sciences.

All undergraduate units with fewer than 24 students would be scrapped.

The departments within schools would be renamed disciplines, to “move away from the administrative and financial silos”, increase interaction between similar subjects, and reduce internal competition. The department chair would become a discipline lead.

Other universities, such as Melbourne and Monash, have also adopted the “discipline” approach. The university defines a department as an organisational unit, and discipline as a sub-field of knowledge. Departments don’t have their own budgets.

However, academics are worried this will curtail their ability to manage their own subject.

The letter from angry FASS academics said the discipline concept was nebulous and risky, and their views had been ignored. “There is no clear reason or benefit for the proposed change, as no specific problems with the current structure have been identified,” it said.

Professor Clarke said students, alumni and staff strongly identified with departments. The new structure would lead to an “erosion and loss of identity,” she said.

“There is an increasing centralised control of academic life. In departments we have a fair degree of control over what we teach our students, what we do, and public facing, the engagement work we do. We feel that there’s a slow erosion of the structures of a university that we feel are really important.”

Not everyone agrees. Sociologist Salvatore Babones, who was not a signatory to the letter, said his colleagues were justifiably concerned about the consolidation of smaller departments into bigger ones.

“But relabelling departments as disciplines is the epitome of pro forma reform: departments become disciplines, department chairs become discipline leads, and the rest is business as usual,” he said. “It’s yet another missed opportunity for a genuine reexamination and long-overdue modernization of how we educate the next generation.”

A spokeswoman for the university administration said the FASS proposal involved significant consultation with staff, and the latest version involved smaller changes with no redundancies or reductions in employment.

More consultation was underway. “Like other institutions, we need to look for ways to ensure ongoing sustainability alongside continued high-quality teaching and research,” she said.

“The proposal to change from departments to a disciplinary structure – and to merge a very small number of disciplines – will allow our academic staff to collaborate more easily, reduce administrative double-up, produce a more consistent and flexible student experience and contribute to securing the future of our smaller disciplines.”




Monday, November 29, 2021

A Canadian school has cancelled an event with ISIS survivor Nadia Murad, saying her visit would be offensive to Muslims and foster 'Islamophobia'

Murad was scheduled to sit down with students from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) - the largest school Board in Canada with nearly 600 schools - to discuss her book The Last Girl: My Story Of Captivity in February 2022.

Murad's graphic exposé detailed how she escaped the Islamic State, where she was ripped from her home and sold into sexual slavery aged just 14 years old, according to The Telegraph.

She uses the book to talk about how she was raped and tortured before finding her way to a refugee camp in Durhok, in northern Iraq, and then to Germany where she now lives.

But before the event could happen the superintendent of the Board Helen Fisher said that her students would not participate.

She has since issued an apology but refused to allow her students to attend.

Fisher expressed that she believed the book would 'promote Islamophobia' and cited how offensive the book was to her Muslim students as her reason for cancelling the event.

The decision enraged TDSB parent Tanya Lee, who wrote an email to the superintendent about the decision.

Lee also founded the book club - called A Room Of Your Own Book Club - which allows teen girls aged 13 to 18 from secondary schools around the country to hear from female authors, and was hosting the event set to feature Murad.

'This is what the Islamic State means. It is a terrorist organization. It has nothing to do with ordinary Muslims. The Toronto school board should be aware of the difference,' she wrote, as reported by The Telegraph.

The next day Lee told the news site that Fisher sent her a copy of the school board's policy on selecting fair, culturally-relevant reading materials, which a TDSB spokesperson said was 'a misunderstanding'. 'The equity department does not review and approve books for book clubs,' they added.

The Board later issued a statement stating they 'wanted to provide some clarification'.

'An opinion that did not reflect the position of the Toronto District School Board was shared with the organizer of the book club prior to staff having an opportunity to read the books - something that is routinely done before giving them to students,' it read.

The statement added that 'staff are currently reading' the book and the Board 'sincerely apologizes to Ms Murad (who) has powerful stories to tell,' adding that they 'believe students would learn a great deal (from)'.

