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Financial aid for college should recognize financial responsibility

29 Mar 2010

Hannah is graduating from high school in June.  I started figuring out the ins and outs of financial aid a few months ago, but only now am getting a clearer picture of it all.

In the past few days I have done some more research.  I have saved and commented on several web pages related to financial aid, FAFSA, Federal Methodology (FM) vs. Institutional Methodology (IM), etc.  You can see them here:

http://www.diigo.com/user/jmac62/fafsa

Anyway, as I was wondering and researching (and grumbling) about the way the aid is figured and amount of aid offered, I came away feeling that the formulas, while doing a decent job of trying to assess need, do not recognize or reward financial responsibility.  Read more…

Israeli press on Netanyahu’s visit with Obama

26 Mar 2010

BBC – See Also: Media View: US-Israel spat

Interesting comments in a centrist Israeli newspaper.

tags: news, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem, peace

  • In another centrist Hebrew daily, Maariv, Ben Kaspit said it was decision time for Mr Netanyahu:

    “What is clear is this, that the Americans are determined. They mean what they say. They will not allow Netanyahu to continue to wink in all directions. It is not only [East] Jerusalem, Bibi, it is all the territories. Not only Netanyahu has reached his moment of truth, the ‘T’ junction we have been avoiding for more than 40 years – the whole of Israel stands there. America is leaving us and is in fact becoming Europe. From now, we are all alone. The whole world talks about a Palestinian state in an area similar to 1967. Obama wants to know whether Netanyahu is there – in explicit words, in writing… A simple question demanding a simple answer.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Stupak: From Prolife Groups’ Hero to Villain ‘In a Nanosecond’

25 Mar 2010

Stupak: From Prolife Groups’ Hero to Villain ‘In a Nanosecond’ | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction – see excerpts from this article (bulleted) below my comments

I find the response of conservative, pro-life groups (esp. Christian ones) to this very sad. While they may disagree with what Stupak and others did, to call him and treat him as a “villain” and a “traitor” is too much. He DID work against abortion, but ended up agreeing to something he understood was not perfect, but in some way, did something for two causes he believed in – reducing / limiting abortion and providing universal health care.

tags: news, culture wars, politics, abortion, health care

  • Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association joined the chorus of advocacy groups who blamed Stupak for the “government takeover of health care.”

    “[Stupak] went from being a pro-life hero to whom the unborn owed an un-repayable debt to a permanent, lifelong pro-abortion traitor in a nanosecond,” said Fischer. “Confirmation that this is a completely meaningless gesture on the president’s part is the deafening silence you are hearing from pro-abortion activists and organizations.”

    Where Fischer hears silence, others hear screams. Catholics for Choice and Planned Parenthood agreed with Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who said Obama’s deal with Stupak was “a betrayal of millions of women across this country and of his campaign promises.”

  • Not all evangelical or pro-life groups view Stupak and other pro-life Democrats with disdain. For Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, and Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action, the legislation is doubly-pro-life by not funding abortion while expanding health care.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Netanyahu wants power not peace

25 Mar 2010

BBC News – Israel’s PM talks of ‘golden’ solution to row with US – see excerpts from this article (bulleted) below my comments

So is Netanyahu’s “golden way” to repeat the insult of approving new building WHILE meeting with those who are asking them to stop (not to mention his provocative words in his recent speech to AIPAC)? Netanyahu is not stupid, I believe he knows exactly what he is doing. This is all very calculated. Netanyahu clearly does not want peace, he only wants power. And he doesn’t care if the US “likes” him. Thus he will do what it takes to kill any peace process, including ticking off the American administration – as long as the Americans keep on repeating the “best friends forever” mantra, and, more importantly, giving them $3 BILLION of military aid EACH year. While it is good, I guess, that Obama did not give Netanyahu the usual photo ops and big state welcome, the only way Netanyahu will listen is if the flow of F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters stops.
tags: news, Israel, Palestine, settlements, Jerusalem

  • The Palestinians pulled out of moves towards talks two weeks ago, after Israel unveiled plans to build 1,600 homes in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo.

