Daily Archives: September 1, 2009

State preps to relocate quarantined H1N1 victims ‘Your home and other less restrictive alternatives are not acceptable’

DES MOINES, Ia. – A blank document from the Iowa Department of Public Health has been discovered online, designed to be filled in with the name of an H1N1 virus victim who is required to relocate from his or her home to a quarantine facility.

The form, which began appearing today in e-mails and on the Internet, has concerned a confused public already swimming in conflicting reports about the severity of the swine flu and intrusive government measures that many fear may be taken if the disease becomes a pandemic.

The Iowa document, which WND confirmed with state officials is authentic, has done little to calm the public’s fears.

“The Iowa Department of Public Health has determined that you have had contact with a person with Novel Influenza A H1N1,” the form reads. “The Department has determined that it is necessary to quarantine your movement to a specific facility to prevent further spread of this disease.

“The Department has determined that quarantine in your home and other less restrictive alternatives are not acceptable,” the document continues, before listing mandatory provisions of compliance with relocation to a quarantine facility.

The blank-form document, which has no name or case number listed, is titled a “Facility Quarantine Order,” and though Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director Patricia Quinlisk confirmed the state has the form, she told WND it’s highly unlikely it will ever be used.

“We’ve had these kinds of template orders for years, but we hardly ever use them,” Quinslick said. “I can count on two hands the number of times – in 20 years – that we’ve had to relocate a person because of quarantine.”

Quinslick wasn’t certain who released the blank document, or who signed her name to the bottom of some versions circulating on the Internet, but she wasn’t concerned that it’s been made public.

“We’re not trying to hide anything,” she said. “This is the kind of form we use.”

Quinslick told WND her department has prepared similar documents for several contagious diseases to “have them ready just in case.”

But at the same time, she said, state law requires that when IPDH does need to quarantine someone, it be done in the least restrictive way possible, which typically means in the person’s home.

“Usually when we relocate, it’s only because they have no place to be, like a homeless tuberculosis patient,” Quinslick said, “One time, I recall, we relocated a homeless man to his relative’s house.”

The Facility Quarantine Order for the H1N1 virus that has been circulated online illustrates Quinslick’s point.

Following the order that a person be removed from his or her home, the form contains a blank for explaining the reason, including one of the following: “the person violated a previously issued home quarantine order, the person does not have an appropriate home setting conducive to home quarantine, etc.”

Quinslick told WND it was doubly unlikely the state would use the form, since the swine flu has proven less dangerous than earlier estimates.

“I don’t anticipate using [the form] for H1N1, since it’s been shown to be a very mild disease,” Quinslick said. “We found this spring it’s not as serious as feared.”

As for fears that Iowa is preparing detention centers for rounding up the people who refuse swine flu shots, Quinslick was quick to dismiss the idea.

“Iowa has no relocation facility currently,” she said. “If we can’t quarantine a person in their home, we usually use a hotel room. There’s not a facility, no gymnasium or anything like that set up.

“And I’ve never been in on any discussion of forcing people to be vaccinated,” she added. “If there’s a highly contagious outbreak and a person refuses vaccination, that’s fine, they don’t need to be vaccinated, but they may need to stay home until we’re certain the danger has passed.”

http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=108548

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IRS to Mine Payment Data on Mortgages

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service will expand a program designed to catch tax cheats that searches for inconsistencies between mortgage payments and income.

After prompting from an IRS auditor, the agency will study whether it should make greater use of data on mortgage-interest payments provided to it by banks. The IRS currently uses such data to send notices to non-filers who it believes should have filed a return.

The data could also be used to target for audits individuals who don’t file tax returns, or who report less income than they paid in mortgage interest, according to a letter released Monday by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

The IRS move will expand a regional research project on mortgage interest to a nationwide level by December 2011. Such initiatives, called Compliance Initiative Projects, typically involve examination of a small number of tax returns to evaluate new enforcement strategies.

Howard Levy, a tax attorney with the Cincinnati firm Voorhees Levy, said mortgage-interest data might be the best source of information the IRS has on small-business owners, such as roofers or carpenters, who are paid in cash and don’t report all their income to the IRS.