Murad is a leading advocate for survivors of genocide and sexual violence also became a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and UN Goodwill Ambassador.

Lee, who opened the book club up to young girls from the UK, told The Telegraph: 'The book club event for A Room Of Your Own Book Club with Nadia Murad will go ahead across Canada in February.

'The TDSB has not committed to letting their students attend. This is unfortunate for all involved. A great loss to the students, community, and educators at the TDSB.'

However, this isn't the first time Fisher banned a book from a book club event.

Back in October, A Room Of Your Own Book Club featured author and lawyer Marie Henein, who defended Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi while he was being faced with sexual assault charges.

Although Ghomeshi was acquitted on all charges in 2016, the TDSB sill refused to let its students attend the event.

In response, dozens of users took to Twitter to express their fiery discontent towards TDSB's decision.

One user referred to when Holocaust survivors spoke to TDSB schools and sarcastically said: 'I guess all the Holocaust survivors who have spoken at schools were promoting hatred of Germans - any response to your idiotic position on Nadia Murad???'

Meanwhile, another user said the school's choice to cancel Murad's event is 'sad (because) she is being de-platformed'.

Yet another response said the decision is the 'opposite' of cancel culture, 'where incompetent professionals face no consequences for bungling their jobs, because their errors are seen as being committed in the (nominal) service of social justice'.


‘Woke’ London headmaster leaving school amid charges of anti-Semitism

The headmaster of England’s most expensive private day school is leaving her post after a revolt from parents who claim an “ultra-woke” curriculum lead to anti-Semitic incidents.

Robin Appleby, who has led the prestigious, $50,000-a-year American School in London since 2017, is allegedly exiting to “focus on her own wellbeing and that of her family,” but insiders tell the Daily Mail she is being booted from the star-studded school — and her $550,000-a-year position — because of her controversial curriculum.

Parents, who include Salma Hayek and soccer coach Thierry Henry, received notice of her abrupt departure last week.

Appleby’s staff allegedly used the words “Nazi,” “swastika” and “Hitler” to describe the reaction parents had to the school’s lessons on race, a claim the school denied, the Mail reported.

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, an influential Jewish organization that documents hate crimes told the Mail: “We have been receiving disturbing reports about the American School in London. There are claims that terms like ‘Nazis’ were used at a staff meeting. Although the school denies this extreme language referred to Jewish parents, it apparently does not dispute that these terms did appear in their discussion, which allegedly also featured language suggesting that anti-Semitism and racism are different.”

Last year, Appleby announced a “detailed action plan” involving sweeping changes to the school’s “diversity, equality and inclusivity” curriculum. Parents were instructed via email on how to “raise anti-racist children” and “recognize their own implicit biases” — and were then told the school was adopting a critical race theory curriculum.

Gym classes were replaced with debates on “politics in sport” and CRT infiltrated all academic subjects, with reports circulating that teachers were accusing students of “white fragility” and of having inherited “white guilt.”

According to messages seen by the Mail on a parental WhatsApp group, students were told they were “either oppressors or oppressed,” depending on their ethnicity and the school then decided to “introduce racially segregated after-school clubs, in an initiative one parent branded ‘offensive and immoral’, arguing that it breached UK equalities law,” the Mail reported.

Some Jewish parents complained of a “culture of fear” in which their children had been ostracized by peers following lessons focusing on Israel, according to the Mail.

One parent accused the school of “institutional racism,” while another parent compared the school to a “woke cult,” adding in a letter of complaint that “every subject, from art to literature to history, is now being taught through a prism of race and gender, at times to very young children.”

Regarding the “woke” curriculum the rep said: “We are committed to building and sustaining a diverse, equitable and inclusive school community and firmly believe this will lead to a better future for all our children,” a school rep told the Mail in regard to the curriculum.


Australia: Another 10 million students under education growth plan

Australia should shake up its $40 billion international student sector to shift the focus to teaching online and offshore, the government says, arguing that an extra 10 million students could benefit from an Australian education over the next 20 years.

