Category Archives: Obama’s America

Teachers at NM school directed to stop addressing students as ‘boys and girls’

It was just a “mistake.”

serious

From KOB 4: Teachers at Carlos Rey Elementary School are in a tough situation after their assistant principal told them to stop calling their students “boys and girls.”

It seems the school administrators decided to take the new transgender bathroom policy for Albuquerque Public Schools a step further. This appears to the first example of something that started as a bathroom issue now expanding into daily life in the classroom.

A letter sent to teachers at Carlos Rey this month titled “Gender Identity Procedural Directive” states teachers can no longer refer to their students as boys and girls starting this month, telling them to eliminate gender in their classrooms.

It incites a passionate reaction from both sides. “This is outlandish,” said Rev. Adelious D. Stith, a regular at APS board meetings. “This just makes no sense at all.”

Stith has been pleading with board members to listen to parents before allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. The district has said it will comply with a federal order on the issue, and this is the first school year with the policy in action.

Stith said the letter from an assistant principal proves the APS directive has just caused confusion in how to correctly implement it.

“She or he is now exercising what they believe,” Stith said. “It’s their spin on the directive. They are confused obviously. We can call them scientists, but we can’t call them boys and girls. This is ridiculous.”

Adrien Lawyer

Adrien Lawyer

But Adrien Lawyer with the Transgender Resource Center believes the assistant principal was actually trying to do the right thing. “What the principal was trying to say is let’s think about how we address students and all of the gendered language that we use all day every day and whether or not we really have to do that,” he said.

Lawyer said that kind of policy would have taken a lot of the daily suffering out of his childhood, growing up as a girl who knew in his heart he was a boy. “For some young people, that’s a really painful experience every day to be referred to as the wrong gender,” he said.

The district said this was a complete mistake on the assistant principal’s part and that she was immediately addressing the overreach. APS said nowhere in their transgender policy does it say to not call students boys and girls.

Sources at the school, however, tell KOB they were told to continue with that policy.

h/t Weasel Zippers

DCG

One-third of US won’t have choice between Obamacare plans in 2017

Going as planned.

obamacare

From MSN: It’s looking like a lot of people are going to have little Obamacare choice next year. One-third of the United States may have just a single insurer to pick from on Obamacare marketplaces in 2017, an analysis released Friday suggests.

Seven entire states are projected to have just one carrier in 2017: Alaska, Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming, according to research by the Avalere consultancy.

And more than half of the country, 55 percent, may end up having two or fewer insurers to choose from on those government-run exchanges, Avalere said.  “And there may be some sub-region counties where no plans are available,” a report by Avalere on its analysis found.

The findings reflect the effect of announcements this summer that three major insurers — Aetna (AET), UnitedHealth (UNH), and Humana (HUM) — will sharply reduce the number of areas where they will sell individual health plans in 2017 due to financial losses on those plans, as well as the failures of most Obamacare co-op insurance plans.

The analysis relates to the number of insurers in a given “rating region,” not the number of plans available. A single insurer can offer multiple plans at different price points, and at different levels of coverage.

The analysis, which assumes no new plans will enter the markets losing those insurers, is sobering news for many consumers, about 11.1 million of whom are now covered by plans sold on the exchanges.

The Obama administration, when asked about 2017 Obamacare insurance premiums that are on track to be significantly higher than in past years, has repeatedly said that consumers can shop around between plans for better prices. But in areas where this is no or little competition, price shopping will be less of an option.

Pinal County, Arizona, is one place that is, as of now, not expected to have an Obamacare insurer to choose from on the federal HealthCare.gov exchange next year. The county near Phoenix, which has 400,000 residents, has seen two insurers, United Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona decided to exit the area.

Avalere noted that in 2016, only 4 percent of rating regions — the geographic areas that insurance plans cover — had just one or fewer insurers offering plans. And only 33 percent of the country had two or fewer insurers.

“Depending on where consumers live, their choice of insurance plans may decrease for 2017,” said Elizabeth Carpenter, Avalere senior vice president. “Some exchange enrollees may need to choose another insurance plan in order to maintain coverage.”

