Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stiff Fines Are Set for Long Wait on the Tarmac

The federal government will impose stiff penalties starting this spring on airlines that keep passengers waiting too long on the tarmac without feeding them or letting them off the plane — a remedy that will relieve many travelers but mean longer delays for a few.

Under the rule, airlines that do not provide food and water after two hours or a chance to disembark after three hours will face penalties of $27,500 a passenger, the secretary of transportation announced on Monday.

In recent years, relatively few flights have been held on the ground for more than three hours — about 1,500 a year, or roughly one out of 6,200 flights — but that has been enough to affect more than 100,000 passengers a year and to create substantial public resentment.

“This is President Obama’s Passenger Bill of Rights,” said the secretary, Ray LaHood, using the term favored by proponents of like-minded legislation that is before Congress. The administration’s action does not require Congressional approval.

But the airlines predicted that the rule would create a new set of complications and might force them to put more breathing room into their schedules.

Obama to tout $19B in contract savings

The Obama administration says it has saved $19 billion by streamlining federal contracting spending that doubled under the Bush administration.

The savings were part of a push to reduce federal contracting costs by 3.5 percent in fiscal 2010 and by $40 billion annually by 2011.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Book Review: This is Where I Leave You

Title: This Is Where I Leave You
Author: Jonathan Tropper
Year: 2009
Type: Fiction
Genre: Drama, Comedy

Review: This is an excellent story regarding life, family, and marriage. I look forward to reading other books by Tropper - it is that good. I would like to point out that it can get pretty sexually graphic, however, so it may not be for all.

Grade: A-

Book Review: Strength in What Remains

Title: Strength in What Remains
Author: Tracy Kidder
Year: 2009
Type: Non-Fiction
Genre: Drama, Africa

Review: The first section of this book is excellent (Deo and his travel to America). The second part is basically a review and boring words which were included to make the book longer. It is well worthy of a read.

Grade: B+

Book Review: When You Reach Me

Title: When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
Year: 2009
Type: Fiction
Genre: Children

Review: I thought this was all right. It is short and can be read in a couple hours easily. I just didn't find it all that interesting.

Grade: C

Book Review: No One Belongs Here More than You

Title: No One Belongs Here More than You
Author: Miranda July
Year: 2007
Type: Non-Fiction
Genre: Drama

Review: This is a very good modern short story book. It is a very liberal book, meaning the short stories may deal with sex, drugs, etc. Worthy of a read if you are interested.

Grade: B

Florida man sentenced for threat to kill Obama

federal court judge sentenced a Florida man to three years in prison on Friday for threatening to kill President Barack Obama in an e-mail that said "the blood of Obama will run down the streets."

Nathan Wine, 21, admitted to the judge in Tampa in August that he sent the threatening e-mail to the U.S. Army Recruiting Command on November 5, 2008, the day after Obama won the U.S. presidential election.

Wine, who had faced up to five years in prison, acknowledged in his guilty plea that he had meant the e-mail as a death threat, although he did not reveal a motive.

In his poorly spelled e-mail message, Wine said he would "not mind going behind bars for being a trigger man on this tyrant."

"I will not rest until this tyrant of America is gunned down," he said. "The blood of Obama will run down the streets of D.C."

Wine was indicted in the federal case in January after surrendering to police on a local warrant charging him with stealing a gun.

Some Schools Are Dropping Driver's Ed to Cut Costs

Because of budget cuts, many schools around the country are leaving driver's ed by the side of the road. They are cutting back on behind-the-wheel instruction or eliminating it altogether, leaving it to parents to either teach their teenagers themselves or send them to commercial driving schools.

"If my parents would have taught me, it would have been different," said Ashley, a 16-year-old sophomore. "When I drive, they try to tell me what to do, and I get nervous."

Some educators and others worry that such cutbacks could prove tragic.

"As soon as people start taking driver's education away from the kids, we're going to pay for it with lost lives, collisions, and ultimately that costs everybody," said John Bolen, past president of the Florida Professional Driving School Association.