“That [IRS Form] 1098 might be one of the few trails IRS could pursue to find out if there is income coming in,” Mr. Levy said.

One Republican lawmaker cautioned Monday that the IRS plan could snare taxpayers who have coped with job losses by borrowing or using savings or retirement accounts to make their house payments.

“We shouldn’t presume that these struggling families are tax cheats just because they continue to make their mortgage payments despite losing their income,” said Rep. Charles Boustany (R., La.), the ranking minority member on the House Oversight Subcommittee.

Highly paid former employees of investment banks who lost their jobs in the financial crisis but who, thanks to their savings, are still making their mortgage payments, could also draw scrutiny under the IRS plan, said Tom Ochsenschlager, vice-president for taxation at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The Treasury inspector general said in a Monday report that tens of thousands of homeowners who paid more than $20,000 in mortgage interest in 2005 either didn’t file a tax return or reported income that appears insufficient to cover their mortgage interest and basic living expenses.

The data for 2005 was the latest tax data available when the Treasury inspector general’s office began its audit last year.

Based on a sample of these returns, nonfilers and potential under-reporters identified by the inspector general could have owed a combined total of $1.4 billion in tax, penalties and interest, the auditor said.

Banks report data on mortgage interest paid by individuals to the IRS and to the homeowner, using IRS Form 1098.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125176078680774177.html

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President Obama’s Address to Students Across America September 8, 2009

Lesson Plans from the U. S. Department of Education


Below this fatuous letter I’m posting the lesson plans straight from Washington D. C. to the nation’s classrooms. These are prepared by 11 participants selected for inclusion in the Teaching Ambassadorship Fellowship Program. Your tax dollars at work.

Letter from Arne Duncan to site principals

Dear Principal:

In a recent interview with student reporter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP-695ATg-c, Damon Weaver, President Obama announced that on September 8 — the first day of school for many children across America — he will deliver a national address directly to students on the importance of education. The President will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens.

Since taking office, the President has repeatedly focused on education, even as the country faces two wars, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and major challenges on issues like energy and health care. The President believes that education is a critical part of building a new foundation for the American economy. Educated people are more active civically [sic] and better informed on issues affecting their lives, their families and their futures. Issues like living wage, health care, increasing militarism? torture?

This is the first time an American president has spoken directly to the nation’s school children about persisting and succeeding in school. We encourage you to use this historic moment to help your students get focused and begin the school year strong. I encourage you, your teachers, and students to join me in watching the President deliver this address on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. It will be broadcast live on the White House website www.whitehouse.gov at 1:00 p.m. eastern standard time.

In advance of this address, we would like to share the following resources: a menu of classroom activities for students in grades preK-6 http://www.ed.gov/teachers/how/lessons/prek-6.doc and for students in grades 7-12 http://www.ed.gov/teachers/how/lessons/7-12.doc. These are ideas developed by and for teachers to help engage students and stimulate discussion on the importance of education in their lives. We are also staging a student video contest on education. Details of the video contest will be available on our website http://www.ed.gov in the coming weeks.

On behalf of all Americans, I want to thank our educators who do society’s most important work by preparing our children for work and for life. No other task is more critical to our economic future and our social progress. I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead to continue improving the quality of public education we provide all of our children.

Sincerely,

Arne Duncan

Ohanian Comment: I am trying to restrain myself from commenting on how boilerplate all these “activities” from the Ambassadors are. Admittedly, for many schools the activities would be a welcome change from the scripts. And how many schools in “those” neighborhoods will feel they can afford to be “off script” for this long–having discussions, making posters, writing poems?

Get real, Duncan.

Just keep in mind the horrible hypocrisy of all this. At the same time Duncan is sending out these flowery suggestions for classroom activities, he’s promoting changes in NCLB: According to an Associated Press story of Aug. 26, 2009, Under the new rules, states are to award the money to districts that take one of these approaches:

  • Close and reopen failing schools with new teachers and principals
  • Close and reopen failing schools under management of a charter school company or similar group
  • So how many schools in districts of desperate poverty are going to provide time for students to write poetry and make posters about their goals in life?