In its new 10-year international education strategy, the government says Australia should look to Britain which in 2019 taught 407,000 students in offshore arrangements, compared to 117,000 – or 22 per cent – by Australian education providers.

The new strategy says Australia must diversify where students come from and what and where they study. Louie Douvis

Experts, however, say the prospect of living and working in Australia is a strong drawcard for students.

“We know that the vast majority of international students still want to study onshore in Australia for a significant proportion of their studies,” said Jake Foster, chief commercial officer with education consultancy AECC Global.

“The government is actively encouraging and supporting students to start their studies offshore, which could help grow the Australian international education sector in the years ahead.”

The international education strategy for 2021-2030 also says Australia must diversify the number of countries from which students are sourced and diversify the courses in which they study.

While China and India are the highest source countries for all major international education destinations, Australia has the highest concentration of them, with 58 per cent of students arriving from those two countries. That is compared to 50 per cent for the US and Canada and 36 per cent for Britain.

The strategy argues that study for an Australian qualification and the right to live and work in Australia for a time following graduation should be linked as a means of driving skilled workers into the economy.

Alignment with skills priorities

The strategy notes that almost half of all international students who study in Australia are enrolled in business and management courses, but there would be greater benefit for the country if they were to graduate in priority skills areas such as computing.

“Better aligning program choices with priority employment fields will delivery more job-ready graduates in the disciplines and regions where they are most needed,” the strategy reads.

The strategy argues that the diversification of source countries and study areas will improve the educational experience for international and domestic students.

Brett Blacker, chief executive of English Australia, which represents the country’s English language, or ELICOS, colleges, said teaching students online and offshore required a trade-off with the soft diplomacy and flow-on economic benefits of teaching students onshore.

“But that doesn’t mean they have to be mutually exclusive. We can build some pipelines through students doing some of their program offshore and then coming to Australia,” Mr Blacker said.

Vicki Thomson, chief executive of the Group of Eight, said concentration of Chinese students in the group’s universities was higher still at 68 per cent, with just 5 per cent from India.

Students, skilled migrants are next priority entrants
“Clearly, diversifying into alternative markets is going to take time,” Ms Thomson said.

She also said most international students in Go8 universities were postgraduates in fields such as engineering and science.

“These are precisely the skills that we need to address our current skill shortages and research demands,” she said.

Over the past two years, the number of international students enrolled in Australian institutions has dropped by 150,000. The sector was valued at $40 billion to the economy in 2019 and is expected to be worth half that by the end of the year.




Sunday, November 28, 2021

DC Public Schools Urge Parents to ‘Decolonize’ Their Thanksgiving

Did you need recommendations to get the colonizing out of your Thanksgiving? If so, Lewis Ferebee has come to the rescue.

Ferebee, the chancellor of Washington, D.C.’s school system, issued a public letter to parents and families Tuesday titled “Sharing My Gratitude.” It was originally sent to those in the D.C. Public Schools community the previous Thursday, but his gratitude was indeed too precious not to share with a wider audience.

There were two paragraphs of gratitude, it must be said. Some of it was even laudable.

“Every moment I spend in our schools, I am struck by joyful learning happening. I am inspired by the warmth of our educators and the curiosity of our students,” Ferebee wrote. “I am grateful for the hard work of all our staff, and the support of our families. Thank you to each of you.”

So much for all of that. After a few photos of students in the D.C. school system — none of which was particularly Thanksgiving-centric, for whatever it’s worth — we went on to the usual spiel about COVID safety, boosters and how “we can help keep our community safe by getting vaccinated, limiting our travel, and avoiding high risk environments.”

And then we got onto the section you’ll need if you’re for a colonizer-free Thanksgiving this year: “Recognizing the History of the Holiday.”

“Thanksgiving is a day that can be difficult for many to celebrate as we reflect on the history of the holiday and the horrors inflicted on our indigenous populations,” Ferebee wrote. “If you celebrate, our Equity team has shared resources for how you can consider decolonizing your Thanksgiving. ”

Make sure to write these down, people. He’s the Butterball Hotline for wokeness, I daresay.

First, Ferebee said that for those hosting Thanksgiving dinner, “consider doing a land acknowledgment.” A land acknowledgement, according to a linked page from the Native Governance Center, involves acknowledging things such as “[t]he Indigenous people to whom the land belongs,” “[t]he history of the land and any related treaties” and “[c]orrect pronunciation for the names of the Tribes, places, and individuals that you’re including.”

“Don’t sugarcoat the past. Use terms like genocide, ethnic cleansing, stolen land, and forced removal to reflect actions taken by colonizers,” the Native Governance Center says.

But it doesn’t have to be a bummer!

“Land acknowledgments shouldn’t be grim,” it stresses. “They should function as living celebrations of Indigenous communities. Ask yourself, ‘How am I leaving Indigenous people in a stronger, more empowered place because of this land acknowledgment?’ Focus on the positivity of who Indigenous people are today.”

Acknowledge genocide, focus on positivity. Got that?

Next thing, do your reading on decolonizing turkey day. Thankfully (pun unintended), Ferebee has linked two listicles and some book recommendations for both adults and children.

One listicle by Alexis Bunten at Bioneers only has three tips to decolonize your Thanksgiving, so we’ll go with that. (The other, with eight tips, includes an exhortation to “End Racist Native Mascots in Sports” — a heavy item to check off your decolonizing to-do list on just one Thursday in November, if you ask me.)

First: “Combat erasure by telling the real story of Thanksgiving around the table.”

Erasure is, for example, not telling how “Wampanoag peoples had already been decimated by disease introduced by European traders by the time of the first Thanksgiving, how they had been stolen and sold as slaves back in Europe, or how their graves were robbed of precious seeds to go with them to the afterlife by starving Pilgrims whose old world seeds would not grow in the new land.”

Second: “Re-center Thanksgiving by serving locally sourced food.”

We’ve de-centered Thanksgiving by only focusing on East Coast Native Americans, Bunten wrote (her family is from an Aleut and Yup’ik Eskimo town in Alaska, where European contact first happened in 1741) — so the key to de-colonization is buying foods grown locally for your Thanksgiving meal, for reasons never fully explained.

“Our Thanksgiving meal was comprised of organic foods, indigenous to North America! After a starter of squash soup, we feasted on roast duck with wild rice stuffing, cranberry sauce, chestnuts, and micro-greens salad,” Bunten wrote.

So essentially, an organic, locavore version of roughly the same meal everyone who chooses duck over turkey is going to have. Take that, colonizers!

Finally: “Address oppression by widening your circle. Ask someone outside your usual group of friends and family what Thanksgiving means to them.”

She describes a dinner where she was “joined by guests of different ages, ethnicities, religions and political views who grew up across the United States.” Unless I see a picture of someone in a MAGA hat or a Federalist Society T-shirt, I’m going to throw a challenge flag on there being a representative distribution of political views at that table.

And then there are the book lists Ferebee linked for adults and kids.

We’ve already digested enough wokeness to take in for one holiday, I feel, but if you want to buy a copy of “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer ($29.99 at Barnes and Noble) or “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” for your preschooler ($12.68 at Amazon), I mean, they’re there.

Just so we’re clear, then, here’s the Lewis Ferebee primer for parents decolonizing your holiday, as assembled from the links he helpfully provided:

Acknowledge the land you’re currently sitting on was stolen.
Make sure to use appropriate terms, such as “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.” But don’t be a downer about it!

Tell the real story about Thanksgiving during dinner, the one about genocide ‘n’ stuff — because, rest assured, your kids haven’t heard enough of it in D.C. Public Schools.

Re-center the holiday by eating a locally sourced meal. (I don’t know how this works to decolonize the holiday, but it does.)

Invite someone outside your circle to the dinner table — even those with different political views. Everyone on the political spectrum should be represented, from liberals on the right to progressives in the center and unreconstructed communists on the left.

Buy some stuff from one of America’s two largest book conglomerates. (Remember that “locally sourced” piffle? Yeah, forget it.)