Some worry also that many parents can't afford the $350 to $700 that private lessons can cost or don't have the skills to teach their kids themselves. Even for those who can do it, the combination of parents, teenagers and learning how to drive can be volatile.

Nonprofit Millionaires

Surprisingly, executives at the head of leading nonprofit foundations earn as much as $1 million to $4 million a year, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. These compensation packages often include salary, bonuses, health insurance and other benefits. For the past 17 years, the Chronicle has released its annual compensation package rankings for the wealthiest U.S. charities and foundations that raise the most donations. The 2008 list included a whopping 325 nonprofit organizations.

At the top of the pay list was James Mongan, CEO of Partners HealthCare System, which operates a group of nonprofit hospitals in Boston. Mr. Mongan, who is also a Harvard Medical School professor, brought home some serious bacon in 2008. Partners HealthCare System paid the wealthy professor $3.4 million for his loyal services.

The second on the nonprofit executive salary list was Glenn Lowry, director for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Lowry earned nearly $700,000 less than Mongan in 2008; he brought home $2.7 million. Coming in at a close third was Steven Altschuler, who earned $2.4 million as the CEO for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Report: Death sentences decline; death rows shrink

There were 106 death sentences imposed in 2009, the Death Penalty Information Center estimated in its annual report released Friday. That number is the smallest since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976 and compares with an annual average of 295 death sentences during the 1990s.

Fifty-two people were put to death in 11 states this year, nearly half as many executions as 10 years ago.

The center, which opposes capital punishment, attributes the drop in both executions and new death sentences to fears of executing the innocent, concerns about the high cost of the death penalty and laws that allow inmates to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Nine men who had been sentenced to death were exonerated and freed in 2009, the second highest-number of exonerations since the death penalty was reinstated, the report said.

Plaza at the Jacksonville Town Center Coming Soon

he St. Johns Town Center is getting a sort of town center within a town center, promising dining and entertainment for everyone.

"Plaza at the Town Center" is set to open in the spring 2010.

The plaza will feature unique dining, themed bars and saloons, martini lounges and lots of live music, plus boutiques, coffee shops, and retail shops.

It's being developed by Landmark Leisure Group and Ben Carter Properties.

Congress Travels More, Public Pays

Lawmakers take scores of overseas trips each year to visit military bases, meet foreign officials, attend conferences and see how U.S. funds are spent. Ever since a corruption scandal in 2005 led to restrictions on privately funded travel, legislators have been taking more trips paid for by the government.

The cost they reported for such travel abroad was $13 million in 2008, a 70% jump from 2005, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of travel records. Lawmakers don't have to report the cost of domestic travel when the government pays. The $13 million didn't include the expense of flying on Air Force planes, which lawmakers don't have to disclose.

Over the 2005-08 period, the cost of legislators' privately funded travel, both domestic and overseas, fell 70%, to $2.9 million, according to, a Web site that tracks it.

Teachers Union Raps Fla. Stimulus Application

Florida's statewide teachers union is discouraging local affiliates from endorsing the state's application for up to $700 million in federal stimulus grant money.

Education Commissioner Eric Smith's plan would require school districts and their teachers unions to adopt local merit pay plans based on student test scores as a condition for receiving grant money.

Florida Education Association President Andy Ford called the proposal "fatally flawed" Thursday in an open letter to Smith published as an advertisement in the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.

Ford called the application for a Race to the Top grant "prescriptive, topdown and unreasonable."

Who should have to pay to rescue stranded climbers?

"Depending on conditions, it can cost a lot," says Gerry Gaumer, a spokesman for the National Park Service, which spent nearly $5 million on search and rescue in 2008. "A lot of it depends on things like how much equipment you use. You're endangering your own people too."

