Category Archives: News

If You Can Read This…

This must be some kind of a record.  Two posts where I reprint something out of what is fondly (and sometimes not so fondly) referred to as The Paris Snooze in a very short amount of time.  A friend and former teacher sent this letter to the editor and I think it bears repeating and sharing.

Frances – YOU ROCK!

Letters to the Editor
September 17, 2009
“Every time you walk through that classroom door, make it your mission to get a good education. Don’t do it just because your parents, or even the President, tells you. Do it for yourselves. Do it for your future. And while you’re at it, help a little brother or sister to learn, or maybe even Mom or Dad. Let me know how you’re doing. Write me a letter — and I’m serious about this one — write me a letter about ways you can help us achieve our goals. I think you know the address.”

Words from a president to schoolchildren across America, meant to inspire learning, meant to encourage children to stay in school and complete their education. But if I understood The Paris News columnist Charles Melton correctly, certainly not words that any president should ever utter at any time.

The interesting thing about the above quote? It is from a speech given on Oct.1, 1991, by then-president George H.W. Bush to students at Alice Deal Junior High School in the District of Columbia, and broadcast live to schools across the nation by CNN, PBS, and the NBC Radio Network.

Or, what about this? — “We’re entering one of the most exciting times in history, a time of unlimited possibilities, bounded only by the size of your imagination, the depth of your heart, and the character of your courage. More than two centuries of American history — the contributions of the millions of people who have come before us have been given to us as our birthright. All we can do to earn what we’ve received is to dream large dreams, to live lives of kindness, and to keep faith with the unfinished vision of the greatness and wonder of America.”

That’s from a speech given by Ronald Reagan on Nov. 14, 1988, to a group of schoolchildren in the White House, also broadcast live to schools across the country on C-SPAN and the Instructional Television Network.

Apparently, as does President Obama, our previous presidents have seen the value in speaking directly to students. After all, what better way to promote the value of education, of patriotism, of setting high expectations for oneself and one’s community, than by speaking directly to the part of our citizenry who will be responsible for our country in years to come? Students who are at risk of dropping out of school, of not taking their education seriously, or simply need some sort of encouragement might well be inspired by the words of a president, whether those words come from Reagan, Bush or Obama.

Indeed, a terribly sad, defeatist philosophy was expressed by Mr. Melton in his opinion column: “The children who do not stay in school and earn the free education offered by local districts do so because that is their choice. Most of the drop outs have been raised through the welfare system and feel that the government is going to provide for them anyway, regardless of education.” Wow.

Thankfully, here in Lamar County and across the whole span of our nation, parents, teachers, community leaders — and even the President of the United States — refuse to give in to such a defeatist attitude. Hopeful, caring, committed people believe that all children are capable of learning, that all children are capable of rising above their circumstances, that all children — regardless of their socio-economic status, their race, or their religion — need to be encouraged by adults who have their very best interests at heart.

“This isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.”

That’s a quote from Barack Obama’s speech of Sept. 8, 2009. And I think that’s a message that even Fox News ought to be able to get behind.

Frances Reed


Thinking About Change?

I always like hearing or reading what Lawrence Lessig has to say. I don’t always completely agree with him but I admire his presentation technique and he always makes me think.

Watch for this quote “they will purchase the voice of the people, and make them pay the price.”

I was unable to embed it so I hope you will click on the link and watch – it is a little bit over 12 minutes long.

Beyond My Comprehension

I’m ashamed to have been complaining about Starbucks closing – how sad is my little world?
Story in the BBC today:

Nine face stoning death in Iran

At least eight women and one man are reported to have been sentenced to death by stoning in Iran.

The group, convicted of adultery and sex offences, could be executed at any time, lawyers defending them say.

The lawyers have called on the head of Iran’s judiciary to prevent the sentences from being carried out.

The last officially reported stoning in Iran last year drew strong criticism from human rights groups and the European Union.

The eight women sentenced, whose ages range from 27 to 43, had convictions including prostitution, incest and adultery, Reuters news agency reported.The man, a 50-year-old music teacher, was convicted of illegal sex with a student, reports said. Moratorium imposed Under Iran’s Islamic law, stoning to death is the punishment for the crime of adultery.In 2002 Iranian judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi imposed a moratorium on stoning, but at least three people are reported to have been executed by stoning since then.

Shadi Sadr from the Volunteer Lawyers’ Network, which is representing the women, said: “We are very worried as there are at least eight women and one man with a definitive verdict which can be carried out any moment.

Our specific… demand is to have the stoning sentence stopped by Ayatollah Shahroudi since the defendants are liable to be stoned at any moment
Lawyer Mariam Kian-Arsi
“There are no guarantees that the punishments will be halted or commuted.”She called on the international community to back their efforts, adding: “We are in close touch with human rights organisations and many of them have supported our campaign.”Fellow defence lawyer Mariam Kian-Arsi said: “Our specific and clear demand is to have the stoning sentence stopped by Ayatollah Shahroudi since the defendants are liable to be stoned at any moment.” Women ‘poorly represented’ In theory the penalty of stoning to death applies to both men and women.

But the lawyers say that in practice, many more women than men receive the sentence because they are less well educated and often poorly represented in court.

Human rights group Amnesty International earlier this year called on Iran to abolish “this grotesque punishment” and said many facing execution by stoning were sentenced after unfair trials.

Under Iran’s strict penal code, men convicted of adultery should be buried up to their waists and women up to their chests for stoning. The stones used should not be large enough to kill the person immediately.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/07/20 14:20:18 GMT
I tried to imagine myself as the person about to be stoned – what it would be like to be buried to your shoulders, knowing what would happen next.  I tried to imagine what it would be like to be the man involved who got away free – is he hiding?  Does he feel guilty?  Relieved?

What would it be like to be the parent of the young woman that was about to be stoned, or the friend? What would go through the mind of the person or persons that make the decision to go through with this as a punishment?

Who am I that picks up stones and waits for the last shovelful of dirt to be in place.   Do I know the person I am going to use as a target?  What are the sounds?  Does the person cry out?  Where does this happen?  Is there a regular “stoning” place in the village?

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

According to several sources I read including Wikipedia, four eye-witnesses would need to be produced to prove adultery.  They have to be men and they have to be Muslim.  If four eye-witnesses could be produced, how could rape have happened in the first place?
Who do they find to throw the stones?

I could say something about how we throw metaphorical stones at each other every day.  That idea doesn’t mean much when I picture the real thing.