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Mmmmm…yeah, that's good "Limeade".

September 30, 2004 Leave a comment

The WP reports that the Alexandria County Day School “accidentally” served margaritas to their third, fourth, and fifth graders:

'Limeade' Packs a Punch; Staff Slip Gives Liquor to Children at Alexandria Private School

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It was not the sort of letter a school delights in sending home to its families.

“Dear Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade Parents:

“It is with great regret that I tell you that your child may have been exposed to alcohol today at lunch,” said the missive signed by Alexander Harvey IV, head of the private Alexandria Country Day School.

It was tequila and margarita mix, to be precise, left in the refrigerator in a pitcher and mistaken for limeade by kitchen staff, who poured it into small cups and served it to children as a lunch treat, he wrote.

Some youngsters didn't like the smell and declined; others took a sip and declared it “gross,” according to parents and Harvey.

An administrator who realized something was wrong started investigating, Harvey said, and quickly discovered that the limeade was really liquor — although it is unclear why the kitchen staff didn't notice. It had been left over, he said, from a party two days earlier at the school for the staff, faculty and Board of Trustees.

The cups were collected, teachers were told and students were observed for any ill effects. There were none, Harvey said; the most any child took was believed to be a few sips because no cup was close to being emptied. The episode, he said, left him mortified.

“I am embarrassed and deeply sorry that this happened,” Harvey wrote in the letter, adding that liquor was immediately banned on campus — a policy already set at many schools — and that all future faculty parties would be off school grounds. He also spoke with staff about health issues involved with serving children food or drink from open containers.

Alexandria police spokeswoman Amy Bertsch said nobody informed the police. Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney S. Randolph Sengel said that “while it's true procuring alcohol for someone under the legal age of 21 is illegal,” the incident would not rise to the level of criminal conduct because the kitchen staff members did not know they were serving alcohol. He said it sounded like “an innocent mistake.”

Harvey told parents in the letter that everybody in the school, with 240 students from kindergarten through eighth grade who pay tuition from $14,200 to $15,600, was informed the same day, Sept. 10.

“We ask the students to be honest and admit their mistakes, and we should do the same,” the letter said.

Parents learned about the episode that day when their children came home talking about it and carrying Harvey's letter.

Bill Paxson, a former U.S. congressman who has two children at the school, said yesterday that his third-grader was “very excited about it.”

“Her words were, 'Something really fun and illegal happened today at school.' Then she proceeded to say what happened. She said it was gross and disgusting stuff. . . . She said she tasted it and it was so disgusting she couldn't drink it.”

Paxson said he was pleased with the school's reaction.

“They handled it in a textbook way,” he said.

Kim McKernan, vice president of the Parent-Teacher League, said yesterday that she heard parents praising Harvey for addressing the situation “so quickly and honestly” and that nobody she knew had questioned why the staff did not realize alcohol was being served.

Harvey said he received no complaints from parents.

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I'm more amused by the kids' reactions than anything else. “This stuff is gross!”

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New polls: Maryland back in the Kerry camp.

September 30, 2004 Leave a comment

That'll teach me to prognosticate. Maryland's back in the “Barely Kerry” camp.

Overall picture today:

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The future's coming.

September 29, 2004 Leave a comment
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Human rights and the mainline Protestant churches.

September 29, 2004 Leave a comment

Interestingly enough, I was talking about how I felt about my childhood church with last night. OK, not so much talking as La learning that sometimes innocently asking “What's that?” can open the floodgates of my Inner Pedant. Last night, it was about the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and the bunch of SDS retreads that work in the General Assembly and about their latest nitwit scheme to disinvest in Israel. I was heartened by the news that the disinvestment may not happen for legal reasons.

Then I saw this study from the Institute for Religion & Democracy. Here's an excerpt:

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Research Design

We analyzed human rights criticisms made by four mainline Protestant denominations (the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.) and two ecumenical bodies (the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches) over a period of four years (2000-2003) to determine which nations were criticized for human rights violations and why. We used the 2004 human rights assessments published by Freedom House as a benchmark for human rights in nations analyzed. A given church statement or document was considered to have criticized human rights in country X when, in the context of a discussion of human rights in country X, it passed negative judgment on specific current policies or actions of the government of X.

Results

Overall, criticisms of Israel amounted to 37 percent of the 197 human rights criticisms offered by the churches during those years, only slightly higher than the 32 percent of criticisms leveled at the United States. The remaining 31 percent of criticisms were shared by twenty other nations. For every one criticism of any other foreign nation, one criticism was made of the United States and one of Israel. Nearly all churches demonstrated this focus on the United States and Israel in their legislative actions, their statements, their news sources, or all three.

As a result, nearly three out of four human rights criticisms were made of nations designated as free (mostly the United States and Israel) by the Freedom House assessments. Those rated not free totaled 19 percent of criticisms, while partly free nations totalled only 8 percent of criticisms. Of the fifteen worst human rights offenders in the world, only five were criticized by the churches during the four year period studied.

Regions like the Middle East (apart from Israel) and Central Asia (former Soviet republics) were the most notable areas ignored by the churches in their human rights advocacy. Partly free nations, where church influence might be most effective in widening the limited civic space already open to indigenous Christians and other citizens, received the least attention.

Conclusions

The mainline churches are not adequately addressing the wide range of human rights abuses taking place in the world. Denominations are focusing on the United States and Israel as the primary perpetrators of human rights violations. Great attention to the United States may be expected from churches that find their homes there. But the dramatic focus on Israel as opposed to many more repressive regimes, including other U.S. allies known for human rights abuses (such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt), must be challenged.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the churches made the mistake of supporting oppressive Soviet-sponsored liberation movements around the world. They largely ignored human rights abuses in the Soviet Union and its satellite states, instead focusing on U.S. policy as the primary source of abuse. It appears that mainline denominations may be making the same mistake today with the Arab and Muslim worlds, ignoring many of the most serious abuses while apparently laying heavy blame upon the United States and Israel not only for their own lesser abuses, but also for the abuses of others. . .

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Read the report, if you're interested.

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More electoral vote tracking.

September 27, 2004 Leave a comment

A couple more states have moved into the exactly tied category: Minnesota and New Hampshire. New Hampshire went from being barely for Bush and Minnesota went from being barely for Kerry. Other surprises included watching California slip from being a strong-for-Kerry state into a weak Kerry state. Ditto for Illinois.

I'm posting the September 19th, 24th and September 27th maps for comparison. September 19th is the top map, 24th the middle and the 27th is at the bottom:

What's it all mean? I can only speculate, so here goes. I think more people got turned off by Kerry dissing a foreign leader (that he might have to work with) than the campaign calculated. Also, the CBS memo scandal probably isn't helping.

Of course, it's not November 2nd, either. A lot can happen between now and then.

Update: I missed something else. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida have slipped from Bush to Kerry, Oregon and New Mexico are now polling for Bush. At this point, I don't know what these shifts mean, as the polling is shifting from day to day.

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The iPod: the next Swiss Army Knife?

September 26, 2004 Leave a comment
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It's a bad sign for the Democrats when Maryland is in play.

September 25, 2004 Leave a comment

Maryland has turned into a battleground state with the last poll taken, according to Electoral Vote.com. That's something I found totally unexpected, and the message is not good for John Kerry.

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