    PreK-6 Menu of Classroom Activities: President Obama’s Address to Students Across America
    Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education
    September 8, 2009

    Before the Speech:

    • Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama and motivate students by asking the following questions:
    Who is the President of the United States?
    What do you think it takes to be President?
    To whom do you think the President is going to be speaking?
    Why do you think he wants to speak to you?
    What do you think he will say to you?

    • Teachers can ask students to imagine being the President delivering a speech to all of the students in the United States. What would you tell students? What can students do to help in our schools? Teachers can chart ideas about what they would say.

    • Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?

    During the Speech:
    • As the President speaks, teachers can ask students to write down key ideas or phrases that are important or personally meaningful. Students could use a note-taking graphic organizer such as a Cluster Web, or students could record their thoughts on sticky notes. Younger children can draw pictures and write as appropriate. As students listen to the speech, they could think about the following:
    What is the President trying to tell me?
    What is the President asking me to do?
    What new ideas and actions is the President challenging me to think about?

    • Students can record important parts of the speech where the President is asking them to do something. Students might think about: What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?

    • Students can record any questions they have while he is speaking and then discuss them after the speech. Younger children may need to dictate their questions.

    After the Speech:
    • Teachers could ask students to share the ideas they recorded, exchange sticky notes or stick notes on a butcher paper poster in the classroom to discuss main ideas from the speech, i.e. citizenship, personal responsibility, civic duty.

    • Students could discuss their responses to the following questions:
    What do you think the President wants us to do?
    Does the speech make you want to do anything?
    Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
    What would you like to tell the President?

    • Teachers could encourage students to participate in the Department of Education’s “I Am What I Learn” video contest. On September 8th the Department will invite K-12 students to submit a video no longer than 2 min, explaining why education is important and how their education will help them achieve their dreams. Teachers are welcome to incorporate the same or a similar video project into an assignment. More details will be released via http://www.ed.gov.

    Extension of the Speech: Teachers can extend learning by having students

    • Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants or puzzle pieces or trails marked with the labels: personal, academic, community, country. Each area could be labeled with three steps for achieving goals in those areas. It might make sense to focus on personal and academic so community and country goals come more readily.

    • Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.

    • Write goals on colored index cards or precut designs to post around the classroom.

    • Interview and share about their goals with one another to create a supportive community.

    • Participate in School wide incentive programs or contests for students who achieve their goals.

    • Write about their goals in a variety of genres, i.e. poems, songs, personal essays.

    • Create artistic projects based on the themes of their goals.

    • Graph student progress toward goals.

    Grades 7-12 Menu of Classroom Activities: President Obama’s Address to Students Across America
    Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education
    September 8, 2009

    Before the Speech:
    • Quick Write or Think/Pair/Share (Students spend a few minutes Thinking and writing about the question: Paired with another student to discuss, then Sharing their ideas with the class as a whole). What do we associate with the words responsibility, persistence, and goals? How would we define each term? A teacher might create a web of student ideas for each of the words.

    • Quick Write or Brainstorm: What are your strengths? At what are you successful as a person/student? What makes you successful at these efforts? List at least three things you are successful at and why you feel successful with these tasks.

    • Short readings. Notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from President Obama’s speeches about education. Teacher might ask students to think alone, compare ideas with a partner, and share their collaborations with the class (Think/Pair/Share) about the following: What are our interpretations of these excerpts? Based on these excerpts, what can we infer the President believes is important to be successful educationally?

    • Brainstorm or Concept Web: Why does President Obama want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us? How will he challenge us? What might he say?

    • Brainstorm or Concept Web: What other historic moments do you remember when the President spoke to the nation? What was the impact? Students could create a Cause/Effect graphic organizer.

    During the Speech:
    • Listening with a purpose: personal responsibility, goals, persistence. Teachers might ask pairs of students to create a word bank from the web of any one of the terms (personal responsibility, goals, or persistence) at the top of a double-column style notes page. On the right-hand side, students could take notes while President Obama talks about personal responsibility, or goals, or persistence, trying to capture direct quotations. At the end of the speech, students could then write the corresponding terms from the word bank in the left hand column, to increase retention and deepen their understanding of an important aspect of the speech.