There, in brief, is your guide on decolonizing your Thanksgiving and/or why D.C. Public Schools is such a hot mess.

You’re welcome, America.


Fairfax Schools Announce Reinstatement of Two Pornographic Books Despite Parental Pushback

Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia announced that two books that had been removed from the district's libraries for containing sexually explicit content will be reinstated after a two-month review process determined that the books have been "deemed appropriate for high school readers."

"Gender Queer: A Memoir" by Maia Kobabe, which contains explicit illustrations of oral sex and masturbation, and "Lawn Boy" by Jonathan Evison, containing graphic descriptions of sex between men and children, were removed from FCPS libraries in September after a parent raised concern over the books at a school board meeting.

FCPS denies that "Lawn Boy" includes pedophilia, saying in the announcement that there "is no pedophilia present in the book."

The parent said in an interview following the board meeting that the books "are actually so much worse than I ever would have imagined. So much worse."

Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services Noel Klimenko praised the reimplementation of the books in a Nov. 23 news release.

"I am satisfied that the books were selected according to FCPS regulations and are appropriate to include in libraries that serve high school students," Klimenko said of the books being reinstated. "Both books have value beyond their pages for students who may struggle to find relatable stories."

The decision to put the books back on FCPS shelves came after two committees — made up of school administrators, librarians, parents, and students — voted unanimously to again offer the books to high school students.

The committees' decision will hold, pending any further appeal, FCPS said in the news release.

Nonprofit parent group Parents Defending Education slammed the decision to reinstate the books into FCPS libraries.

"The county’s actions are insulting and downright cowardly," Nicole Neily, President and Founder of Parents Defending Education, said in a statement to Townhall. "Schools are no place for hardcore pornography, yet Fairfax County Public Schools insists on pushing this graphic material upon our children."

"By announcing their decision over Thanksgiving break, they clearly hope that parents won’t take notice, she continued. "However, their actions show just how unfamiliar they are with parents: We’re always looking out for our children, and we won’t take this lying down.


Georgia School System Paid Nearly $100K for Panorama Education’s 'Social Emotional Learning' Surveys

The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System in Georgia announced that it would be using Panorama Education’s Social Emotional Learning surveys for students and staff, costing more than $95,000 that the district said would be paid for using federal CARES Act funds.

The district said that the survey will include questions on challenging feelings, positive feelings, self-management, social awareness, grit, learning strategies, school engagement and valuing school, school climate, sense of belonging, and teacher-student relationships.

Panorama Education, the controversial organization founded by Attorney General Merrick Garland’s son-in-law, has reportedly been data mining students through its surveys.

Parents of students attending other schools throughout the country that have also used Panorama's surveys reported discovering that the organization's surveys included intrusive questions, including those about an individual's gender, sexual orientation, views on racial issues, and whether they receive free and reduced lunch. The schools then send the students' information to Panorama, and parents are unable to access their child's data, according to RealClearEducation.

"They are data mining and psychologically profiling our kids," a New Jersey parent told the news outlet of Panorama. "The questions they are asking are absolutely inappropriate in a school setting. Schools have sold our children’s privacy to a data analytics company that is tracking attendance, behavior, and family’s financial status."

And while Panoroma has previously been linked to critical race theory, the Georgia school district, acknowledging news reports showing connections between the two, claimed that the organization is in no way affiliated with the doctrine or any of its supporters.

The district said that Panorama Education is "not affiliated with any particular academic or legal philosophy, including critical race theory" and that Panorama is "does not sell critical race theory to schools." It added that the organization is "not a tool for teaching critical race theory."

Parents Defending Education slammed the district for using Panorama's SEL surveys in their schools while their students continue to struggle with traditional subject material.

"This district falls well below the state average for its reading and math outcomes with 31% of students scoring proficient in both subjects," Erika Sanzi, Director of Outreach for Parents Defending Education, said in a statement to Townhall. "District officials can't point to any evidence that these increasingly intrusive surveys are beneficial to students and $95,000 of taxpayer money would be much better used on actually teaching more students to read and do math."