Rescue services have traditionally been provided free of charge, like police and firefighting, but public anger over costs has led several states to implement charges, often when officials determine that the rescuees have acted negligently. In a notable case, New Hampshire fined a Boy Scout $25,000 after he departed from marked trails, sprained an ankle, and required a rescue, using a 1999 law that allows for recovery of costs in cases in which the state department of fish and game determines negligence. Seven other states have similar laws, with a variety of limits and conditions, often passed in response to costly incidents.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Review: The Man's Book

Title: The Man's Book
Author: Thomas Fink
Year: 2009
Type: Non-Fiction
Genre: History

Review: This is a pretty good reference book akin to the Dangerous Book for Boys (which is much better). Half the book, however, was about topics I could care less about. I would recommend a purchase if it was really cheap, otherwise just rent.

Grade: C+

Book Review: Liberty and Tyranny

Title: Liberty and Tyranny
Author: Mark Levin
Year: 2009
Type: Non-Fiction
Genre: Politics

Review: I was very disappointed with this novel. It is just another "conservative" who attacks the "liberals" yet at the same time seems to forget the mistakes of past and present Republican politicians. I was expecting a little bit more.

Grade: C-

Book Review: Gone Tomorrow

Title: Gone Tomorrow
Author: Lee Child
Year: 2009
Type: Fiction
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Review: Another average Jack Reacher novel. Worthy of the read solely for its entertaining value.

Grade: C+

Book Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Title: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Year: 2007
Type: Fiction
Genre: Drama

Review: This was a pretty decent book. The story was intriguing and short. My only complaint was the lack of any ending. It just seemed to end all of a sudden. Maybe I missed something...It is short though, which often brings my score up greatly.

Grade: B-

Book Review: Lowboy

Title: Lowboy
Author: John Wray
Year: 2009
Type: Fiction
Genre: Drama

Review: This is a very well written story. Worthy of a read for sure. My only problem with the book is that it seems to be missing something - the plot and characters are there, it's just...It reminds me of Seinfield in some ways.

Grade: B

Key Vote: Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009

This House bill would overhaul financial services regulations and place new controls on institutions deemed to pose a risk to the entire financial system. The bill now awaits Senate action.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw voted NO......send e-mail
or see bio

Key Vote: Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, HUD, and related agencies for FY 2010

The House passed this $446.8 billion bill that combines 6 unfinished 2010 fiscal year spending bills. The bills included are Transportation/HUD; Military Construction/Veterans Affairs; Labor/HHS; State/Foreign Operations; Commerce/Justice/Science; and Financial Services. The Senate gave final approval to the bill on Sunday.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw voted NO......send e-mail
or see bio

Key Vote: Tax Extenders Act of 2009

The House voted to extend a number of expiring tax cuts. The bill now awaits Senate action.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw voted NO......send e-mail
or see bio

Key Vote: Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 3288; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010

The Senate gave final approval to this $446.8 billion bill that combines 6 unfinished 2010 fiscal year spending bills. The bills included are Transportation/HUD; Military Construction/Veterans Affairs; Labor/HHS; State/Foreign Operations; Commerce/Justice/Science; and Financial Services. The bill now goes to the President.

Sen. Bill Nelson voted YES......send e-mail
or see bio

Sen. George LeMieux voted NO......send e-mail
or see bio

Key Vote: Table Nelson amendment on abortion funding

During debate of the health care reform bill, the Senate rejected this amendment that would have prohibited federal funding of abortion coverage.

Sen. Bill Nelson voted YES......send e-mail
or see bio

Sen. George LeMieux voted NO......send e-mail
or see bio

Key Vote: Permanent Estate Tax Relief

The House approved this legislation that would lower the maximum rate of estate and gift taxes to 45% after 2009. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw voted NO......send e-mail
or see bio

Key Vote: Mikulski Amendment

The Senate adopted this amendment to the health care reform bill, which aims to guarantee that women of all ages receive an annual women's health exam at no cost. The Senate is still debating this bill.

Sen. Bill Nelson voted YES......send e-mail
or see bio

Sen. George LeMieux voted NO......send e-mail
or see bio

Key Vote: Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009

The House passed this bill to change the formula that determines the Medicare physician fee schedule, with the intention of preventing a 21 percent reduction in Medicare payments to physicians. It now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw voted NO......send e-mail
or see bio

Key Vote: Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009

The House approved this legislation that would reauthorize FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters grants and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program through FY2014. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Ander Crenshaw voted YES......send e-mail
or see bio

Key Vote: Begin debate on health care

The Senate voted to proceed to debate on this bill, which is being used as the vehicle for health care reform legislation. The Senate will begin debate following the Thanksgiving recess.

