The Sunday Scotsman reports that "neo-conservatives in the Bush administration are on a 'collision course' with Tehran." The newspaper claims that British Prime Minister Tony Blair has turned down President Bush's request for military support for a possible air strike on Iran. Blair was a close ally of the President's in the decision of the Bush Administration to go to war in Iraq. Meanwhile, the London Times is reporting that "Iran has formed battalions of suicide bombers to strike at British and American targets if the nation's nuclear sites are attacked. According to Iranian officials, 40,000 trained suicide bombers are ready for action."
The worldwide leader of the Anglican Church, Dr. Rowan Williams, used the occasion of his Easter sermon to denounce the "Gospel Of Judas" which paints Judas in a much more favorable light than do the four Gospels of the Apostles contained in the New Testament. The report in the Sunday Telegraph said that the Archbishop poured scorn on this purported new gospel as an attempt to prevent people from "finding out what 'really' happened." The so-called gospel of Judas also was dismissed by the Pope in his Easter address to pilgrims.
In his Easter remarks, the Archbishop of Canterbury also was very harsh in his criticism of books such as The Da Vinci Code, according to the Telegraph: "The Archbishop of Canterbury today attacks society's obsession with books such as The Da Vinci Code which, he says, encourage people to believe that the Christian faith is a series of 'conspiracies and cover ups.'"
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and his Cyber Crimes Unit will host a townhall meeting in Plano on April 20th to address the problem of predators seeking children online. The meeting is designed to arm parents with the tools they need to keep their children safer on the Internet
National statistics show that one in five children received unwanted sexual solicitations online each year.
As anyone who regularly reads the DallasBlog knows, we have been very tough on Steve Blow for a number of the columns he has written. To be blunt, we haven't been all that impressed with what he has had to say recently. Let me be the first then to congratulate Steve on an excellent column Easter Sunday about one Patty Huffman who has found her way back from a very hard life. A single mom with three kids at a young age, Patty drifted into topless dancing and, later, into prostitution. Finally, she turned to an organization called New Friends New Life, an organization designed to help women working in sexually oriented businesses. She has changed her life as a result. Steve Blow quotes Patty Huffman as saying: "For so long, I lived in darkness," she said. "But God brought me into the light. Now I want the world to know: Patricia Huffman is living in the light."
Steve Blow concludes his column with these words: "So on this Easter day, she reminds us: Resurrection is still possible."
Now, that is a nice Easter Sunday column. Congratulations to Steve Blow.
I got the call last night that Cloyde Pinson, our Veterans Voice columnist, had died this weekend at the hospital where he underwent surgery on both of his knees. As Cloyde's friend (who called me with the news) pointed out, Cloyde had had a hectic week, getting his son's body moved to the Dallas-Ft. Worth National Cemetary--a veterans cemetary which Cloyde had worked so hard to establish. His son had been a young Marine who had died in Vietnam. Our fellow veteran and friend of Cloyde's, Bill Solemene, will publish a more fitting obituary for Cloyde tomorrow.
I can only say that his family should be proud of a man like Cloyde Pinson who volunteered so much of his time and energy helping his fellow Veterans. We were pleased that Cloyde joined us here at DallasBlog to bring news of veterans events and issues to our readers attention. We will miss you, Cloyde; and may your soul rest in peace.
A Delaware based conservative think tank has high hopes for conservative college students across the country.
The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a nonprofit think tank that seeks to give college students a better understanding of the values and institutions that sustain a free and virtuous society, recently held a “Get To Know ISI Soiree” at the University of Dallas. The soiree was a two hour event administered by Francisco Gonzalez, the Director of Membership and Campus Leadership for ISI.
The soirees are a new thing that ISI has been doing to further its purpose of increasing civic literacy among college students and of recruiting college students into its programs.
According to Francisco, civic literacy has taken a dive among college students. The decreasing number of students that “understand the roots of our nation” is becoming painfully apparent.
“Civic literacy is basically the idea that you are well grounded in the core principles of what America is,” said Francisco. “In order to know where we are headed, we must know our past. We are the accumulation of western civilization.”
In 2003, ISI initiated a study to test the civic literacy of college students in America. They hired a testing company to test freshmen and seniors at a number of colleges and universities across the country.
“When we turned 50, we launched a campaign to study civic literacy in higher education to determine what our universities are teaching and not teaching about our nation’s founding principles,” said Francisco. “These days, you can go through four years of college and not have to take a comprehensive course in history.”
Francisco said that the main emphasis of the study is on government and history. Francisco mentioned that many students take specialized courses in history, but fail to grasp the bigger picture. A student might take a course about women and feminism in American history and at the same time neglect learning about the roots of western civilization or about the meaning of the Federalist Papers.
Francisco explained that the reason for all of this is the fact that the universities are dominated by the Left.
“If you want to change a society you have to control the cultural producers of a society,” said Francisco, suggesting that the cultural producers are media and entertainment. “In order to do that, you have to change the history.” Francisco explained that the Left realizes that they have lost in politics and that they have to take over the academic institutions in order to change history.
“They’re trying to undermine our nation’s principles because they do not really believe in a lot of them,” said Francisco. “They would rather focus on the fact that our nation’s owners were slave owners and white male elites. For them, history started in the 1960s with the civil rights movement.”
“Instead they should focus on how great the U.S. constitution is,” added Francisco.
