Believe it or not there's a little good news about a Dallas school - the May 8 issue of Newsweek Magazine ranks the Dallas School for the Talented and Gifted as the top school in the country. Dallas School of Science and Engineering came in at number eight.
There are indications that Monday’s boycotts, which are aimed at showing the economic power of the nation’s Hispanic immigrants, may not have the impact that organizers are hoping for. The Houston Chronicle reports that many undocumented workers can’t afford to not work for a day or simply haven’t heard about the planned boycott.
The Spanish Parliament is considering a bill that will grant simians rights.
Expatica.com, an online Spain-based news source, reports that Spain’s ruling Socialist Party has launched an initiative that would grant rights to great apes. The bill would prohibit the use of great apes –mainly chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutangs, and gorillas- from being caged, used in marketing, or improperly used in research experiments. The bill is backed by the Seattle arm of the Great Ape Project, which is also proposing a “U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes” that would grant to the great apes "the right to life, the freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty and protection from torture".
Leaders from Spain’s conservative Popular Party have called the bill frivolous and the Catholic Church has questioned why such rights should be granted to apes and not to the unborn.
According to one candidate running for the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees, a commitment to the children is crucial to helping and changing the community.
DallasBlog recently interviewed Carla Ranger, who is the District Director for Educational Partnerships at the Dallas County Community College District. Ranger, who is running for the District 6 seat, is well-known for the city-wide African-American read-in that she founded in 2000.
“My main reason for running is that I care about the children and the community,” said Ranger. “I believe in service and I believe in serving the community. I’m committed to doing that. I’ve looked for opportunities that have always had that.”
According to Ranger, the successful future of the community is dependent on the successful future of children. Ranger said that some of her main concerns were the dropout rate and the reading level.
“We lose the equivalent of one high school every year,” said Ranger. “I think that we have to work on and focus on dropout prevention.” Ranger emphasized that lowering the dropout rate by focusing on children at a young age was crucial. “Really we should start in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, instilling in children the need and desire to perform excellently in school,” said Ranger. “Children won’t achieve if they’re not in school.”
Ranger explained that she was particularly concerned with the reading level of African-American males. “I’m very concerned with what’s happening to the African-American males,” said Ranger. “There are studies today and there are studies ten years ago that show the same thing. In reading, African American males are 10 points behind African- American females. We’ve got to do something about that.”
Ranger also cited a study of 20-year old African-American males that dropped out. According to Ranger, 62 percent don’t have a job, are looking for jobs, or are incarcerated. “We’ve got to do something about that if we value our community and value our children and care about how their future is affected by whether or not they are staying in school,” added Ranger. “We are all affected by that. Each one of us taking a little bit of a commitment will be helpful.”
Ranger also emphasized the need to develop educational partnerships with the community. She said that educational partnerships would be a great way to build trust with the community and that the school board should consistently speak to various entities in the community, including parents, businesses, churches, and neighborhood organizations.
“I believe that the more we can develop and nurture those coalitions and those collaborations, the more all stakeholders will take responsibility for what’s happening in our public school systems,” said Ranger.
On the issue of principal incentives based on student performance, Ranger said that she supported having some type of a principal appraisal system. She suggested that she would not be in favor of pay-for-performance based on what she knew about it at this time.
Wikipedia.com, a free online encyclopedia, has become plagued by an increasing number of alterations intended to deface and malign the biographical entries of politicians and political candidates. Breitbart.com reports that a number of campaign workers and Capitol Hill staffers have been able to make the changes because the Wikipedia allows people to add and edit entries on the site. Some of the changes have been intended to portray political opponents negatively; others have been intended to portray politicians positively.
According to Breitbart.com, some of the alterations include:
-The altering of Senator Robert Byrd’s age from 88 to 180.
-The disappearance of Tom Delay’s name from the entries of officials with ties to the Texas politician.
-The editing of an entry for former Kennedy administration aide John Seigenthaler Sr. The entry was altered to state that Seigenthaler was involved in the assassination of JFK and Robert Kennedy.
-Numerous alterations of the entry for President George W. Bush.
Since the Seigenthaler alteration, Wikipedia has adopted stricter controls which limit access to frequently altered entries.
The Vatican is continuing its offensive against “The Da Vinci Code”, with the latest denunciation of the book coming from a top official in the Vatican’s doctrinal office.
Reuters reports that Archbishop Angelo Amato has called on Christians to boycott the film that is based on the best-seller written by Dan Brown. Amato said that the book is “stridently anti-Christian .. full of calumnies, offences and historical and theological errors regarding Jesus, the Gospels and the Church." Addressing a conference of Catholics, Amato said that the book has been so successful because of "the extreme cultural poverty on the part of a good number of the Christian faithful".
Amato said that “The Da Vinci Code”, which is based on the belief that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children, was based on lies and full of “gratuitous defamation”.
(Full disclosure: I work for Haynes and Boone in media relations, so many will consider this self-serving. However, as a 30-year journalist who covered some high-profile justice-gone-awry cases for the Dallas Times Herald, DMN and Louisville C-J, I consider this one of the worst railroadings of two innocent men ever foisted on the court system. All the documents and press coverage are available at http://www.InnocentInTexas.com. Read them and weep for two guys who have lost ten years of their life to shoddy Texas Justice.)
The Houston Chronicle's Mark Babineck details how the state is finally owning up to severe problems with the conviction of two Mexican immigrants for a 1996 Panhandle murder.
Attorneys point to incompetence and lies, saying 1 of 2 convicted didn't see a fair process
By MARK BABINECK Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle
One of two Mexican men convicted in the 1996 murder of a West Texas convenience store clerk deserves a new trial because of a lying Texas Ranger, a prosecutor who ignored the lie and the failure of defense attorneys to properly investigate, state attorneys said Thursday.
In a "findings of fact" jointly filed by the Texas Attorney General's Office, the Lubbock County District Attorney and pro bono appeals attorneys at the Haynes and Boone law firm, all agreed that Alberto Sifuentes did not get a fair trial.
"That the state of Texas and the Lubbock County District Attorney's Office would recommend findings to the court that would result in a new trial is enormous," appellate attorney Barry McNeil said.
Sifuentes and Jesus Ramirez were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison in the robbery-slaying of Littlefield clerk Evangelina Cruz that netted $297.