Obama proposing updated reading and math standards

President Barack Obama is seeking a major overhaul of the U.S. education system, with a shift from an emphasis on testing to an emphasis on career preparation — a plan that he is backing up with billions in budget incentives.

The administration has already pumped $100 billion into education and is now moving to rewrite legislation that has governed the nation’s schools for nearly a decade.

Obama’s proposed $3.8 trillion budget includes $49.7 billion for education, and much of the 7.5 percent increase is focused on programs under No Child Left Behind, which could come up for reauthorization this year.

At the heart of the change is a major redesign of NCLB’s accountability measures, which have set the standard for school systems across the country for the past eight years…

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said NCLB, one of George W. Bush’s signature domestic accomplishments, demanded accountability but “does little to reward progress.”

“We want accountability reforms that factor in student growth, progress in closing achievement gaps, proficiency towards college and career-ready standards, high school graduation and college enrollment rates,” Duncan said, noting that the new approach is a “cradle-to-career agenda…”

So far, the Obama administration’s $100 billion investment in schools has supported nearly 300,000 education jobs.

In addition, the administration has launched a nationwide $4.35 billion competitive grant program known as Race to the Top that encourages states to create data systems, focus on teacher effectiveness and improve low-performing schools.

Meanwhile, we have one of the largest cities in New Mexico – Rio Rancho, the New Mexico home of Intel – preparing to reduce standards one more time because not enough children pass.

They’re confident lowering standards will pump out more kids with diplomas – as it will. Of course, they will need remedial classes before they qualify to flip burgers or hand out parking tickets.

Head of German Protestants resigns after DWI bust

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The head of Germany’s 25 million Protestants resigned on Wednesday after police stopped her for driving while under the influence of alcohol just four months after becoming the third woman to head a major Christian Church.

Known as the “pop bishop,” 51-year-old Margot Kaessmann is a regular on television talk shows and had been a controversial choice as head of Germany’s EKD, the main association of Protestant churches, because she is a divorced mother of four.

Betraying no emotion, Kaessmann told reporters she had made a grave mistake which she deeply regretted…

With immediate effect, she would give up her role as leader of the EKD, an umbrella group of 22 Lutheran, Reformed and United Churches, and as Lutheran bishop of Hanover, she said.

State prosecutors in the northern city of Hanover had said on Monday Kaessmann was under investigation and could lose her driver’s license for a year after police stopped her for shooting a red light on Saturday night.

She was found to have a blood-alcohol level that was more than three times the legal limit, the prosecutors said.

I wonder if we’d get a similar decision from the heads of American religious assemblies? Or would they follow the accepted pattern of shedding a few tears on TV – presume forgiveness from their invisible spirit – and carry on as if nothing unusual had occurred?

Microsoft ambushes Waledac botnet – legally!

Waledac holiday template

Microsoft is intent on eliminating the Waledac botnet and is using the legal system to help.

Tim Cranton, Microsoft’s associate general counsel, wrote on the company’s blog that Microsoft has been shutting down Waledac by working with technology partners and taking legal action.

In response to a complaint filed by Microsoft, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to shut down 227 Internet domains believed to be run by cybercriminals spreading the Waledac spambot.

This week’s legal takedown of Waledac, known internally at Microsoft as “Operation b49,” came after months of investigation, wrote Cranton. Once the company had gathered its evidence, the challenge was how to find a legal means to allow Microsoft to block the suspected domains from their botnets and stop them from further infecting and controlling their victims.

To achieve this, Microsoft looked at a legal principle called “ex parte TRO.” Ex parte means without notifying the other side, and TRO stands for temporary restraining order…

“We drafted the complaint in such a way that explained to the court that the amount of damages to consumers across the world, and also other companies in addition to Microsoft itself, warranted the granting of this rather extraordinary order,” said Richard Boscovich…

The legal action has already cut off access to Waledac at the domain level, according to Cranton. This means the connection has been severed between the command and control centers of the botnet and most of the infected computers worldwide. Cranton said that Microsoft is working with security organizations to take down Waledac’s remaining peer-to-peer command and control connections.

All of the members of the worldwide dweebs association – those who never update against viruses, trojans, persist in wandering down the highway to spam hell – need to be reminded for the umpteenth time of their participation in crimes against the freedom of the Web.

World’s helicopter leader ready to try diesel

The largest helicopter maker in the world has announced it is committed to developing a diesel-powered helicopter in the next five years. Eurocopter displayed an example of a possible diesel piston-engine design at this week’s Heli-Expo in Houston. The company says the efficient powerplant could replace turbine engines in its light, single-engine helicopters…

Diesel engines have proven to be very successful in the auto industry over the past decade. Gone are the days of noisy, gutless, smoky motors. Today’s diesels are quiet, efficient and the power-to-weight ratio is so good, diesels are used in racing. Diesel-powered cars from Audi and Peugeot have dominated the iconic 24 Hours of LeMans in recent years…

“Specific fuel consumption is cut by 40 percent,” he said compared to existing turbine engines used in the company’s smaller helicopters.

