To my concern I have noticed a rapidly growing trend in our high schools across the country. The presence of military recruiters. I find it frightening and ridiculous that recruiters be at Brainerd High School three times a week, accompanied by their flashy, eye-catching bus, befriending the kids, handing out freebies and false information. Kids are enticed with promises of an education paid for, among other things. But the reality is the amounts typically received aren't even close to the costs of tuition. Many veterans receive little or nothing at all.
Equally frightening is the fact that students' private information has been made available by law to recruiters (by the No Child Left Behind Act) without permission, or even notification. There is an opt-out provision in the act but few people know about it. (Go to militaryfreezone.org to get the opt-out form).
Please contact your congressmen and tell them to fix the No Child Left Behind Act. Please also share your concern with them about recruiters spending so much time at our schools. They should be in the career centers, if in our schools at all.
Pre-marital sex is dangerous
In response to the April 13 Open Forum, "Too Much Over-Simplification". Senator Henry Waxman's report does not prove teens engage in riskier sex acts when they are taught abstinence-only. Read the report at: http://www.democrats.reform.house.gov/Documents/20041201102153-50247.pdf.
In fact, most comprehensive sex education programs he supports, contain discussions of anal and oral sex and encourage teens to practice mutual masturbation. He also claims that "abstinence-only education does not decrease teen pregnancy." In the Journal of Adolescent Health, August 2004, a 53 percent decline in pregnancy rates for 15-17 year olds was due to decreased sexual activity, which was larger than the decline attributed to contraceptive use.
As for the sited Dr. Kirby study, he states, "Very little rigorous evaluation of abstinence-only programs has been completed; in fact, only three studies met the criteria for this review." The writer wants people to think these three limited studies are the norm.
Current sex education is not working and is not healthy for teens. Let's consider the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, Vol. 27, October 2004 where a correlation between teen sex and an increase in suicidal attempts has been noted. The researchers of the study advise that all teen girls engaged in sexual activity be screened for mental health issues. How about contracting the most common STD, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). According to the American Cancer Society, 2002, "Condoms cannot protect against infection with HPV," and "Hepatitis B and C and HPV can cause cervical cancer." The CDC reports that the majority of sexually active women have been infected with one or more types of genital HPV.
So why do people fight the abstinence-only idea? Do they think teen sex is OK? Teens can't be protected or helped with misinformation. The truth is that premarital sex is dangerous, period.
How would the DFL pay for plan?
It is an interesting world that Senate Democrats live in.
Recently, they announced that their budget plan would increase state spending by $1 billion. There was one minor problem with the Senate DFL plan however: they have absolutely no idea how they want to pay for it. In fact, the Senate majority leader even chastised reporters for asking how the money would be raised.
Funny, but where I come from if you want to buy something, you actually have to have the cash in hand to pay for it.
This Senate idea is irresponsible legislating at its finest. It is the equivalent of bidding on a mansion while ignoring the fact that you'll need to make a down payment. But then again, that is business as usual for Senate DFLers and their spend-first, ask-questions-later mentality.
The Senate majority leader also said he wants to hear from the public about how to pay for their spending increases. He made that announcement Wednesday morning. He later added that the spending bill would be passed two days later. Sounds like they really value your opinion, doesn't it?
Plain and simple, the Senate DFL spending "plan" is a sham. Senate leadership knows it has to raise your taxes to pay for this proposal, yet it doesn't have the guts to say it publicly. They hope you'll ignore the financial headaches their plan causes and embrace their new and improved spending habits.
After all, who really cares about minor details -- like your money?
Rep. Greg Blaine
No easy fixes for Social Security
Ever wonder why the Social Security trustees were so quick to jump on Bush's privatization bandwagon rather than look at fixes that wouldn't destroy the whole system? Perhaps the fact that they were all appointed by the president has something to do with it. Four of the six Social Security trustees are members of the president's administration, who are appointed because of their position in the federal government. They are: John Snow, treasury secretary; Elaine Chao, labor secretary; Mike Leavitt, secretary of health and human services; and Jo Anne B. Barnhart, commissioner of Social Security. In addition, there are two outside trustees appointed by the president: economists John Palmer and Thomas R. Saving.