    The project was approved during a visit by US Vice-President Joe Biden – a move which Washington initially branded an insult.

  • “We think we have found a golden way that would allow the Americans to move the peace process forward while preserving our national interests,” Mr Netanyahu said.
  • Minutes before Mr Netanyahu’s fence-mending visit to the White House on Tuesday, it emerged the Jerusalem municipal government had approved another development.

    Twenty apartments are to be built for Jewish settlers on the site of an old hotel in the predominantly Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

  • He reiterated the American position that there was an “unbreakable bond” between the US and the Israeli people.
  • There was no press conference, no lavish welcome, and the White House did not even release a picture of the meeting.

    It all signals that the US is playing tough, making clear it is upset with the Israeli government, says our correspondent.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Israelis on Netanyahu and new housing plans

25 Mar 2010

BBC News – Palestinians denounce new East Jerusalem homes plan – see excerpts from this article (bulleted) below my comments

Interesting to see what Israelis are saying about Netanyahu and the recent plans for more Jewish homes in East Jerusalem.

tags: news, Israel, Palestine, settlements, Jerusalem

  • Minutes before Mr Netanyahu’s fence-mending visit to the White House on Tuesday, it emerged the Jerusalem municipal government had approved the building of 20 new apartments.
  • The development is planned for the site of an old hotel in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah area, a flashpoint neighbourhood.
  • But Israeli MP Eitan Cabel – a member of the Labor Party, which sits in the governing coalition – accused Mr Netanyahu of a fresh insult to the US.

    “Netanyahu decided to spit into Obama’s eye, this time from up close,” Mr Cabel was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying. “He and his pyromaniac ministers insist on setting the Middle East ablaze.”

    The Israeli anti-settlement watchdog, Peace Now, which discovered the latest building plan, said it could prove “devastating” for hopes of resuming peace talks, stalled for more than a year.

    But an Israeli Likud MP, MK Yariv Levin, was quoted as saying the building approval was the “translation of Netanyahu’s words into deeds”.

    It was an apparent reference to Mr Netanyahu’s speech on Monday to an influential pro-Israeli lobby group in Washington, when he reasserted Israel’s “right to build” in Jerusalem.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Technology Tools for Teaching

25 Mar 2010

Last April I was invited to give a workshop on teaching and technology by the Center for Teaching and Learning at AUB.  In the workshop I reviewed important principles of technology use, most importantly, making sure that technology is serving the teaching and learning – no the other way round.  After this, I presented several tech tools I use in / with my students to accomplish various educational objectives (Technology Tools for Teaching chart).

Families fight ‘racist’ Israeli citizenship law

25 Mar 2010

BBC News – Families fight ‘racist’ Israeli citizenship law – see excerpts from this article (bulleted) below my comments

I find Danny Dannon’s statement the most telling example of how many Israelis want to have their cake and eat it too. He says, “I don’t think it’s a racist law. But we have to make sure Israel stays a Jewish democratic country.” Why does he say “But”? If it is not a racist law, why do you have to defend it with a “but..”? It would make sense to say, “Yes, it is a racist law. BUT we have to make sure Israel stays a Jewish country.”

The Israelis, in my opinion, have to decide – either, using Jimmy Carter’s word, Apartheid (and, thus, keeping power and land) OR equal human rights and democracy (and, necessarily, sharing power and land). Yes, making peace is scary and must be done carefully. But there will be no peace or progress as long as Danon and many other Israelis maintain the delusion that they can somehow be a first-world, democratic, human-rights respecting country while at the same time discriminating against a fifth of their own citizens (Israeli Arabs) and maintaining a 40+ year oppressive occupation over almost 4 million other Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. They have to choose, as Thomas Friedman put it over 20 years ago (in From Beirut to Jerusalem), between their soul and (all) “their” land. It is encouraging to see Jewish Israelis against this citizenship law – fighting for the soul of their country.

tags: Israel, Palestine, human rights, equal rights, discrimination, news

  • Adnan, who is three, and one-year-old Yosra squabble over their toys.

