Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today's News NJ Documentary of the Month: A Nation Reborn

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.
As slavery split the nation in two, both Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders turned to the Bible to support their cause. Former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass condemned Christianity for sanctioning slavery.

In the White House, Abraham Lincoln struggled to make sense of the war's carnage and the death of his young son. He had always kept his beliefs about God to himself. But the president, who previously had put his faith in reason over revelation, embarked on a spiritual journey that transformed his ideas about God and the ultimate meaning of the war.

Explore much more on the God in America website, including a timeline of how religious ideas have shaped America's public life, a survey of presidential religious beliefs and their impact on politics, and a behind-the-scenes video with actor Chris Sarandon on portraying Abraham Lincol

56 New Districts Join the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program, Providing Better Educational Opportunities for Students and Families

Trenton, NJ -- Fifty-six new districts will take part in the Interdistrict Public School Choice program in the 2011-2012 school year, increasing and improving educational opportunities for children and families, Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf announced today.

The Interdistrict Public School Choice program allows students the option of attending a public school outside their district of residence without cost to their parents.

“The Christie Administration wants all children to have the same hope and opportunity that comes with attending a school that fits their needs. The Interdistrict Public School Choice program empowers parents to make the best educational choices for their children, so they have the best chance for a successful future,” Acting Commissioner Cerf said.

“I also want to commend the 56 districts for participating in the program. It’s a clear sign that districts are taking steps to make better and more efficient use of their available space,” the Acting Commissioner added. “Choice is good for students because it expands opportunities, and it benefits taxpayers because districts are tapping a new revenue source.”

In the 2011-12 school year, students will be able to choose to go to a school outside their district of residence if the selected school is participating in the choice program.  Transportation of up to 20 miles, or funds to pay for transportation, will be provided by the district of residence to a student going to a choice school.  If the school is outside of the 20-mile radius, transportation will be the responsibility of the student, parents or guardians.

Currently, 15 districts are in the program. Today’s announcement brings the total number of districts participating in the program to 71. The students benefiting from choosing their own public school will nearly triple, from about 1,000 students now to nearly 2,900 students in the fall.

District participation in the program is optional.  The decision to apply to participate is made by the local board of education.  The district then sends an application to the Department of Education for processing and review.

The choice school sets the number of openings per grade level.  If there are more students requesting admission to the school than there are available openings, the school chooses the students by lottery. Any student currently attending New Jersey public schools is eligible to take advantage of this program.

For Immediate Release: Contact: Alan Guenther, Director

Surprise! Jobless Claims Are Up Again!

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Yes, I know, the news is quite unexpected. Jobless claims have again jumped to over 400,000. I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you! But not to worry, a Labor Department official tells us that it’s not at all unusual for jobless claims to spike in the beginning of a new quarter.
“New claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, bouncing back above the key 400,000 level, while core producer prices clumbed faster than expected in March, government reports showed on Thursday.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 412,000, the Labor Department said.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 380,000.
The prior weeks figure was revised up to 385,000 from the previously reported 382,000.
The four-week moving average of unemployment claims—a better measure of underlying trends—climbed 5,500 to 395,750.”…
To add to the misery, the cost of living continues to rise.
Thanks, Obama! That’s some recovery you’ve got going there.

By Lonely Conservative

Report: Hamas stopping rockets

The (anti-Hamas) Palestine Press Agency reports that Hamas has been actively stopping rocket fire from Gaza.

Starting yesterday, plainclothes Hamas members have been seeking out and stopping other parties from firing rockets, arresting them and placing them into "secret detention centers." They have been stopping and inspecting vehicles along the border, according to the report, all to enforce the current "truce."

The pro-Fatah PalPress is generally accurate, although it has to rely on unofficial sources in Gaza. But it also tries to portray Hamas as colluding with the Zionist enemy, a charge that Hamas regularly hurls at Fatah.

Chicago School Bans Homemade Lunches, Attacks Parental Rights

By Douglas V. Gibbs

In yet another liberal left move to demonize parents, and place "the state" over parents in the lives of children, a Chicago public school has decided to ban homemade lunches. School lunch served on campus is going to be mandatory at Chicago’s Little Village Academy public k-8 school, in a blatant move against parents, saying that the
schools know better on how to feed the children than the parents.

The reasoning, we are told, is that with the new lunch program the school is guaranteed to provide healthy meals without running the risk of children bringing sugary treats and salty chips from home. The parents, you see, can't be trusted. Only the authoritarian state, apparently, understands how to feed your children.

Parents have shown anger at the move, but the leftists aren't listening.

