WASHINGTON (AP) — Fifty years after the pill, another birth control
revolution may be on the horizon: free contraception for women in the U.S., thanks to the new health care law.
That could start a shift toward more reliable — and expensive — forms of
birth control that are gaining acceptance in other developed countries.
But U.S. Catholic bishops say pregnancy is a healthy condition, not an
illness. In comments filed with the Department of Health and Human Services, the bishops say they oppose any requirement to cover contraceptives or sterilization
as preventive care.
In July, the National Endowment for the Humanities sponsored a workshop on
“History and Commemoration: The Legacies of the Pacific War in WWII” for college professors in Hawaii. Professor Penelope Blake, a veteran professor of Humanities at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., was one of 25 American scholars chosen to attend the workshop, but was reportedly disheartened to find the conference “driven by an overt political bias and a blatant anti-American agenda.”
Professor Blake is now reportedly calling on Congress to implement better
oversight over the NEH. In a letter addressed directly to her Illinois congressman, Rep. Don Manzullo, Blake documents conference details and asks him to vote against NEH funding for future events. According to PowerLine, copies of the letter have also been delivered to
members of the NEH council and NEH chair Jim Leach.
In my thirty years as a professor in upper education, I have never witnessed nor participated in a more extremist, agenda-driven, revisionist conference, nearly devoid of rhetorical balance and historical context for the arguments presented.
In both the required preparatory readings for the conference, as well as the scholarly presentations, I found the overriding messages to include the following:
1. The U.S. military and its veterans constitute an imperialistic,
oppressive force which has created and perpetuated its own mythology of
liberation and heroism, insisting on a “pristine collective memory” of the
2. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor should be seen from the
perspective of Japan being a victim of western oppression (one speaker likened the attack to 9-11, saying that the U.S. could be seen as “both victim and aggressor” in both attacks); that American “imperial expansion” forced Japan’s hand: “For the Japanese, it was a war to defend their unique culture against Western Imperialism” (Yoneyama 335-336); and the Pearl Harbor attack could be seen as a “pre-emptive strike.” (No mention of the main reason for the Pearl Harbor attack: the U.S. had cut off Japan’s oil supply in order to stop the wholesale slaughter of Chinese civilians at the hands of the Japanese military.)
3. War memorials, such as the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery
(where many WWII dead are buried, including those executed by the Japanese on Wake Island and the beloved American journalist Ernie Pyle), are symbols of military aggression and brutality “that pacify death, sanitize war and enable future wars to be fought” (Ferguson and Turnbull, 1). One author stated that the memorials represent American propaganda, “the right to alter a story” (Camacho 201).
4. The U.S. military has repeatedly committed rapes and other violent crimes throughout its past through the present day. Cited here was the handful of cases of attacks by Marines in Okinawa (Fujitani, et al, 13ff). (What was not cited were the mass-murders, rapes, mutilations of hundreds of thousands of Chinese at the hands of the Japanese throughout the 1930s and 40s. This issue is a perfect example of the numerous instances of assertions made without balance or historical context.) Another author stated that the segregation in place within our military and our “occupation” of Germany after the war was comparable to Nazism (’we were as capable of as much evil as the Germans”) even though the author admits, with some incredulity, that he “saw no genuine torture, despite all the [American] arrogance, xenophobia and insensitivity.“ He
attributes American kindness towards conquered Germans to our ”wealth and power“ which allowed us to ”forego the extreme kinds of barbarism” (Davis 586). Another author/presenter compared the temporary relocation camps erected by Americans during the war to Nazi extermination camps (Camacho 206). (This is perhaps the most outrageous, offensive and blatantly false statement I have ever read in a supposedly scholarly work).
6. It was “the practice” of the U.S. military in WWII to desecrate
and disrespect the bodies of dead Japanese (Camacho 186). (Knowing this to be absolutely false, I challenged the speaker/author, who then admitted that this was not the “practice” of our military. Still, the word remains in his publication. As he obviously knew this to be false, I can only assume that his objective was not scholarship but anti-military propaganda.)
8. Conservatives are reactionary nationalists (no distinction was made between nationalism and patriotism), pro-military “tea baggers” who are incapable of “critical thinking.”
The NEH isn’t the first federal agency accused to misusing its funding to
pursue a particular agenda. Most recently, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was accused of partisan operations when a recorded conference callrevealed government officials asking artists to
design projects in support of the Obama administration’s agenda.
The federal Higher Education Act of 1965, which is also known as Title IV,
makes federal aid available to participating colleges and participating
students. The U.S. Department of Education has the authority to promulgate rules to implement the Act. Title IV and its implementing regulations require participating colleges and students to meet certain requirements to be eligible for federal aid.
A student who wishes to apply for FSA must have a high school diploma, GED, pass an “ability-to-benefit test” or must have “completed a secondary education in a home school setting that qualifies as an exemption from compulsory attendance requirements under State law.”
According to the DOE, “Though homeschooled students are not considered to
have a high school diploma or equivalent, they are eligible to receive FSA funds if their secondary school education was in a homeschool that state law treats as a home or a private school.” The reasons for the DOE’s distinction between “high school diploma” and “homeschooled” are complicated and not entirely satisfactory, but this distinction is not new. In part, it is intended to accommodate homeschoolers who wish to receive FSA without requiring the student to obtain a GED or take the ability-to-benefit test.
All students seeking FSA must fill out the FAFSA. Before the new regulation went into effect, students were able to self-certify on the FAFSA that they either had a high school diploma or were homeschooled by simply checking the appropriate box. In 2009, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted an audit of student-loan defaults. It discovered several areas of concern, including so-called “diploma mills” that were wrongly issuing high school diplomas to ineligible students who later defaulted on their federally guaranteed student loans at a higher rate than others.
In response to this GAO audit, the new regulation, when fully implemented in 2011, will require participating colleges to have procedures in place to ensure that when a student checks “high school diploma” on the FAFSA that it is a “valid” high school. Additionally, the FAFSA will be changed so that if a student checks high school diploma he will have to give the name and location of the high school.
To assist colleges, the USDOE will be compiling a list of “valid” high
schools. If a student checks high school diploma, and the school he names is not on the DOE’s list, the college will red-flag that FAFSA and will investigate whether the issuing high school is legitimate or a so-called diploma mill.