Sen. Bill Nelson voted YES......send e-mail
or see bio

Sen. George LeMieux voted NO......send e-mail
or see bio

Key Vote: Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009

The Senate passed this bill intended to provide assistance to caregivers of veterans and to improve veterans’ health care. It now goes to the House.

Sen. Bill Nelson voted YES......send e-mail
or see bio

Sen. George LeMieux voted YES......send e-mail
or see bio

Key Vote: Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations

The Senate unanimously passed this $133.9 billion bill funding military construction projects and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Senate and House will now go to conference to work out differences between their versions of the bill.

Sen. Bill Nelson voted YES......send e-mail
or see bio

Sen. George LeMieux voted YES......send e-mail
or see bio

Crist signs rail bill

Gov. Charlie Crist today signed a bill that establishes dedicated funding for Tri-Rail and helps pave the way for a comprehensive rail policy in the state.

In a special session last week, Florida lawmakers passed the bill to show support for Tri-Rail and a proposed rail system in Orlando, and to seek billions of dollars in federal stimulus money for high-speed rail and other rail projects. Federal officials indicated that Florida would be denied stimulus money for other rail projects unless it supported existing rail systems. However, there is no guarantee that Florida will receive the stimulus money now that the bill has been passed.

Tri-Rail will get an estimated $13 million to $15 million a year on top of the about $20 million it already receives. The money will come from an existing fund for transportation initiatives and it will not impact existing road projects. It doesn’t include a controversial surcharge on car rentals, which had been floated as the preferred option.

Jacksonville-based railroad CSX Corp. will receive $432 million from the Florida Legislature for 61 miles of track in the Orlando area to facilitate commuter rail.

Mayor Defends Taxpayer-Funded Jaguars Party

Jacksonville mayor John Peyton made a big announcement Monday at the stadium with cheerleaders and Jaxon de Ville celebrating. The Jaguars' final home game of the season will not be blacked out.

He also invited people to the Ultimate Tealgate Party before the game.

But that four-hour party isn't cheap, costing taxpayers $150,000 up front.

The mayor says Jacksonville can't afford to lose the Jaguars, so investing in the team and fan experience now makes economic sense.

"I think you expect to receive criticism no matter what you do. ... I recognize as mayor this team is important to the city and we're going to do what it takes to invigorate the fan base to buy tickets," Peyton said.

Jacksonville ethics board shrugs off Webb no-show

Jacksonville City Councilman Jack Webb didn’t appear before the Ethics Commission on Monday as invited, and commission members had no choice but to shrug off the no-show.

They said they need to focus on shoring up their own procedures before requiring public officials to appear before them.

The commission voted Oct. 26 to invite Webb to discuss his former business relationship with a major waste-disposal company, Republic Services, which raised questions about conflicts of interest and possible ethics violations. The goal was to hear his side of the story before deciding whether further action is needed.

Commission Chairman Gene Filbert on Monday blamed the panel’s lack of precedent for launching inquiries, not Webb.

Though city code gives the 17-year-old commission the right to investigate cases and issue reprimands, it has never done so.

Webb initially told the media he was eager to speak to the commission. Monday, he cited the lack of an invitation or formal procedures as his reason for not attending.

“I’m not on the agenda,” Webb said. “I haven’t been invited. There is no reason for me to be there.”

More unemployment benefits in millions don’t grab Florida Legislature

Even as the state borrows $300 million a month from the federal government to pay unemployment claims, a key senator said the Legislature is unlikely to consider a change in the law that could bring more than $400 million in federal stimulus money to Florida.

Even without modernization, a series of changes approved by the Legislature last year and the erosion of the trust fund will push tax rates up from about $8.40 an employee this year to $100.30 an employee in 2010.