Blame it on Michelle Obama’s war on obesity, and your freedom to eat what you choose.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Chicago School Bans Homemade Lunch, School Lunch For All - FYI Living

Van der Sloot Allegedly Stabbed 3 Prisoners In Peruvian Prison

h/t Pundita in email. AOL News has it up, not sure how credible the magazine might be. It's hitting the wires right now. Hard to imagine this guy serving out any term without someone killing him, if it's true. It's being reported he's now in solitary and is said to be a heavy drug user.

Murder suspect Joran van der Sloot has stabbed at least three other inmates during his incarceration at a Peruvian prison, a magazine reports.

The Peruvian magazine Panorama alleges that van der Sloot stabbed three prisoners, with at least one victim needing emergency medical care. The magazine also reports that the Dutchman is a heavy drug user who has "been put into solitary confinement several times but comes out even more angry," a source told Panorama.

Rick Santorum Gets into the Presidential Race

Rick Santorum (google it), has said he has formed a presidential exploratory committee. The man-on-dog former Senator made the announcement on FOX News "On the Record", the NYT reports:

Mr. Santorum, who for months has been introducing himself to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, filed papers with the Internal Revenue Service that permit him to solicit contributors. He is the fourth potential Republican candidate to start raising money for a presidential bid.

“The test for me is whether we can raise the money that’s necessary, so I’m going to set up a committee,” Mr. Santorum said. “We’re going to determine over the next few weeks as to whether the resources are going to be there to do it.”

Mr. Santorum has been aggressively reaching out to social conservatives in early voting states. He received an initial showing of support by winning a straw poll last week at a Republican convention in Greenville County, the largest county in South Carolina.

Trailer for Taylor Lautner Thriller ‘Abduction’

Lionsgate has released the first trailer for John Singleton’s Abduction, a chase thriller starring breakout Twilight star Taylor Lautner. Of course, they debuted it on MTV:
In case you missed it, we peeked at a draft of Shawn Christensen’s script last year following the studio bidding war to acquire its rights. Essentially, the plot follows Nathan (Lautner), a “t-shirt and jeans type” and an ordinary high school teenager who discovers his parents (Maria Bello and Jason Isaacs) aren’t who they claim to be. When shady gunmen show up on his doorstep, Nathan and his classmate Karen (Lily Collins) go on the run.
The trailer is about what I expected, a young Bourne meets the paranoia of Eagle Eye and the mystery of Wanted. But while its flashy set pieces make for an exciting trailer, the simple trajectory and weak pay-off are sure to frustrate anyone expecting more than a sizzle reel to pad Lautner’s short resume.
Taylor Lautner - Abduction

Trailer for 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'

update79 Live From Weta: Apes Revealed Today
Weta Digital To Host Livestream Event On Facebook For Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. Oscar-Winning Vfx House (Avatar, The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy) To Provide A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Magic Of Rendering, For The First Time In The Film Series, A Photo-Real Ape.

WETA Digital, the industry-leading and Academy Award winning visual effects house behind the wizardry of films such as Avatar, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and District 9, will host a livestream event on Facebook, for RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. On April 13, at 2:30PM PDT, from WETA’s headquarters in Wellington, New Zealand, WETA’s Joe Letteri and Dan Lemmon will give viewers an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at their work on the film, a reality-based cautionary tale that blends science fiction and science-fact – and is the last big event movie of the summer.

The event will live on Facebook’s official fan page for Avatar, which has 14.2 million followers. Last year, WETA won an Academy Award for its groundbreaking visual effects work in rendering an entire fantasy world in James Cameron’s history-making epic. WETA’s work on RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES presented very different challenges and opportunities. In addition to creating a CG character that gives a performance of unprecedented emotion and intelligence, WETA is applying some of the technology it developed for Avatar to bring to life a real world – the film is set in modern-day San Francisco – and epic battles on which rest the upended destinies of man and primate.

Letteri, a five-time Oscar winner, and Lemmon will provide a look into WETA’s process, and explain how working on a Planet of the Apes film has long been the “holy grail” of visual effects wizardry – and a driving force behind their own careers. In addition, visitors to the livestream event will hear from other RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES filmmakers, including director Rupert Wyatt, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the work of actor Andy Serkis, whose nuanced performance is playing a key role in WETA’s rendering of Caesar, the film’s principal ape character.

A five-second preview of WETA’s work on RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is available on the film’s official Facebook page.

In the film’s story, a single act of both compassion and arrogance leads to a war unlike any other — and to the RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. It stars James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo and Andy Serkis as Caesar. Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark are producing for Chernin Entertainment under its pact with Fox. Rupert Wyatt is directing from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, who are also producing.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES opens in theaters everywhere August 5, 2011.