    Born and raised in Israel, they are too young to understand that their parents both consider themselves Palestinian, but their father Taiseer is an Israeli citizen while their mother is from the occupied West Bank.

    And that means, under the current law, Mrs Khatib cannot apply for citizenship.

    Life and death

    The law is at the centre of a long legal battle in Israel’s Supreme Court, with the latest hearing last week.

    For the Israeli government, it’s about life and death – the prevention of lethal attacks and the survival of the only majority Jewish state in a post-Holocaust world.

    For the law’s critics, who include Jewish Israelis as well as Israeli Arabs, it’s a struggle to use Israel’s self-proclaimed standards of democracy and equal rights to overturn what they see as racist legislation.

  • In 2007, it was expanded to apply to citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

    In contrast, other non-Jews who marry Jewish Israelis can apply for citizenship through a five-year process, subject to individual security checks.

    Since the founding of Israel in the wake of the Holocaust, any Jew has been able to move to Israel and claim citizenship.

  • The law’s critics argue that it contradicts Israel’s self-declared commitment to equal rights for all its citizens.

    Sowsan Zaher, a lawyer for the Israel-Arab rights organisation Adalah – one of several that have petitioned the Supreme Court against the law – says the principle behind it is “very, very dangerous”.

    “It stereotypes every person just because he belongs to a national and ethnic group and discriminates against him because of that,” she says.

  • Another defender of the law, Danny Danon, a member of the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, for the governing Likud party, says security trumps other concerns.

    “The well-being of Israelis comes before any other rights,” he says.

    But for him there is another issue at stake too – the demographic make-up of the population of Israel.

    “I don’t think it’s a racist law. But we have to make sure Israel stays a Jewish democratic country.”

  • The Khatib family live in the mixed city of Acre in northern Israel. Mr Khatib teaches both Jewish and Arab students at a local college.

    “I recognise the state of Israel, but does the state of Israel recognise me?” asks Mr Khatib.

    The family could leave Israel, but are strongly opposed to doing so.

    “I’m not waking up every day thinking about how to destroy this state, but they are waking up every day thinking about how to kick me out of my place, of the place of my great, great, great, grandfather – before they came here to this land,” he says.

  • About 1.2m, a fifth of Israel’s population, are Israeli Arabs
    They are citizens of Israel, but face widely documented discrimination
    Former PM Ehud Olmert said there was “no doubt” Israeli Arabs had faced discrimination for “many years”
    Israeli Arabs own 3.5% of Israel’s land, get 3-5% of government spending and have higher poverty levels than Jewish Israelis*
    There are 13 Israeli Arabs in the 120-seat Knesset, 10 representing [primarily] Arab parties

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Kingdom of Heaven – Ridley Scott

20 Mar 2010

Whitewashing The Kingdom of Heaven Doesn’t Help

Review of The Kingdom of Heaven – Director’s Cut, 2006 – produced and directed by Ridley Scott; written by William Monahan [I originally wrote this review in October, 2009.]

Last weekend I watched The Kingdom of Heaven which portrays events in and around Jerusalem in the years leading up to the Third Crusade (1180’s).  I must say I liked it – as much as one can like a film with beheadings and much splattered blood.  Read more…

Hosseini, Khaled – A Thousand Splendid Suns

20 Mar 2010

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2007) [I read the book in late 2009.]

Like The Kite Runner, Hosseini’s first book, this novel is set in Afghanistan.  However, this story runs from the 1960’s to early 2000’s, following the lives of two women, Miriam and Laila, who both end up becoming wives of Rasheed, a very abusive husband.  The focus of the book is the role and condition of women in Afghanistan during this period.  It is a well-written, engaging story – at times powerfully sad, but also celebrating the strength, resilience and perseverance of Miriam and Laila – and the loyal, sacrificing friendship that develops between them.

[Wikipedia currently has a decent plot summary in their article for the book.]

Hosseini, Khaled – The Kite Runner

20 Mar 2010

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003)

I actually saw the movie (2007) first (in March, 2009) with my brother, Dan, who works  in Afghanistan (doing physical therapy and community development with a small NGO).  He said that the movie and book were true to life.  I read the book in late 2009.

