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Scene above:  Constitution Island, where Revolutionary War forts still exist, as photographed from Trophy Point, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
 

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MAY 25-26,  2023

PATHETIC:  How can we possibly compete with other advanced nations?  From Fox:

A Texas high school had to postpone its graduation after only a few of their seniors met graduation requirements.

While preparing for the ceremony, students at Marlin High School received a disappointing announcement on Wednesday that their graduation would be rescheduled for June.

The school district announced the sudden change in a statement posted to Facebook along with calling for a mandatory meeting for senior parents that same night.

Community members and parents took to the comment section to blast the school district for the outcome. Some parents said that the move is not fair to the students who did pass the graduation requirements.

According to NPR, Marlin ISD Superintendent Darryl Henson said a review of attendance, grades and credits found that only five out of 33 seniors initially met graduation requirements. The school tried to work with students and was able to "help an additional 12 students resolve missing credits and other issues as of Wednesday evening."

However, despite their efforts, it was not enough and the district put out the statement to families about the graduation postponement to "provide more time for students to meet necessary requirements for graduations, many of whom did not meet requirements due to attendance or grades."

"Our district will grow from this setback. Let this be a lesson learned for all," Henson said via Twitter. "As we continue to go through our annual graduation audit, it's our obligation to ensure that all students have met all requirements. Support, accountability, & integrity will remain at the forefront."

He tweeted an image of his statement that read, "We hold firm to our belief that every student in Marlin ISD can and will achieve their potential. We maintain high expectations, not as an imposition, but as a show of faith in our students' abilities. As we navigate these challenges, one thing is clear: students in Marlin ISD will be held to the same high standard as any other student in Texas." 

This comes after the recent results of the national test scores that showed sharp declines in math and reading.

Math scores saw their largest declines ever, while reading scores dropped to levels not seen since 1992 for fourth and eighth graders across the country, according to the Nation’s Report Card. The average mathematics score for fourth-grade students fell five points from 2019 to 2022. The score for eight-graders dropped eight points. Reading for both grades fell three points since 2019." 

Math scores were worst among eighth graders, with 38% earning scores deemed "below basic" — a cutoff that measures, for example, whether students can find the third angle of a triangle if they’re given the other two. That’s worse than 2019, when 31% of eighth graders scored below that level. 

Not a single state saw improvement in their average test scores, with some recording no change at all. Schools in large urban districts also reflected the national average.

COMMENT:  The Chinese must really be afraid of us.  How can we defeat those American geniuses? 

Very easily, it appears.

May 26, 2023       Permalink

 

ANOTHER REMINDER OF THE REAL WORLD:  Oh yes, our election campaign is important, and will grow more so.  But one major purpose of Urgent Agenda is to remind readers of critical, even potentially catastrophic events that change our world while we're looking away.  Consider developments in Iran, from Reuters:

DUBAI, May 25 (Reuters) - Iran successfully test-launched a ballistic missile with a potential 2,000-km range on Thursday, state media said, two days after the chief of Israel's armed forces raised the prospect of "action" against Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Iran, which has one of the biggest missile programmes in the Middle East, says its weapons are capable of reaching the bases of arch-foes Israel and the United States in the region.

Despite U.S. and European opposition, the Islamic Republic has said it will further develop its "defensive" missile programme.

"Our message to Iran's enemies is that we will defend the country and its achievements. Our message to our friends is that we want to help regional stability," Iranian Defence Minister Mohammadreza Ashtiani said.

State TV broadcast a few seconds of footage of what it said was the launch of an upgraded version of Iran's Khoramshahr 4 ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,243 miles) and able to carry a 1,500-kg (3,300-pound) warhead.

"The domestically built Kheibar missile's outstanding features include quick preparation and launch time, which makes it a tactical weapon in addition to a strategic one," it said.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said, "Iran's development and proliferation of ballistic missiles poses a serious threat to regional and international security and remains a significant non-proliferation challenge."

Iran was continuing to seek missile technology from foreign suppliers and conducting tests in defiance of a UN Security Council resolution, Miller told reporters at a regular press briefing, adding that Washington would continue to use tools including sanctions to counter those efforts.

COMMENT:  Yes, we've sure been effective countering Iran's nuclear efforts.  Virtually every credible story out there tells us that Tehran is literally within weeks of producing a live nuclear device.  But who cares?  The really important thing is making sure all our college students use the right pronouns.

