Archives for News

Laying groundwork for Syria strike

The Obama administration is laying the groundwork for potential military action in Syria in the coming days, with intelligence agencies readying additional evidence about last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack and high-ranking U.S. officials declaring there was “no doubt” that Bashar Assad‘s government was to blame. Administration officials also said Assad’s actions posed a direct threat to U.S. national security, providing President Barack Obama with a potential legal justification for launching a strike without authorization from the United Nations or Congress. However, officials did not detail how the U.S. was directly threatened by an attack contained within Syria’s borders. Nor
Read More

Obama had a dream too

President Barack Obama won’t need to mention race — a subject he doesn’t talk a lot about in public — when he stands at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of the March on Washington. His presence at the commemorative ceremony Wednesday will embody the fulfilled dreams of the hundreds of thousands who rallied there 50 years ago for racial equality — and will personify the continued struggle for that elusive goal. When he became president, Obama blasted through a heavy barrier that many before him had only pushed against. But his presidency has been marred by racist backlash and
Read More

Latinos inspired by 1963 march

As thousands of marchers made their way to the nation’s capital in August 1963 for what was officially billed as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Maria Varela stayed put in the Deep South with no plans to participate. Many of her fellow activists in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee felt the march was largely symbolic and would do little to change things, Varela said. She continued her work in Alabama, and eventually moved on to Mississippi. “A lot of us in SNCC did not support the march at the time,” said Varela, 73, who now lives in
Read More

Too many children left behind

Millions of at-risk students could fall through the cracks as the Education Department gives states permission to ignore parts of No Child Left Behind, according to a study education advocates released Tuesday. The Education Department has been giving states waivers from the education law’s requirements, including those to collect and publish data about students from poor families, students whose native language is not English, those with learning disabilities and minority students. The resulting patchwork of rules — from Miami to Seattle — has given states more freedom to implement plans to boost education but has allowed almost 2,300 schools to
Read More

Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia with the goal of better preparing the nation’s students for college or a job. Despite their widespread adoption, many parents don’t know what the standards are or whether their state has adopted them, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. The new standards establish benchmarks for reading and math, replacing education goals that varied widely from state to state. Although the federal government was not involved in creating them, it has encouraged the state-led project. Supporters say the standards will
Read More

Not the world Obama expected

Nearly five years into his presidency, Barack Obama confronts a world far different from what he envisioned when he first took office. U.S. influence is declining in the Middle East as violence and instability rock Arab countries. An ambitious attempt to reset U.S. relations with Russia faltered and failed. Even in Obama-friendly Europe, there’s deep skepticism about Washington’s government surveillance programs. In some cases, the current climate has been driven by factors outside the White House’s control. But missteps by the president also are to blame, say foreign policy analysts, including some who worked for the Obama administration. Among them:
Read More

A connection in history

When 250,000 marchers converged on Washington in August 1963, the issues were jobs and freedom. Now, as the crowds come together to mark the 50th anniversary of that seminal event in the civil rights movement, those issues have been joined by others, including one, immigration reform, that wasn’t nearly on the political radar then like it is today. “They were fighting for equality, and that’s exactly what we’re fighting for,” said Mikhel Crichlow, 28, a native of Trinidad and Tobago now living in Brooklyn. Crichlow said he was going to Washington for the commemoration. The push for comprehensive immigration reform
Read More

For youth, a chance to lead

Mary-Pat Hector of Atlanta was operating much like a 1960s civil rights activist as she laid plans for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. She was constantly on the phone as she confirmed event details, tweaked the draft of the speech she gave at Saturday’s rally at the Lincoln Memorial and prepared for a presentation. Mary-Pat is 15 years old. Just as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led the Montgomery Bus Boycott at age 26, and Rep. John Lewis helped to lead freedom rides at 23, young Americans like Mary-Pat are not letting age get in the
Read More

Remembering ‘I have a dream’

Tens of thousands of people marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and down the National Mall on Saturday, commemorating the 50th anniversary of King’s famous speech and pledging that his dream includes equality for gays, Latinos, the poor and the disabled. The event was an homage to a generation of activists that endured fire hoses, police abuse and indignities to demand equality for African Americans. But there was a strong theme of unfinished business. “This is not the time for nostalgic commemoration,” said Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the slain civil rights leader. “Nor is
Read More

More armed guards at schools

In the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Pembroke Pines, students returning to school this year are being greeted not only by their teachers and principal. They’re also meeting the armed school resource officer who will be stationed permanently on campus. Crime in this middle-class community has been on a steady decline, but city officials decided to place a school police officer at every elementary, middle and high school after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., last year. “It is a relief to have them here,” Lakeside Elementary School Principal Linda Pazos said
Read More