There are no easy fixes for Social Security's problems. Either benefits have to be cut or taxes raised, or possibly a combination of the two. Adding another two trillion dollars or more to the national debt by following the president's privatization scheme doesn't seem to make sense when there are other less painful and certainly less expensive options available. With some minor changes to the program (i.e. lifting the cap on taxable wages) Social Security would be fully funded past 2075, even under the pessimistic growth scenario of the Social Security Trustees.
The problems with Social Security are not new and they do not constitute an imminent crisis. Unless our elected representatives face up to their responsibilities however, the system will be in crisis in another 35 years or so. It's time for them to make the minor changes needed to keep the system solvent and then start working on Medicare, the program that really is in crisis.
By the way, does it seem smart to throw out the trustees and install new ones every time we get a new president?
Problems with slim majorities
The College of Cardinals has recognized for a long time that agreement of two-thirds assures authority and widespread support for their choice of Pope.
It is only common sense that approval of judges by two-thirds of the Senate is very important to continued trust in the American judicial system.
Cardinals and Senators come and go. Through time the composition of the College and the Senate swings "left" or "right".
It is by a strong voice for a minority that decision making groups can guarantee trust in the outcome of their endeavors.
Winner-take-all narrow majorities do not build community. A house divided is fragile. American society needs glue, not a wedge.
Certainly there are ample potential judges who merit the confidence of two thirds of both the Senate and the citizenry!
Senate DFL budget plan is phony
Minnesota DFL senate leaders recently announced a budget plan that calls for $1 billion in new state spending but no way to pay for it. When asked what taxes he would raise to pay for the new spending, DFL Majority Leader Dean Johnson said his "lips were sealed" because tax plans were still being debated among members of his own caucus.
In justifying the proposed unknown tax increases, Sen. Johnson said that Minnesotans want people in the Legislature who will make the difficult decisions so they will be able to invest in their future. Somehow, spending $1 billion you don't have relying on taxes increases you won't talk about doesn't sound like a difficult decision; it sounds rather careless.
Keep in mind, the Minnesota House and Gov. Tim Pawlenty have already put forward a $29.6 billion budget proposal that increases K-12 funding by more than $500 million, all without calling for new state taxes. Did you know that taxes to the state are projected to grow by 8 percent during the next two years? State income tax collections alone are expected to grow by 13 percent. How much more does Sen. Johnson want?
Gov. Pawlenty and Republican lawmakers have already made the difficult decisions -- in 2003 -- balancing the state budget in light of a $4.5 billion deficit. They paid a political price, losing seats in the Minnesota House. But by doing so, by curbing state spending without raising state taxes, they positioned the economy for a rebound, and the Minnesota economy is growing. Businesses are investing and jobs are being created.
Spending money you don't have is poor fiscal management. Increasing "secret" taxes just as the economy is rebounding is terrible economics.
Rep. Paul Gazelka
How faith in America is defined
There is a story about Jesus chasing the moneylenders out of the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13). Jesus felt that money lending (with interest) was immoral and he was offended that it was being done in the house of God. Jesus was a pacifist. Some people justify war because Jesus got mad and tossed coins on the floor. Getting mad and tossing coins on the floor is not the same as using borrowed money to produce great weapons of war and then using them against innocent people.
What would Jesus think of his followers today? Would he approve of the "temple of faith" that exists in America today?
Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." Jerry Falwell wrote a WorldNet Daily commentary on January 31, 2004, entitled "God is Pro-War." He and others like him have made the 'peacemaker' an enemy in our nation.
Jesus said "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has appointed me to preach the gospel to the poor." On Dec. 13, 2004, Pat Robertson on the 700 Club preached the virtues of kicking mothers off welfare because he said it encouraged the recipients to be promiscuous. Welfare recipients have no more children than other families not on welfare.
Jesus said, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." Rev. Fred Phelps has a Web site "Godhatesfags.com" where he spouts vile, gay-hating rhetoric. He also has picketed funerals for gay people.
Most observers must concede that these famous religious men have had a significant influence on how faith in America is defined today. I pray for the day when we gather together, get mad, and toss the coins on the ground in order to give the faith of Jesus its intended definition.
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