Monday, September 01, 2014

Monday Post

The first of September and the inevitable dawn of autumn...

What's in the news?

Canadian pilots on patrol eastern European airspace:

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the "political organization of society and statehood in southeastern Ukraine." This after NATO allies - including Canada - demanded Russia not engage in any activity in independent Ukraine.

Then, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said Russia is "practically in a war against Europe." ...

Even though people here are worried about the Russians coming, right now it's the Canadians who have arrived.

More than 130 Canadians are on the ground.

In fact, the Canadian Air Task Force Lithuania will take over responsibility for air patrols here from the British on Monday. Six CF-18 Hornets from 425 Alouette Squadron based at CFB Bagotville, Quebec flew over from Romania and will begin protecting the skies of the Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia immediately.

"We do thank them," Jurgilaite said. "We do feel safer with them here."

The Baltic State Policing mission also includes air forces from Portugal, Germany, Estonia and the Netherlands.

"This is Canada's first time to have fighter jets in the Baltics so it is Canadian history happening," said Capt. Christopher Daniel, who hails from Ottawa and works out of CFB Trenton in Ontario. "I can tell you we are all very proud to be here to protect the Baltic airspace and to serve with our allies."
In case some have forgotten, Putin invaded Ukraine.

The Chinese have gotten around to why Kevin and Julia Garratt are guilty:

Chinese state media has detailed how it believes two Canadians who have been identified as spies worked in the country - as "ordinary citizens" collecting military and national defence information.

Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt have been detained since early August.

The Global Times, the Communist Party's mouthpiece, has published an infographic outlining the how spies are working in China.

The Garratts ran a coffee shop in Dandong in the borderlands between China and North Korea before their arrest.

In the infographic, the Global Times states one of the regular missions is having spies disguised as regular people target areas to collect information.

Other regular spying missions use the Internet to "deliberately denigrate China's military power in only forums," to "deliberately publish false information on China's military forces in forums, military websites or on chat platforms to covertly solicit corrections."

It took them long enough:

Iraqi security forces and a coalition of militiamen on Sunday broke a six-week siege imposed by the Islamic State terror army on a northern Iraqi village, amid mounting criticism over the Obama administration’s lack of a strategy to contain the bloodthirsty jihadists.

The farming community of Amirli, about 105 miles north of Baghdad and home to roughly 15,000 Shiite Turkmen, had been surrounded by ISIS since mid-July, according to reports.

“ISIS militants have fled as our heroes in the army and the volunteers are progressing at Amirli,” said Qassim Atta, the Iraqi military spokesman, according to a report on state television Sunday.

The military advance came after the United States hit ISIS militants with airstrikes on Saturday in support of a humanitarian mission.

The coalition that stormed the town from two directions included the Iraqi Army, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militias. ...

“I think I’ve learned one thing about this President, and that is he’s very cautious,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Maybe in this instance, too cautious.”

On Thursday, during a television statement to the nation, Obama admitted “we don’t have a strategy yet” to combat the rise of the monstrous ISIS.

(Sidebar: Senator Feinstein is not smart. Carry on.)

A Quebec school decides to ban homework for a year:

College de Saint-Ambroise, a school of 339 students in the province's Saguenay region, has introduced a near-complete ban on homework.

Every class from Grade 1 to 6 will take part in the one-year pilot project.

Marie-Eve Desrosiers, a spokeswoman with the Jonquiere School Board, said the goal is to ease pressure on parents and even improve student performance.

She explained that teachers will still be allowed to assign studying and reading work, but there won't be, for example, "four pages of math problems."

"It's based on research that homework time is becoming more and more difficult," Desrosiers said in an interview.

"Often children are away at daycare from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at night, and a lot of families are finding it increasingly difficult, and so we've decided to try this out at a school."

College de Saint-Ambroise won't be the first school to try such an experiment.

An elementary school in Barrie, Ont. tried something similar in 2008 and found that student grades went up as a result.

In Europe, French President Francois Hollande floated the idea of a countrywide ban in 2012, while schools in Germany have also done away with homework.

I'll you why that's a bad idea. Just like any concept or skill, practice makes perfect. If students were absolute sponges, their time in academic institutions would be very short. As it is not, it takes time and effort to acquire the knowledge and abilities that will make students into productive people (yes, productive). Even reviewing the day's lesson is beneficial. What is fifteen minutes out of a student's day? The majority of extra-curricular activities are largely sports-related anyway and one knows what a burgeoning market that is. Furthermore, a student must learn to work or complete assignments independently. That is proven by assigning short yet relevant tasks at home (and, yes, there is a benefit from doing homework). What parents should object to is pointless busy work assigned by unionised teachers who want to appear to be doing their jobs when in fact they are just burdening students with extraneous matter that can be covered in class.

The Fur: go there.

And now, a perfectly cromulent Simpsons infographic that embiggens us all. Enjoy.

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