Avalere President Dan Mendelson said that the decrease in competition in Obamacare plans is the result of lower-than-expected enrollment, consumers who are costing insurers a lot in health-care benefits, and “troubled” programs that were intended to reduce the risk insurers face by selling coverage on the exchanges.

Obama_laughing

“Congress and the administration can choose to stabilize these markets and re-establish competition — but only through a consensus process that brings in a brings in a broader swath of the uninsured,” Mendelson said.

DCG

Nearly 15,000 new Clinton emails gleaned in FBI probe

shocked face

Via Seattle Times: The State Department said Monday it is reviewing nearly 15,000 previously undisclosed emails recovered as part of the FBI’s now-closed investigation into the handling of sensitive information that flowed through Hillary Clinton’s private home server.

Lawyers for the department told U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg on Monday that they anticipate processing and releasing the first batch of these new emails in mid-October, raising the prospect new messages sent or received by Democratic nominee could become public just before November’s presidential election. The judge is overseeing production of the emails as part of a federal public-records lawsuit filed by the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch.

Representing the State Department, Justice Department lawyer Lisa Olson told Boasberg that officials do not yet know what portion of the emails is work-related rather than personal. Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, served as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. She has claimed that she deleted only personal emails prior to returning over 55,000 pages of her work-related messages to the State Department last year.

Hillary Clinton what difference does it make

The State Department has publicly released most of those work-related emails, although some have been withheld because they contain information considered sensitive to national security.

Republicans are pressing to keep the issue of Clinton’s email use alive after the FBI closed its investigation last month without recommending criminal charges. GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump routinely criticizes Clinton for her handling of emails containing classified information.

Olson told the judge that State earlier this month received seven disks containing “tens of thousands” of emails Clinton sent or received during her tenure as the nation’s top diplomat. The first disk, labeled by the FBI as containing non-classified emails not previously disclosed by Clinton, contains about 14,900 documents, Olson said. The second disk is labeled as emails containing classified information.

Olson told Boasberg she could not immediately say how many emails are contained on the rest of the disks or how many might be copies of emails Clinton already has provided.

Given the large volume of messages, Olson said it was “extremely ambitious” for the agency to complete its review and begin releasing the first batches of emails to Judicial Watch by Oct. 14.

Judicial Watch lawyer Lauren Burke told Boasberg that the proposed schedule is too slow and pressed for faster release of the emails from the first disk. The judge ordered the department to focus its efforts on processing the emails from the first disk and to report back to him on its progress by Sept. 22.

As part of proceedings in a separate Judicial Watch lawsuit, a federal judge on Friday ordered Clinton to answer written questions from the group about why she chose to rely on a private server located in the basement of her New York home, rather than use a government email account.

DCG

Sunday funnies!


DCG

Stop Tweeting Your #Firstsevenjobs

Why?

Because according to the Slate author, “It’s just a way to disguise your privilege.”

liberal nonsense

From Slate: August is the dullest month. Offices across the land sit half empty. It’s too hot to do anything outside. There’s nothing good on TV. (Even the Olympics, which ostensibly rescue us from indoor boredom every four Augusts, are largely boring. Dressage?) And so we denizens of the internet attempt to entertain ourselves the only way we know how: by playing stupid hashtag games on Twitter.

Last week’s was even stupider than usual. Social media users employed the hashtag #firstsevenjobs alongside straightforward, unadorned lists of their actual first seven jobs. The hashtag originated with singer-songwriter Marian Call, who told Marketplace, “I like this hashtag because it’s really individual, it’s about each person’s really tiny journey and you get to see thousands of strangers reflecting on that.”

With all due respect to Call, who is probably a wonderful musician, #firstsevenjobs is a very bad hashtag. For one thing, no one can agree on what the hashtag actually is: You’ll get hundreds of results whether you search #firstsevenjobs, #myfirstsevenjobs, #first7jobs, #myfirst7jobs, or #1st7jobs. (For some reason, #my1st7jobs didn’t really catch.) The whole point of a hashtag is that it can be used to organize disparate tweets into a single stream; that doesn’t work if no one can agree on whether numbers ought to be expressed as numerals or words. (This problem afflicts the recently trending #fav7films, too. Perhaps it’s time for Twitter to collectively adopt AP Style rules: Spell out single-digit numbers, but use numerals for numbers 10 and above.)

