|The America eZine
Live Free or Die Hard!
Art & Artists
Live Free or Die Hard!
This time, John McClane takes on an Internet-based terrorist organization that is systematically shutting down the United States. This time, they got director Len Wiseman, who was props assistant on Men in Black, assistant props on Independence Day and property assistant on Stargate. Expect some awesome props! Live Free or Die Hard also stars Timothy Olyphant, who's oh-so-dreamy on Deadwood, and Jeffrey Wright, who rocked Syriana.
Bookmark this site for our upcoming review of Live Free or Die Hard!
What's Wrong with American Schools?
Are American students stupid or are American schools failing in their duties? If we compare standardized testing between American schools and 25 other western and european schools America ranks 2nd last.
And its not for lack of funding. The American public school system has some of the highest funded schools and best paid teachers in the world.
And its not due to laziness on the part of the students. Throughout primary schools students in America achieve roughly the same as the best European schools. Its only in high school that we see a dramatic difference in American students being able to compete.
Today's students likely learn more about science, math and reading by surfing the internet than they do in an American school.
So what is so different about American Schools?
Well, for starters teachers are unionized and cannot be easily fired for incompetence. All American teachers have to do is show up for work, do a half-ass job of it and they go home with a big pay cheque. So its not the students who are stupid or lazy. Its the teachers that are outright lazy.
So how do we fix the problem? Well for starters we need to change the rules, fight the unions over incompetent teachers and FIRE incompetent teachers. Teachers need to be taught a lesson that America isn't going to give them a "free ride" for the rest of their lives just by providing sub-par teaching.
Another route around this is to send your children to a private school where they do take your child's education seriously and they want to do a good job teaching your kids so that you will keep coming back to them.
Does America need more Private Schools?
Yes, we think we do. We need more private schools and we need to be giving American parents the choice of whether to send their kids to a bad school with competent teachers or a good school that FIRES teachers for incomptence.
Only then will the teachers unions start taking teaching more seriously when they see a noticeable drop in their pay cheques.
And yes there will be strikes as a result, and yes students will miss school as a result but there is a solution: If you can afford it join together with other parents and hire a private teacher (possibly a retired teacher or university professor) to teach your students during the strike.
So what is it going to be America? Are you going to stand up for children's education? Or are you going roll over in the face of lazy unionized teachers?
Sex & Romance
3,000th American dies in Iraq
Attacks intensifying, Pentagon report says
December 31st 2006.
WASHINGTON – American deaths in the Iraq war reached the sobering milestone of 3,000 today even as the Bush administration sought to overhaul its strategy for an unpopular conflict that shows little sign of abating.
The latest death came during one of the most violent periods during which the Pentagon says hate and revenge killings between Iraq's sects are now a bigger security problem than ever.
The death of a Texas soldier, announced today by the Pentagon, raised the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq to at least 3,000, according to an Associated Press count, since the war began in March 2003.
Specialist Dustin Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas, was killed Thursday by small arms fire in Baghdad, the Defense Department said. Donica was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
His death was not announced by U.S. military authorities in Baghdad.
President Bush is struggling to salvage a military campaign that, more than three-and-a-half years after U.S. forces overran the country, has scant support from the American public. In large part because of that discontent, voters gave Democrats control of the new Congress that convenes this week. Democrats have pledged to focus on the war and Bush's conduct of it.
Three thousand deaths are tiny compared with casualties in other protracted wars America has fought in the last century. There were 58,000 Americans killed in the Vietnam War, 36,000 in the Korean conflict, 405,000 in World War II and 116,000 in World War I, according to Defense Department figures.
Even so, the steadily mounting toll underscores the relentless violence that the massive U.S. investment in lives and money – surpassing $350 billion – has yet to tame, and may in fact still be getting worse.
A Pentagon report on Iraq said in December that the conflict now is more a struggle between Sunni and Shiite armed groups "fighting for religious, political and economic influence," with the insurgency and foreign terrorist campaigns "a backdrop.''
From mid-August to mid-November, the weekly average number of attacks in the country increased 22 percent from the previous three months. The worst violence was in Baghdad and in the western province of Anbar, long the focus of activity by Sunni insurgents, said a December report.
Though U.S.-led coalition forces remained the target of the majority of attacks, the overwhelming majority of casualties were suffered by Iraqis, the report said.
The American death toll was at 1,000 in September of 2004 and 2,000 by October 2005.
Bush told an end-of-the-year press conference that the deaths distress him.
"The most painful aspect of the presidency is the fact that I know my decisions have caused young men and women to lose their lives," Bush said.
Asked about the 3,000 figure, deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel said today that the president "will ensure their sacrifice was not made in vain.''
"We will be fighting violent jihadists for peace and security of the civilized world for years to come. The brave men and women of the U.S. military are fighting extremists in order to stop them from attacking on our soil again," Stanzel said.
In a statement Bush released today to wish the troops and all Americans a happy new year, the president said the nation depends on the men and women in the armed services and are mindful of their dedication and sacrifice.
"Last year, America continued its mission to fight and win the war on terror and promote liberty as an alternative to tyranny and despair," Bush said in the statement released from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he and first lady Laura Bush are spending New Year's Eve with friends.
"In the New Year, we will remain on the offensive against the enemies of freedom, advance the security of our country, and work toward a free and unified Iraq," he said. "Defeating terrorists and extremists is the challenge of our time, and we will answer history's call with confidence and fight for liberty without wavering.''
In an interview on Dec. 21 with The Associated Press, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the war was "worth the investment'' in American lives and dollars.
In his strategy reassessment, Bush has consulted Iraqis, his uniformed and civilian advisers, an outside bipartisan panel that studied the failing war, and other defense and foreign policy experts. New Defense Secretary Robert Gates journeyed to Iraq in his first week on the job in December to confer with American commanders and Iraqi leaders.
Among the president's options was a proposal to quickly add thousands of U.S. troops to the 140,000 already in Iraq to try to control escalating violence in Baghdad and elsewhere.
Others believe too much blood and money already have been sacrificed. Democrats have wanted Bush to move toward a phased drawdown of forces, while the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended removing most U.S. combat forces by early 2008 while shifting the U.S. role to advising and supporting Iraqi units.
Having launched the war against the advice of a number of nations, the Bush administration never got a huge international contribution of troops, meaning foreign forces helping the Iraqis are overwhelmingly American.
The death toll shows it. As of late December, the British military has reported 126 deaths in the war so far; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 18; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; and Denmark, six. Several other countries have had five or less.
A closer look at US military statistics in Iraq: