Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

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The Wages of Peace

There is no longer any doubt that the Iraq War is a moral and strategic disaster for the United States. But what has not yet been fully recognized is that it has also been an economic disaster. To date, the government has spent more than $522 billion on the war, with another $70 billion already allocated for 2008.

With just the amount of the Iraq budget of 2007, $138 billion, the government could instead have provided Medicaid-level health insurance for all 45 million Americans who are uninsured. What’s more, we could have added 30,000 elementary and secondary schoolteachers and built 400 schools in which they could teach. And we could have provided basic home weatherization for about 1.6 million existing homes, reducing energy consumption in these homes by 30 percent.

But the economic consequences of Iraq run even deeper than the squandered opportunities for vital public investments. Spending on Iraq is also a job killer. Every $1 billion spent on a combination of education, healthcare, energy conservation and infrastructure investments creates between 50 and 100 percent more jobs than the same money going to Iraq. Taking the 2007 Iraq budget of $138 billion, this means that upward of 1 million jobs were lost because the Bush Administration chose the Iraq sinkhole over public investment. … The Wages of Peace

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A rural Minnesota football team excels on – and off – the field

Argyle, Minn. – Farming is life here in Marshall County, where sugar beets and wheat grow thick across the flat landscape and small towns simply grow smaller. But in the midst of the troubles that plague much of rural America, two neighboring villages here take great pride in something that is forever etched in the ethics of work, play, and praise.

Football. More specifically, nine-man football. Kids from the towns of Stephen (population 708) and Argyle (656) attend Stephen-Argyle High School, which has become synonymous in Minnesota and the upper Midwest with championship small-town football.

A rural Minnesota football team excels on – and off – the field |


Pseudo-Science Debunked

Under the Bush administration, citizens have been told that climate change isn’t such a big deal, evolution doesn’t belong in the classroom, and there’s no use crying over extinct species.

It’s Francesca Grifo’s job to expose the manipulation of information that gives politicians cover for such claims. As the head of the scientific integrity program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Grifo documents the government’s meddling in science and advocates for a return to public policy based on sound evidence. Grifo, a senior scientist at the nonprofit and an expert in biodiversity and environmental education, explains how citizens can distinguish scientific fact from political fiction for themselves. … Pseudo-Science Debunked

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America’s addiction to sports

New York – Last week, when a federal grand jury indicted baseball star Barry Bonds for perjury, it confirmed an ugly truth: America’s got a big drug problem.

I’m not talking about steroids, Mr. Bonds’ alleged performance-enhancer of choice. Instead, I’m talking about athletics themselves. Americans are addicted to competitive sports in ways that are profoundly unhealthy to our schools, our bodies, and ourselves. And until we confront that problem, head-on, steroids will continue to plague us.

America’s addiction to sports |

The DolFan in me wants to pooh-pooh this whole thing, but the 63-year-old who’s been watching the movement toward extremes for six decades knows better.  The philosopher wants to say it’s controlled violence, and that the energy could be put to better use for the good of mankind, but the anthropologist knows that it’s another example of the black/white, us or them, tribal need to watch the warriors perform that has bedeviled the human race for millennia, and that it discharges tensions that might come out in other ways.

What do you think?

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Bottom-ranked school shoots to top after introducing Harry Potter-themed curriculum

A primary school has been praised as “outstanding” in an official
government report after introducing Harry Potter-themed lessons, it has
been revealed.

The fictional young wizard created by J K Rowling has helped
standards at Robert Mellors Primary and Nursery in Arnold,
Nottinghamshire, rise dramatically after pupils picked him to be the
inspiration for all their classes.

This term has seen the seven to 11 year olds learning
subtraction with the help of a Potter-esque “spell”, writing their own
plays based on the best-selling books and even keeping fit by
pretending to get on and off imaginary broomsticks.

Bottom-ranked school shoots to top after introducing Harry Potter-themed curriculum | the Daily Mail

No doubt they’ll all go to hell, but at least they’ll be educated enough not to think it’s real.

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Odd One Out

My friend Valerie has written something wonderful.

I was responding to a friend I made online yesterday, a few minutes ago. When I got done, I looked back over the email and thought to myself,

“I ought to stick this in a column.” Thus, here we are.

She was telling me about her family; how all of her brothers are on varying levels of the autistic spectrum, and how she’s the odd one because she’s not.

So, being that I’m the Odd One Out and all, I thought I’d respond. Oh, and the reason for the interest in the autistic spectrum is because I recently got diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome. It sure makes things click a lot better than they did before.