For another thing, #firstsevenjobs—my preferred, AP-approved rendering—encourages navel-gazing of the most boring variety. Granted, posting on social media is inherently self-indulgent, but this hashtag doesn’t even encourage people to be creative or funny in tooting their own horns. You might learn interesting factoids about celebrities by searching the hashtag—Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda started out operating the slush machine at his aunt’s store! Writer Erik Larson used to wash pig sperm out of laboratory glasses! Actress Kerry Washington worked at The Limited!—but the average Twitter user’s #firstsevenjobs tweet is unlikely to interest anyone beyond his or her mother.

But what really bothers me about #firstsevenjobs is the ideology it reflects. #Firstsevenjobs promotes the ideal, as old as America, of the self-made man who creates his own destiny through hard work. The archetypal #firstsevenjobs tweet begins with a few humble, menial jobs—babysitting, retail work, slush-machine operating—and culminates in glory. Even if the seventh job on the list isn’t anything to write home about, the tweeter’s bio will demonstrate that she has overcome adversity to attain an interesting, lucrative, or high-powered career. “What is compelling about this snapshot of career trajectories is that it, by nature, emphasizes a career as a journey and not necessarily the logical result of a blinkered, do what you love mantra,” writes Adam Chandler in a piece praising the hashtag at the Atlantic. “It also implicitly belies and discourages narratives fashioned by nepotism and privilege.”

It’s true that the hashtag discourages narratives of privilege, but that doesn’t mean those narratives aren’t true! #Firstsevenjobs obscures the extent to which the socioeconomic status we are born into shapes our career potential. In fact, it seems designed to make people feel smug about pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, even though their career success probably had more to do with luck than with hard work or determination. #Firstsevenjobs is an optimistic hashtag, but also an unrealistic one.

Social mobility in America has been stagnant for 50 years, even as the gap between rich and poor widens. A 2009 study comparing the U.S. to several Western European nations, Australia, and Canada found that “there is a stronger link between parental education and children’s economic, educational, and socio-emotional outcomes than in any other country investigated.” There are plenty of possible reasons for this—the high cost of college, the frayed social safety net, the death of unions—but the upshot is that the social caste you are born into is more relevant to where you end up than your first seven jobs. A more illustrative hashtag, in my opinion, would be #myparentsjobs, which would reveal the extent to which social status and income potential remain fixed from one generation to the next. (And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that most people’s first seven jobs were humble. The jobs that teenagers and young adults take are almost by definition unskilled jobs, whether they’re rich or poor.)

Read the rest of this diatribe here.

h/t Twitchy

DCG

No records that top Clinton aides Mills or Abedin received ethics training

shock

From Daily Mail: State Department records do not show Hillary Clinton’s top aides completing their ethics training on an annual basis as legally required.

A set of documents provided to McClatchy by the Republican National Committee that were later made available online do not show Clinton, her chief of staff Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Deputy Chief of Protocol Dennis Cheng, Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan and others having taken the required course.

The State Department says it’s possible that they did take the yearly ethics trainings and blamed sloppy record keeping for the lack of documentation.

baby laughing

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign said today that it ‘would make sense,’ though, that Clinton’s employees skipped the training ‘since Hillary was planning a criminal enterprise trading government favors for cash.’

The Republican has alleged that Clinton took advantage of her position at the State Department to institute a ‘pay for play’ scheme that rewarded major donors to her family’s charity with government favors.

Trump says he’ll introduce ethics reforms in the executive branch if he wins the White House.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement Thursday afternoon that Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, should be held accountable for her employees’ negligence. ‘The State Department’s own regulations say the responsibility for carrying out the agency’s ethics program rests with the secretary, and by all accounts, it was never a priority for Hillary Clinton,’ Priebus said.