A sad story told in first person by Amir, an Afghan (Pashtun) boy with a wealthy father, Baba, living in Kabul prior to the Soviet invasion of 1979.  Read more…

Mortenson, Greg – Three Cups of Tea

20 Mar 2010

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (Penguin Books, 2006)  [I read the book in Feb and Mar 2010.]

The story of Greg Mortenson and his humanitarian / education work in Pakistan.

Greg Mortenson, who was raised in Tanzania by Lutheran missionary parents, tries to climb K2 (as the medical guy for a team) but does not make it – due to helping others.  On his descent he gets lost (more than once) and ends up in a mountain village in Pakistan, Korphe, that is off the typical climber paths.  He stays there and recuperates from his climb.  Haji Ali, the village leader, and his family show Greg typical eastern hospitality.  He takes time to observe village life – seeing both the beauty and the hardship.  Before leaving, he promises to return and build a school. Read more…

Keller, Timothy – The Reason for God

19 Mar 2010

Review of The Reason for God by Timothy Keller (2008, New York: Dutton)

(This is a bit long.  If you want, read the first three paragraphs and then the last two.  The middle bit is a summary of each chapter.)

In The Reason for God, Timothy Keller seeks to answer objections to Christianity (that he would describe as traditional, orthodox and conservative) as well as putting forth reasons for faith in Christianity.  Read more…

Friedman, Thomas – The World Is Flat

18 Mar 2010

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman (2006  – 1st revised and expanded edition) [not really a review – actually more just some of my notes while reading – back in Feb. 2007]

Lots of stories about globalization – economic and social aspects. Somewhat predictable comments, but stories make it an interesting read.

Similar stories to my Dell tech support story with the floppy drive several years ago – US guy (long call with no resolution) vs Indian girl (resolved efficiently in short call) Read more…

Pollock and VanReken – Third Culture Kids

17 Mar 2010

Third Culture Kids – The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. VanReken (2001, Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, Inc.)

[I did NOT read the entire book. Reviewed TOC, skimmed some sections, read some sections]

General and practical information about Third Culture Kids (TCKs), as the subtitle states, “growing up among worlds”.

Section One is a realistic review of their experiences / life / world / perceptions / characteristics / relationships – both the good and bad. The second section gives suggestions for maximizing the benefits or positive aspects of TCK’s lives. True mini-stories of TCKs and their families (usually 2-4 paragraphs) are extensively used throughout the book (every 2-3 pages – sometimes more often). These stories are well chosen to illustrate the points being made.

Appendix A contains the results of a diachronic study of TCKs experiences – based on survey responses from adults (aged 22 – 75 years) who were TCKs.

Elmer, Duane – Cross-Cultural Connections

17 Mar 2010

Review of Cross-Cultural Connections by Duane Elmer

Good introductory book to prepare people for a short or long term cross-cultural experience. It seems to me a bit slow getting started, but that might just be me. He does try to start where people are in (Christian) American culture. I would recommend it as a preparation book. It has self-evaluation activities and questions at the end of each chapter and could be used with a group planning on a short-term trip.

He covers the basics of cultural differences and general skills for cross-cultural adjustment and communication. He briefly covers several general cultural world-view differences (mostly east-west contrasts) such as time / event; individualism / collectivism; etc. He finishes up briefly describing re-entry to one’s own culture.

Dawkins, Richard – The God Delusion

15 Mar 2010

Review of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2006) [I read the book and wrote this review in 2007.]

Dawkins, an evangelical atheist, looks for and finds “evil”, stupidity, gullibility, etc. in religion.  Many of his objections are valid, if one-sided and interpreted in the worst possible light.

He, unlike many scientists, thinks that science CAN provide very good evidence about the non-existence of God.  Science is THE only way to determine truth.  He seems to have no place for philosophy in the sense of it critiquing the foundational assumptions of science (or anything else).  He seems to be of those who hold that naturalism somehow trumps philosophy and is not subject to its probing questions.  He does like to quote philosophers who agree with him though. Read more…