May 26, 2023       Permalink

 

 

MAY 23-24,  2023

A SERIOUS WARNING:  And you must read this.  Retired flag and general officers warn about the introduction of woke politics to the American military, and what it could mean for our future.   Why would anyone do this to us?  From The Federalist: 

More than 160 retired generals and admirals recently signed a letter calling on Congress to remove so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs from the Department of Defense and remove funding for such programs from the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“As our Nation faces looming threats from ‘foreign’ adversaries/enemies, our military is under assault from a culture war stemming from ‘domestic’ ideologically inspired political policies and practices. … Our military must be laser focused on one mission — readiness, undiminished by the culture war engulfing our country,” Flag Officers 4 America wrote in the letter addressed to Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Armed Services Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers, and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert.

The signatories — which included former National Security Advisor John Poindexter, Medal of Honor recipient Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, and former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense William Gerald Boykin — expressed concern about how divisive and discriminatory DEI policies affect national security. So-called “equity,” they wrote, “sounds benign, but in practice it lowers standards. While equality provides equal opportunities, equity’s goal is equal outcomes.”

The officers argued that equal opportunity and meritocracy provide the greatest foundation for both equality and national defense, while the cultural Marxism promoted by DEI policies is a domestic threat to our national security.

“To achieve equal outcomes using identity group characteristics, standards must be lowered to accommodate the desired equity outcomes. Lower standards reduce performance where even slight differences in capability impact readiness and can determine war fighting mission success or failure,” they wrote. Furthermore, obsession with identity causes “friction and distrust in the ranks, damaging unit cohesion, teamwork and unity of effort, further degrading readiness.”

Instead of DEI, the signatories advocated for a return to longstanding meritocratic military recruitment standards, pointing to a long history of true inclusivity and diversity that accompanied those standards.

COMMENT:  Please read the whole thing.  This is a serious warning from serious people.  And yet, there is indifference both in Washington and in the nation's press.  We are reminded what lack of preparedness did to our casualty rate in World War II.  It can happen again.

May 24,  2023     Permalink

 

HE'S IN THE MONEY:  We mentioned yesterday, after Senator Tim Scott announced his candidacy for president, that he may be one of the few candidates who can truly break through on the Republican side.  That notion is not original with me, but I have to say that it has some logic behind it, and one aspect of that logic involves money, and who can raise it.  From Fox: 

Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott is living up to his reputation as a prolific fundraiser.

The senator from South Carolina hauled in $2 million in fundraising roughly 24 hours after launching his 2024 presidential campaign, Fox News confirmed on Tuesday evening.

On Monday Scott, a rising star in the GOP and the only Black Republican in the Senate, became the latest contender to officially jump into the burgeoning race for his party's presidential nomination. The senator formally declared his candidacy at Charleston Southern University - his alma mater - in his hometown of North Charleston, South Carolina.

And...

Pointing to the one-day fundraising haul, Scott campaign communications director Nathan Brand told Fox News that "the outpouring of support from Republicans across the country following Tim Scott’s major announcement shows Americans are ready for an optimistic message grounded in conservative principles."

Scott is known as one of the top fundraisers on Capitol Hill. He brought in over $41 million last cycle as he cruised to re-election in the Senate. His haul was the second most of any Republican senator running for re-election in the 2022 cycle.

The senator carried much of those funds over to the 2024 cycle. He had roughly $22 million in his campaign coffers at the end of March, which is being transferred to his presidential campaign. Scott's cash-on-hand will give him a leg up over many of his rivals for the GOP nomination, other than former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Scott campaigns Wednesday and Thursday in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that kick off the GOP presidential nominating calendar. But, before he headed out, Scott huddled Tuesday in his home state with his finance team and top donors and bundlers.

Michael "Mikee" Johnson, a South Carolina-based business leader and CEO of U.S. Brick who's serving as Scott’s national finance co-chair, told Fox News earlier on Tuesday that "we have had a great morning! Amazing people coming and going, both in-person and virtually."

Scott's already spending his campaign cash. The senator on Tuesday starting running ads on TV in Iowa and New Hampshire, which are the first spots in a $6 million ad blitz into the summer.

COMMENT:   You know the old saying that "money is the mother's milk of politics."  It's true.  Scott is off to a strong start, and his ability to raise cash will attract the attention of the power players.  The Republican race is getting interesting.  Rule nothing out.

May 24, 2023       Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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