Some of you may know some of what I’m going to write, but I don’t think I’ve ever written it completely out at one time.

Here’s my response:  Odd One Out

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South’s public school children are now mainly low income

In 1989, Mississippi was the only state with a majority of students who needed free or reduced lunch, according to the SEF study. In 2006, 13 states had a majority of low-income students, 11 of them in the South. The only states in the South unlikely to hit the tipping point are Virginia, with 33 percent, and Maryland, at 31 percent. (North Carolina hovered at 49 percent last year.)

Some 54 percent of students in the region come from families who make less than $36,000 annually, the cutoff point to qualify for free or reduced lunch, compared with a national average of 46 percent.

“No new taxes!”  “No child left behind.”  Those Bushes really tell it like it is!

South’s public school children are now mainly low income |

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How is Atlanta like Tibet?

After a 1995 visit, the Dalai Lama and actor Richard Gere, America’s celebrity Buddhist, stopped in [at Mary Mac’s Tea Room, in Atlanta, for soul food].

Mims recognized Gere. The Dalai Lama? Nope.

His crimson and saffron robes confused her when she saw him getting out of the car.

“I thought he was a lady Dalai Lama at first. Because somebody said the name Dolly, you know?”

“I didn’t know he was a big-time church man,” Mims said.

Gere and the bespectacled Dalai Lama strolled in, ate corn bread, vegetables, rolls and cheese grits.

“He loved it,” Mims remembered. “He blessed us and everything.”

Good thing, too. Because that same day, a Mary Mac’s employee wrecked his motorcycle. “He didn’t have a scratch on him,” said the suitably impressed Mims.

How is Atlanta like Tibet? |

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A Conversation With Sir Richard Branson

In the midst of their conversation on the TED stage, Richard Branson tells Chris Anderson a surprising fact: He’s dyslexic, and did terribly at school. The revelation from this entrepreneur and billionaire touches on a common TED theme: the many ways we can succeed, and the many ways there are to be educated.

Richard Branson: Life at 30,000 feet
When Richard Branson was at school, his headmaster predicted he would wind up either a millionaire or in jail. Since then, he’s done both. Here he
talks to TED’s Chris Anderson about the ups and the downs of his career, from his multibillionaire success to his multiple near-death experiences. Watch this talk >>


I’m As Mad As The Red Bulls Should Be

This last July and August Minnesota’s National Guard Unit, The Red Bulls, returned after twenty-two months of deployment in Iraq. Theirs has been the longest National Guard Unit deployment in the war. In fact, the Red Bulls served a longer tour than any other outfit, including regular Army and Marine units.

This month many of the “Red Bulls” attempted to “get on” with their lives by registering for college courses around the state. There was one problem: when they tried to use Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits to help pay for those classes, they found they were not eligible. They could apply for lesser National Guard benefits, but once those are in effect they lose out on the Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits. Oh, yes, they were told in July when they returned the “situation would be addressed.”

What happened? The deployment orders were written for 798 days. This is one day short of the 799 required for soldiers to be eligible for G.I. benefits. It doesn’t affect only education, but there are a whole raft of benefits these soldiers have been robbed of.   Backwash – Content – Anything Under the Sun

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Rich Panoply of Giving Marks Third Clinton Global Initiative

NEW YORK, New York, October 1, 2007 (ENS) – When the formal portion of the third annual Clinton Global Initiative closed in New York on Friday, former President Bill Clinton announced that participants’ commitments will result in 170 million acres of forest protected or restored, plus millions of people with better access to health care, sustainable incomes, and education.

Rich Panoply of Giving Marks Third Clinton Global Initiative

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A $128 million gift of gratitude

NEWTOWN, Pa. – The news reached a few students at the George School last week in an e-mail carrying the subject line “You are kidding!?”

But no one was. The e-mail went on to say that Barbara Dodd Anderson, a 75-year-old graduate living modestly in Fresno, Calif., had given the small Quaker school $128 million, believed to be the largest single gift ever made to a US secondary school.

A $128 million gift of gratitude |

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Prison purge of religious books on basis of “Fighting Terrorism”

Before this summer, screening was done by BOP chaplains. They culled material sent to the libraries and pulled mostly hate literature – a lot of it white supremacist citing a Christian basis – that could endanger prison security.

The new policy instead uses religious experts to select a list of approved materials. The list is long, allowing up to 450 titles for each of 20 religions or religious groupings, and will be periodically updated. But many titles that the BOP admits “may be very worthwhile” aren’t on the list and were removed from chapel libraries.

Prison purge of religious books |