As the soiree ended, Stephen Wauck seemed impressed with Francisco’s presentation. “I like the way he stressed the connection with the liberal arts and politics today, and how the two relate,” said Wauck, a University of Dallas junior who described himself as intellectually conservative, though not politically active.
Wauck is one of a number of students that left the soiree pondering the possibility of starting a conservative publication on campus. The later part of the soiree was dominated by Francisco informing the students about the potential to start up independent conservative publications at their schools. Once a publication starts printing, explained Francisco, it could become eligible for yearly funding from a program that ISI operates through the Collegiate Network (CN).
ISI and CN have 90 of these college papers as affiliates across the country, according to Francisco. Conservative students use them as a medium to deliver viewpoints that are often not represented in the official student newspaper on campus.
“The papers really serve as a tool to fight the political correctness on campus. The papers expose political correctness to the public,” said Francisco.
Many of these papers use humor and satire to get their point across. Francisco mentioned Bucknell University’s Counterweight as an example of a paper that really stands out. The cover of one issue of the Counterweight had a mildly risqué picture of what appears to be a stripper, with “So this is what a feminist looks like?” written across the cover.
Other papers, such as Harvard’s Ichthus, have a Christian bent. According to Francisco, many papers are even run by libertarians.
Blake Vaughn, who serves as Chairman of the Dallas Baptist University College Republicans, attended the soiree and said that he plans on starting a paper at his school. “I learned so much about the history of the conservative movement. It has really lit the fire inside me to work hard for the ideas I believe in. I love how ISI will provide people with the intellectual arguments for conservatism,” said Vaughn, who describes himself as a conservative who believes in the Judeo-Christian history of our nation and that morality has its place in government.
As ISI does more of these soirees in other states, more students will start up papers. That’s what Francisco is hoping for.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting today that Egypt's Coptic Christians were attacked in four of their churches. One person was killed, and at least 12 were wounded, according to the report. A churchgoer described one of the attacks this way: "As we were entering the church, I saw a man holding two swords who shouted at us 'unbelievers, unbelievers!'" Tensions have grown between the Muslim majority and the Coptic Christian minority (who, according to the Telegraph, make up approximately 7% of the population in Egypt) as the militant Muslim Brotherhood organization gains more influence in Egypt.
These attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt right before Easter were described by the Telegraph as the worst series of incidents (involving attacks on Christians) since a "Coptic Christian nun in Alexandria" was stabbed last October.
John SharpComptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn released her analysis of the Perry/Sharp tax reform plan today, calling the plan a $10.6 billion hot check. Not surprisingly, plan author John Sharp disputed Strayhorn’s analysis, calling her criticism “goofy.”
The current and former comptrollers held back-to-back press conferences today to debate the plan.
“Any way you spin it, this plan raises taxes on Texas businesses 200 percent; falls billions and billions of dollars short of promised property tax relief; provides a perverse incentive for school districts to eat into the property tax cuts; and takes autonomy away from local school districts,” Strayhorn said.
Strayhorn said the plan would fall $1.4 billion short in the first year – a number she predicted would rise to a cummulative $10.6 billion in five years. But Sharp pointed out that his plan envisions spending a quarter of the state’s current surplus – which he defends as a conservative, safe amount – to cover that shortfall. He said the commission worked on the assumption that the shortfall would be $1.04 billion instead of $1.4 billion, but that the shortfall gave the state enough wiggle room that the $400,000 difference would not be insurmountable.
Moreover, Sharp said the $400,000 extra amounted to an about-face from Strayhorn’s previous estimates, and said the commission made its recommendations based on numbers Strayhorn had given him in March, which differed in substantial ways from the numbers she was releasing today.
“Despite the rhetoric, the numbers match as closely as can be expected,” he said.
Sharp said Strayhorn’s numbers today differed from previous estimates by both increasing the projected loss from replacing the franchise tax and decreasing the proposed benefits of the plan by assuming local taxes would increase substantially.
Strayhorn did in fact criticize the plan’s lack of a limit on local governments’ future tax increases, but Sharp pointed out that the lack of local flexibility was at the very heart of the Supreme Court’s ruling on school finance. His job, he noted, was to come up with a fair plan that would meet court muster. If the legislature wanted to put further restrictions on it, he said they could certainly do so.
Sharp made clear what he thought was the motivation behind Strayhorn’s criticism, by making comments like “I understand this is campaign season” and “I didn’t expect her to say ‘yeah, this is great, good job, Governor Perry.”
Strayhorn, in her press conference, criticized Perry for passing a tax increase and not a real tax cut, while at the same time calling for new money for the school system. She did not elaborate on how these two mutually exclusive goals could be realized.
While not addressing the Comptroller's specific numbers, Gov. Rick Perry dismissed her criticism of his tax plan with the following statement:
“Carole Strayhorn makes no secret of her belief that the failure of the legislature to enact property tax relief would benefit her politically, and she is doing everything she can to undermine legislative success. For more than two years she has refused to release her secret school finance plan. Opposition is not a plan and criticism is not a solution. The Perry-Sharp plan is continuing to gain momentum and has been endorsed by almost every major business association and chamber of commerce in Texas .”
Comptroller Carol StrayhornTexas Comptoller Strayhorn has issued an official press release today saying that Gov. Perry's tax plan will fall $1.4 billion short of funding current education spending in its first year and $10.6 billion short over five years. She condemned the governor's plan as a "200% increase" in the state's primary business tax "without adding a single penny to education funding."