Archive for category America
Drunk driving Texas teen Ethan Couch gets probation
A wealthy north Texas teenager who killed four pedestrians while driving intoxicated has been sentenced to probation, prompting anger from critics.
Ethan Couch, 16, had three times the legal drinking limit in his blood following the accident on 15 June.
His lawyers argued his family’s wealth and lack of parental oversight justified rehabilitation.
Couch had faced up to 20 years in prison for the crime.
Authorities say Couch was seen stealing two cases of beer from a local store before he and seven passengers drove away in his pick-up truck.
The truck later struck and killed a stranded motorist and three good Samaritans who had stopped to help, including a mother and daughter.
Two of the passenger’s in Couch’s pick-up truck were also seriously injured.
During his Fort Worth trial, Couch’s defence team argued he suffered from “affluenza”, a popularised term for children from wealthy families who have a sense of entitlement and make excuses for poor behaviour, according to media reports.
One psychologist testified that Couch was raised in a household where his parents were preoccupied and overly indulgent, arguing and later divorcing.
On Tuesday, Juvenile court judge Jean Boyd later determined Couch would be better served by enrolling in a private $450,000-a year (£275,200) rehabilitation centre that his parents would pay for than to be sent into the Texas juvenile justice system.
The decision raised ire from critics, who said it was too lenient a sentence and not commensurate with sentences handed down to poorer individuals for comparable crimes.
Florida psychologist Dr Gary Buffone called the sentence a slap on the wrist for “a very serious offense.
“The defence is laughable,” he told the Associated Press news agency. “Not only haven’t the parents set any consequences, but it’s being reinforced by the judge’s actions.”
The writer of an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor on Thursday said the case illustrated a “double standard” where poor kids “often go to jail for 20 years”.
Mike Hashimoto, an editorial writer for Dallas News, wrote on Wednesday that “despite all the death in his wake, Ethan Couch didn’t learn a thing he didn’t already know.
“It’s far better to come from that wealthy place where actions seldom have those nasty old consequences,” he wrote. “That’s for other folks.”
If this kid had been poor and black, he would have got the full twenty!
This leniency is just plain disgusting!
This slap on the wrist needs to be appealed, this kid needs to learn the consequences of his actions.
Oh, and the judge needs to be fired! He needs to learn the consequence of his actions too!
The chances are that through government lethargy and ignorance America is destined to be a Spanish speaking country…
Why The Alarm Is Going Off About Students Learning English As A Second Language
Full disclosure: My wife is a bilingual teacher and my children grew up speaking English and Spanish. But you don’t need those factors in your life to have a vested interest in how well the school program commonly known as ESOL – English for Speakers of Other Languages – is faring in this country, state and community.
Latinos are now the largest minority in the US. Florida’s population growth today is driven largely by Latinos. And Latinos make up almost two-thirds of Miami-Dade County’s residents.
A quarter million Florida youths, a tenth of the state’s public school students, are enrolled in ESOL. The program accounts for a fifth of Miami-Dade’s public school pupils – and more than 25 percent when you include the system’s ESOL adults.
There are certainly Florida schools, like Miami’s Coral Way K-8 Bilingual Center, where ESOL is exemplary. But as a new academic year gets underway – and as classrooms face the more rigorous Common Core standards – there are nagging signs that too many Florida ESOL students are slipping behind. Or as El Nuevo Herald education writer Daniel Shoer Roth recently put it, an “alarm has sounded” among educators across the peninsula.
By a number of measures, Florida’s ESOL report card is in fact worrisome. Last year only 9 percent of ESOL 10th graders passed the state’s standardized English reading test; only 7 percent of ESOL fourth graders are English proficient, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that many Orange County high schoolers refer to themselves as ESOL “lifers” because it’s taking them so long to pass the standardized tests and graduate.
As a result, a growing chorus of voices are calling on state officials to both revise and re-prioritize ESOL. Among the key flaws they point to: a lack of individual school accountability for ESOL performance, inadequate teacher training and a requirement that students take Florida’s standardized English exams after just one year of ESOL instruction – something Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, himself an ESOL alumnus, calls “not reasonable.”
“Overlooked and underserved, behind target, disorganized,” says Rosa Castro Feinberg, head of the Florida education committee for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), about the state’s ESOL system. “The people in the state Department of Education responsible for ESOL students are good, decent and hard-working,” she adds, “but they are few in number, and there is too much going on for them to be able to handle it in an efficient way.”
Officials insist they’re implementing the recent reform directives of a state task force and “pushing to ensure that these students are getting the services they deserve,” says Mary Jane Tappen, the education department’s deputy chancellor for curriculum, instruction and student services. She notes, for example, that the state is making sure ESOL teachers get every bit of Common Core preparation that teachers of native English speaker students are receiving.
Still, Castro Feinberg points out that a lot of state officials and legislators would still like to cut ESOL teacher training hours in half. And while the state says it’s bound by federal guidelines when it comes to the rule that standardized exams be taken after only a year of ESOL instruction, ESOL advocates insist that Washington’s fine print allows Florida to relax it. Either way, both sides agree that the task force at least came up with one means of alleviating that pressure on ESOL students: a weighted or curved grading system.
Source: WLRN Read more
North Carolina Charity Threatened With Arrest For Feeding Homeless People
A group that for years has handed out food to the homeless in Raleigh every weekend was threatened with arrest if they continued their charity work.
This past Saturday, Rev. Hugh Hollowell and other members of Love Wins Ministries (LWM), a Christian organization based in Raleigh, shuttled over hot coffee and 100 breakfast sandwiches to feed the needy downtown. Though a Raleigh city ordinance prevents anyone from distributing food in a park without a permit, LWM had a “good working relationship with the Raleigh Police Department” and had disbursed food from the sidewalk for the past six years, according to the group’s website.
However, this weekend was different, for reasons that are not yet clear. As LWM was setting up, they were approached by Raleigh police officers who informed them that if they tried to hand out their breakfast sandwiches, they would be arrested. As 70 needy people watched and waited for breakfast, LWM was forced to pack up the sandwiches and leave without distributing any food. They were told that a permit would cost $1,600 every weekend for use of the park, but the officer allegedly told them it was unlikely their application would be approved regardless.
Source: ThinkProgress Read more
Watch the Addams Family Values Thanksgiving scene
I just love this, read The Guardian article, just a click away on the logo.
Addams Family Values (1993)
Kremlin security agency to buy typewriters ‘to avoid leaks’
Russia’s agency responsible for the Kremlin security is buying typewriters – a move reportedly prompted by recent leaks by WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden.
A 486,540-rouble (£9,860) order for electric typewriters has been placed by the FSO agency on the state procurement website.
The FSO has not commented on why it needs the old-fashioned devices.
But an agency source told Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper the aim was to prevent leaks from computer hardware.
“After scandals with the distribution of secret documents by WikiLeaks, the exposes by Edward Snowden, reports about Dmitry Medvedev being bugged during his visit to the G20 London summit (in 2009), it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents,” the source said.
The source added that typewriters were already being used at Russia’s defence and emergencies ministries for drafts and secret notes, and some reports had been prepared for President Vladimir Putin by typewriter.