    • Listening with a purpose: Inspiration and Challenges. Using a similar double-column style notes page as the one above, the teacher could focus students on quotations that either propose a specific challenge to them or inspire them in some meaningful way. Students could do this individually, in pairs or groups.

    Transition/Quick Review: Teachers could ask students to look over the notes and collaborate in pairs or small groups. What more could we add to our notes? Teachers might circulate and ask students questions such as: What are the most important words in the speech? What title would you give it? What’s the thesis?

    After the Speech:
    Guided Discussion:
    • What resonated with you from President Obama’s speech? What lines/phrases do you remember?

    • Who is President Obama addressing? How do you know? Describe his audience.

    • We heard President Obama mention the importance of personal responsibility. In your life, who exemplifies this kind of personal responsibility? How? Give examples.

    • How are we as individuals and as a class similar? Different?

    • Suppose President Obama were to give another speech about being educationally successful. Who could he speak to next? Who should be his next audience? Why? What would he say?

    • What are the three most important words in the speech? Rank them. What title would you give this speech? What’s the thesis?

    • What is President Obama inspiring you to do? What is he challenging you to do?

    • What do you believe are the challenges of your generation?

    • How can you be a part of addressing these challenges?

    Video Project:
    • Teachers could encourage students to participate in the Department of Education’s “I Am What I Learn” video contest. On September 8th the Department will invite K-12 students to submit a video no longer than 2 min, explaining why education is important and how their education will help them achieve their dreams. Teachers are welcome to incorporate the same or a similar video project into an assignment. More details will be released via http://www.ed.gov.

    Transition: Teachers could introduce goal setting in the following way to make the most of the extension activities.

    “When you set a goal, you envision a target you are going to reach over time. Goals are best when they are Challenging, Attainable, and Needed (CAN). For example, a good goal might be “I want to boost my average grade by one letter grade this year so I can show colleges I’m prepared.” But, every good goal also needs steps that guide the way. These steps keep you on track toward achieving your goal. For example, my first step might be, to improve by a letter grade in all subjects for each report card. My second step: to complete 100% of my homework for all my classes the first week of school. My third step: to study an extra hour for all my tests each marking period. My fourth step: to attend tutoring or get an adult to help me whenever I don’t understand something. My last step might be the most important: to ask an adult in my life to check on me often, to make sure I’m reaching each of my steps. Your steps should add up to your goal. If they don’t, that’s okay; we fix them until they do add up!

    Let’s hear another example of an academic goal for the year, and decide what steps would achieve that goal…

    Now I want you to write your own personal academic goal for this year and steps you will take to achieve it. We can revise our steps each marking period to make sure we are on track.”

    Extension of the Speech: Teachers can extend learning by having students

    • Create decorated goals and steps on index card sized material. The index cards could be formatted as an inviting graphic organizer with a space for the goal at the top and several steps in the remaining space. Cards could be hung in the room to create classroom culture of goal setting, persistence and success, and for the purpose of periodic review. (See “Example Handouts”).

    • Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants or puzzle pieces or trails marked as steps. These could also be hung around the room, to be reviewed periodically and to create a classroom culture of goal setting and for the purpose of periodic review.

    • Interview and share their goals with one another and the class, establishing community support for their goals.

    • Create incentives or contests for achieving their personal goals.

    • Write about their goals and steps in a variety of genres, i.e. poems, songs, personal essays.

    • Create artistic representations of their goals and steps.

    — Arne Duncan & Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education
    Letter and activities for classroom use

    2009-08-27

    http://www.susanohanian.org/outrage_fetch.php?id=586

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    Obama: Every move you make, I’ll be watching you online

    Planned lifting of ban on ‘cookies’ called ‘1984’-style spying effort

    WASHINGTON – The Barack Obama administration has announced plans to lift a government ban on tracking visitors to government websites, and potentially, collect their personal data through the use of “cookies” – an effort some suspect may already be in place on White House sites.