Currently all of Eurocopter’s helicopters are turbine-powered. Turbine engines are incredibly reliable and provide a large amount of power for the weight of the motor. But they are also quite thirsty for fuel. The cost of fuel for a small helicopter can run several hundred dollars per hour. Any reduction is obviously welcome news to helicopter operators.

Eurocopter has said its EC120 (pictured above) would be a likely candidate for the diesel engine. Currently, the helicopter is powered by Turbomeca Arrius turbine engine…

RTFA. Interesting tech in the 2-stroke diesel Eurocopter exhibited. Jason Paur asked the same questions I would have – and apparently got the right answers.

Usually, I’d suggest a twin turbo to cut lag time. But, the EcoMotor is dual-piston, 2-stroke and might not need the extra timing boost.

Thanks, wok3

Coppers planted evidence, lied about Katrina shootings

New Orleans “Finest” turning themselves in for murder charges

Admitting a cover-up of shocking breadth, a former New Orleans police supervisor pleaded guilty to a federal obstruction charge on Wednesday, confessing that he participated in a conspiracy to justify the shooting of six unarmed people after Hurricane Katrina that was hatched not long after police stopped firing their weapons.

The guilty plea of Lt. Michael Lohman, who retired from the department earlier this month, contains explosive details of the alleged cover-up and ramps up the legal pressure on police officers involved in the shooting and subsequent investigation. It’s unclear when Lohman’s cooperation with federal authorities began, but he presumably is prepared to testify against the officers he says helped him lie about the circumstances of a shooting he immediately deemed a “bad shoot.”

Lohman, who pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to obstruct justice, admits he failed to order the collection of evidence or canvassing of witnesses, helped craft police reports riddled with false information, participated in a plan to plant a gun under the bridge and lied to investigators who questioned police actions…

In a news conference after Lohman’s plea, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said police must be held to the law.

“Police officers are there to protect us, and to protect the most vulnerable among us,” he said. “Their jobs are to help individuals and protect us, not to hurt us. Sadly, sadly, we come across in the course of our work here…officers who violate their oaths of office, who occasionally violate their duties, violate their commitment to serve the public. And we take actions against those individuals wherever they violate federal law. We will continue to do that.”

RTFA. A long and detailed narrative of corruption, conspiracy and cronyism.

Gee, I wonder how much coverage this will get from the “fair and balanced” news thugs who parroted all the lies offered by these guardians of the public trust – after the shootings? Anyone think the populist wing of American bigotry will suddenly own up to their racist blogging and support for a group of cops who shot down six unarmed civilians.

The New Orleans PD went through enough crap with the exposure of individuals who spent their “rescue” time stealing from businesses overwhelmed by the storm. This sad tale will not ease the task of building honesty into a department that never had an excess of that quality in the first place.

Hasidic diamond heist not Kosher: not real thieves, not Jewish

On-the-job training as a crook?

Two New York Diamond District wholesalers were so desperate to get out of debt that they hired three men to dress up as Hasidic Jews and rob their store at gunpoint, said NYC police.

Investigators became suspicious after the 2008 robbery when they discovered that the two owners, Atul Shah, 48, and Mahaveer Kankariya, 43, took out a new insurance policy just before the heist.

One of the phony bandits is currently being questioned at the Midtown North stationhouse, sources told the NY Post.

The whole thing was set up,” one source told the paper, adding that enhanced video surveillance footage showed the owners stealing the jewelry prior to the fake heist.

The dimwits thought they’d turned off all the surveillance cameras.

The second robber is apparently still at large.

Har! Dumb enough for dumb crooks of the week.

Heroic labrador awarded Victoria Cross for animals

Like his colleagues who have been similarly honoured before him, the latest member of the British military to receive a medal may have woken this morning with a sense that today would not be a normal day.

Unlike other service personnel, the hero of the hour then lapped up water from a bowl on the floor and thrust his face into a dish of dog food.

The actions of Treo, a black labrador trained by the army as an arms and explosives search dog, are to be formally recognised when he is awarded “the animals’ Victoria Cross“.

The eight-year-old was deployed to Afghanistan in March 2008, tasked with searching for weapons and munitions concealed by the Taliban.

On 15 August 2008, while working in the town of Sangin, he located a daisy chain IED – two or more explosives wired together to maximise casualties.

A month later, Treo found a second daisy chain, saving a platoon from injury. Recommending him for the award to PDSA [Peoples’ Dispensary for Sick Animals], the army said Treo’s actions had saved soldiers and civilians from death and serious injury.

The black labrador, accompanied by his handler of five years, Sergeant Dave Heyhoe, will be presented with the PDSA Dickin medal by Princess Alexandra at the Imperial War Museum in London.

The bronze medallion, bearing the words “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve” within a laurel wreath, is named after Maria Dickin, founder of the PDSA.