S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Children welcome?

Bethlehem welcomes arrivals?
- then and now
In the Christian world, today is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ. The Bible says that he was born in a stable in Bethlehem, "because there was no room at the inn." Mary and Joseph must not have felt like the Child was welcome at this their time of great need. In the modern image on the right, this is what the border crossing into Bethlehem looked like. It does not look very welcoming, either. The nations of the Holy land struggle to settle where it is that people can live on their own soil, to feel like they belong.
More hopeful is this MSNBC story carrying the headline, "Hope arrives with pilgrims in Bethlehem Cease-fire, tourists bring festive spirit to sacred city on Christmas." Quoting from the story,
BETHLEHEM, West Bank - Calls for peace resonated in Bethlehem on Sunday as a lull in violence spurred the biggest influx of Christmas pilgrims in years to the town where Christians believe Jesus was born. Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in messages they were committed to peacemaking in 2006. In Rome, Pope Benedict offered a special prayer for peace in the Holy Land. In Bethlehem, an intermittent battleground in a five-year old Palestinian uprising, Vatican envoy Michel Sabbah said there was a real opportunity to grasp, with both Israelis and Palestinians due to hold elections early next year.

Southwest USA - New Orleans evacuee children not welcomed easily-
Houston school kids, according to the Houston Chronicle story are having a difficult time. To quote:
It was a formidable task: Taking hundreds of traumatized children — many of them grieving over the loss of lives and homes washed away by Hurricane Katrina — and trying to assimilate them into crowded, underfunded schools in the Houston area. Add a national spotlight and budget constraints to make the challenge even greater. Experts and students said they're not surprised that fights, arrests and suspensions have marked the first four months of the greater Houston area's effort to absorb more than 20,000 students displaced from New Orleans. And they don't expect the problems to go away until a series of complex emotional, social and academic issues are resolved. . . . schools have scrambled to react to the troubles that come with assimilating these extra students, including culture clashes, turf wars and typical teenage jealousies — just to name a few.
Too much media and perhaps administrative missteps also contributed to the problem, according to this story. To further quote,

that increased tensions early on . . . (but now) Officials with some area districts said they've made a point to stop distinguishing between New Orleans students and Houston students. . . . Many of the fights have been turf wars — attempts by students to take ownership of the school and establish a social heirarchy. Experts said these disagreements should die down with time. . . Striking a balanceTo improve relationships, educators need to strike a balance between helping Katrina students and not making them feel like outsiders. They'll also have to make sure that Houston students are not neglected or left out, students and experts said. . . "It's compassion fatigue," she said. "Everybody felt sorry for them and the kids were able to be compassionate at the beginning, but I don't think they had any understanding that this experience was going to last so long." Unrest is likely to continue until families from New Orleans know whether they're going to permanently make their homes in Houston. At that point, they're more likely to get involved in school activities and feel invested in their community, Mock said. Students are hopeful that those from Houston and New Orleans will stop fighting. "By this time next year, it won't be a big deal. It's a phase," Yonkeu said.

Lots of babies welcomed in Dallas.
Parkland Hospital has been named one of the best in the nation. The demographics of this public hospital indicate that 16,000 new babies are welcomed there every year. And a majority of them are Hispanic. The hospital nurseries can boast of an exceptionally low mortality. No matter what their ability to pay every patient at the hospital gets the same level of care. In recent years this caused numerous fiscal crises. But this year the hospital was much more financially sound than in the past, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Nations not quite so evenly welcoming -
European Union - emerging nations welcome?
Not all EU economies thrive as much as others. Not all of the former communist economies have been welcomed with open arms by their more mature neighbors. To quote the EU Rota,
The new countries of course have their problems and still only account for a small slice of EU-25 total GDP, but they are looked at with envy and suspicion.What are some of the little things employed by these former communist countries as they continue to shine: lower taxes, less regulation, more flexible labor markets.

United States Government - does not welcome enough children's needs in the federal budget - According to this Town Hall headline, "America Can Do Better". This article on Congressional budget actions just prior to leaving for the holidays, highlights many losses to children's services. The article follows,

Americans deserve better leadership than what the Bush administration offers,
South Carolina Rep. James E. Clyburn said Saturday in the Democrats' weekly
radio address. Clyburn, chairman of the House Democratic Faith Working Group and chairman-elect of the House Democratic Caucus, said recent legislation promoted by Republicans has done little to help the lives of many Americans.
"In order to have an America that is strong at home and abroad, we must have a government that is as good as the American people," he said.
Clyburn said American troops in Iraq are particularly hurt by budget legislation that passed the Senate on Wednesday. The measure, which cuts $40 billion in federal spending over five years, reduces funding for student aid, Medicaid and other entitlement programs.
"Every time our nation has gone to war we've called on American citizens from all walks of life to make sacrifices. But not this time," he said. "While our brave young men and women fight to protect our freedoms, Republicans are cutting services to their families back home while giving people of great means unfair and unneeded tax cuts."
Clyburn also said the administration has done little to help victims of the Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita.
"This Republican administration refuses to provide housing for thousands of disaster victims, while fleecing American taxpayers by giving no-bid contracts to their friends and cronies as Americans along the Gulf Coast continue to suffer," he contended.
"In this time of giving and sharing, no matter which holiday you celebrate or to which, if any religion, you adhere, working together, America can do better," Clyburn said.

Enough said!


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