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The GOP elections chief said, ‘The complete absence of records showing Clinton and her top aides completed annual ethics trainings required by federal law is par for the course for her tenure as secretary of state, where the rules didn’t seem to apply and pay-to-play was the name of the game. ‘Too much is at stake in this country to have our next president compromised by conflicts of interest with foreign donors and besieged by one scandal after another.’

The Clinton campaign did not provide McClatchy with a response to the allegations, and it did not immediately respond to a request from DailyMail.com. 

Several of the aides that State could not produce documents still work for Clinton on her campaign staff. Sullivan, Cheng and Abedin all have senior roles in her White House effort. Cheng and deputy assistant secretary Philippe Reines both took their new employee ethics training, McClatchy reported. The documents do not show them completing the requirement in subsequent years.

A spokeswoman for the State Department told McClatchy she could not comment on individual cases because the government is barred from sharing employee records under the Privacy Act.

The State Department official, Elizabeth Trudeau, said that she would, however, ‘caution against drawing any conclusions simply from the absence of documentation provided in response to a FOIA request.’

McClatchy says that officials indicated that State may not have kept track of the records before the training was offered online at the end of Clinton’s four-year tenure.

In one email exchange from Clinton’s final months in office that was obtained by the RNC through a Freedom of Information Act Request Abedin is informed by a State Department official that she is delinquent on the training and must take it online or through an attorney in the next two weeks.  It’s unclear from the documents State provided in response to the RNC’s federal lawsuit whether she complied.

Trump’s campaign accused Clinton of being ‘focused on personal enrichment’ instead of State Department business.  ‘The Middle East went up in flames and ISIS exploded onto the globe. Now, all the people who’ve been paying off Hillary for years are funding her campaign,’ National Policy Director Stephen Miller said.

He added, ‘Mr. Trump has proposed new ethics reforms to restore honor to our government, while Hillary Clinton is calculating how much money she can make selling the office of the Presidency for profit.’

DCG

Seattle offers classes on ‘white fragility,’ to explain roots of guilt

white guilt

From Fox News: A city-run cultural program in Seattle is offering residents classes on “white fragility” to white folks understand why they can’t seem to handle matters involving race, and tickets have sold out.

Lecturer Robin DiAngelo, who coined the term, is teaching the taxpayer-funded class for the city Office of Arts and Culture. She defines white fragility as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.”

Critics say it is just the latest attempt at spreading white guilt, following in the footsteps of concepts such as “white privilege.”

Lecturer Robin DiAngelo

Lecturer Robin DiAngelo

“By the way, DiAngelo is white,” noted Todd Herman, of MyNorthwest.com. “But she doesn’t have any bias or fragility. And we’re going to pay her a bunch of money to teach a class on white fragility!”

The Office of Arts and Culture, which has a budget of $8.3 million, is holding two 4-hour classes, Aug. 17 and Sept. 7. Tickets are $60 and both lectures are sold out. Erika Lindsay, a city spokesperson, says staffers have been working on the event, but she could not pinpoint how much taxpayers are shelling out for the program.

“A primary role of our office is to provide programs and resources to help the arts and culture sector flourish and many arts and cultural organizations see the ability to become more inclusive as a major step towards their ability to thrive,” she said.

DiAngelo, who is white, has made a career out of studying whiteness. She earned her doctorate in Multicultural Education from the University of Washington in 2004. Ten years later she became a tenured professor in whiteness studies at Westfield State University. Now she is back in Seattle working as a lecturer at the University of Washington. She’s also director of equity for Sound Generations, Seattle/King County and was recently appointed to co-design Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Anti-Racism Training program.

Seattle is not alone in spending tax dollars on educating white people about their purported fragility. Portland Community College held a series of lectures in April under the heading: “Whiteness History Month Project.”

Melinda Bullen, Diversity Resource Center coordinator at Mt. Hood Community College, lectured on “white fragility.” Bullen, who is white, told attendees, “because of their position of privilege and accustomed racial comfort, whites will often display racial arrogance by denying, debating, trivializing racism or critical thought regarding racial conflict.”

Bullen also says white people need to be much harder on themselves. “Seeing yourself as well-meaning,” she said, “removes responsibility for your actions…good intentions are one of the great hindrances to honest conversations about race.”

h/t Hot Air

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