    This screenshot shows computer cookies collected on WhiteHouse.gov and Recovery.gov

    This screenshot shows computer cookies collected on WhiteHouse.gov and Recovery.gov

    A ban on such tracking by the federal government on Internet users has been in place since 2000, however, the White House Office of Management and Budget now wants to lift the ban citing a “compelling need.”

    In fact, according to the Electronic Privacy and Information Center, federal agencies have already negotiated agreements and contracts with social networking sites like Google, YouTube, SlideShare, Facebook, AddThis, Blist, Flickr and VIMEO to collect information on visitors for federal web sites. All of these private companies are known to have agreements with federal agencies, but the public has never seen them.

    In public comments submitted to the Office of Management and Budget, EPIC notes it has obtained documents that show federal agencies have negotiated these contracts with the private sector in violation of “existing statutory privacy rights.” Those agencies include: Department of Defense, Department of the Treasury, and the National Security Agency.

    There are suspicions the White House is already involved.

    When White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was recently asked by Fox News reporter Major Garrett why Americans who had not signed up to receive any e-mails from the White House, were now receiving e-mails from White House adviser David Axelrod promoting President Obama’s health care plan, Gibbs refused to answer the question.

    “The Obama administration’s favorite book seems to be ‘1984’ by George Orwell,” said Brad O’Leary, publisher of The O’Leary Report monthly newsletter and author of “Shut Up, America: The End of Free Speech.” “Only they don’t see ‘1984’ as a warning, but rather a blueprint for spying on every American who visits a government website – something that has been banned for nearly a decade.”

    According to Obama “technology czar” Vivek Kundra, the “compelling need” driving this major policy reversal is the administration’s desire to create “more open” government and to “enhance citizen participation in government.”

    O’Leary finds serious fault with Kundra’s rationale.

    “According to the new technology czar, there is a ‘compelling need’ to do this,” said O’Leary. “The only compelling need I can think of is for a failing Obama administration to compile an enemy list of gun owners, pro-lifers, tea-party participants, those opposed to illegal immigration, and anyone opposed to the Obama-Pelosi agenda of government control over Americans’ lives.”

    Spy cookies can do more than merely recall the user names and passwords of visitors who return to their favorite web sites. They can also track, retrieve and report selected movements someone makes on the Internet. Through the use of cookies, the federal government could have the power to create an individual profile of anyone who visits a government website – right down to a person’s recent online purchases, or even race, gender and income level.

    “No matter what the Obama administration says, a ‘cookie’ is a spy device,” said O’Leary. “No matter how inoffensive the administration says their spy devices will be, once you open the door to the federal government spying on every American who visits a government website, it can’t be closed – it can only be expanded.”

    According to O’Leary, if the Obama administration is successful in lifting this ban on federal privacy invasion, the lives of many Americans could become open books for bureaucrats.

    “What if a harmless trip to the State Department’s travel website or the White House’s health care site, the Census Bureau’s web site results in the Obama administration’s discovery that you are someone who recently visited Cabela’s, Smith and Wesson, or a tea party or pro-life web site?” asked O’Leary. “Is this all mundane information that political animals in government don’t care about? Of course not. You might sooner expect a visit from Obama’s IRS or Homeland Security than a pat on the back for ‘participating’ in government.”

    O’Leary says that it is time for Congress to step in and pass legislation to protect the privacy rights of Americans who could fall victim to White House spy cookies.

    “Because of the lack of transparency from the Obama White House, we are filing FOIA requests to determine exactly how these agencies are using spy cookies,” said O’Leary.

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=107086

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    White House czar urged ‘resistance’ against U.S.

    When are our Congresspeople going to start asking questions about these czars???  They are slowly taking power away from them!  And they are communists…right in our White House!!!

    Main speaker at rally sponsored by organization associated with Revolutionary Communist Party

    JERUSALEM – President Obama’s environmental adviser, Van Jones, was the main speaker at an anti-war rally that urged “resistance” against the U.S. government, WND has learned.

    The rally was sponsored by an organization associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party, which calls for the overthrow of the U.S. government and its replacement with a communist dictatorship.

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=108553

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