Duval’s number of suspensions drops dramatically

Suspensions are down by 71 percent in Duval County’s public schools in just one year, according to figures comparing the first nine weeks of the previous school year with the current school year.

In the first 44 days of school, suspensions fell from 8,541 last year to 2,500 this year. Discipline referrals — when a student is written up by a teacher for bad behavior — are down by more than 30 percent year to year, from 27,857 to 19,083. Referrals can often lead to a student’s suspension.

The percentage drops for suspended students were virtually the same among all races. The majority of the suspended students, 72 percent, are black.

Dana Kriznar, the school system’s executive director of alternative education programs and behavioral support, said the progress is attributed to better discipline data monitoring, teacher training, fewer referrals from teachers and improved attendance at the Jacksonville Journey’s Alternative to Out-of-School Suspension centers.

Students who attend the suspension centers are not recorded as suspended because they are still in an academic environment. About 1,300 students were referred to the suspension centers in the first quarter.

Candidate Marco Rubio takes middle road on Florida rail projects

As speaker of the Florida House, Marco Rubio voted for a controversial SunRail commuter rail project and published a book of policy ideas touting investments in rail, highways and transit as huge job creators.

But now that he's a Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Rubio won't give a clear answer on the biggest policy debate of the day: Should lawmakers approve the billion-dollar package of rail projects under debate in a special legislative session?

``Back then it made sense from an economic perspective. Now we're living in a much different time, so it's a new cost-benefit analysis,'' Rubio said Monday when pressed to take a stance. ``Everything is done in the context of the moments in which you're living.''

EPA: Greenhouse gases are harmful to humans

The Environmental Protection Agency took a major step Monday toward regulating greenhouses gases, concluding that climate changing pollution threatens the public health and the environment.

The EPA said that the scientific evidence surrounding climate change clearly shows that greenhouse gases "threaten the public health and welfare of the American people" and that the pollutants — mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels — should be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

Under a Supreme Court ruling, the finding of endangerment is needed before the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases released from power plants, factories and automobiles under the federal Clean Air Act.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Book Review: Maus II

Title: Maus II
Author: Art Spiegelman
Year: 1986
Type: Non-Fiction
Genre: Memoir, Comics

Review: This is a very good comic book regarding the Holocaust. It sounds like it would be weird but it is a very good series. Easy to read and well worth the short time.

Grade: B-

Book Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Year: 2007
Type: Fiction
Genre: Children

Review: This is an excellent novel. It is about 500 pages but half of it is pictures. It goes by real fast and is well worth the read. Reminds me of when I was a kid...

Grade: A

Class sizes grow amid Florida's fiscal woes

Class sizes in Florida's public schools crept upward this year for the first time since 2002, a reversal fueled by Florida's worsening budget crisis.

Education Commissioner Eric Smith warned last month that more districts would struggle to comply with Florida's class-size law because of the poor economy.

The reports released this week by the Florida Department of Education show that to be true. Class sizes bumped up statewide, and more schools this year than last were in violation of the law because their classes were too big.

The education department had estimated it would cost the state nearly $400 million to get all classes in compliance by next August, a figure Central Florida administrators have already called too low. With progress from last year eroded, it could take even more money to shrink the state's class sizes.

Across Florida, 72 schools — including 29 in Orange — were too crowded and ended up in violation, the department's recent calculations show. That is up from 39 last year, though still just a fraction of Florida's 3,700 or so public schools.

The class-size law comes from a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2002. It is being phased in, with the requirement that by 2010 there be a cap on the number of students in any core class — no more than 18 in the youngest grades, 22 in the middle ones and 25 in high school classes.

The education department estimated districts would need 6,447 new teachers next school year, at a cost of more than $391 million, to fully implement the law's class-by-class provisions. Local administrators say those estimates are too low. Volusia County officials, for example, say they would need 369 new teachers next year, not the 221 the state estimated, to meet full class-size requirements.

19 biorefinery plants to be built in 15 states

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Friday that it will spend $564 million to speed up construction of 19 biorefineries that will turn agriculture and forest waste into diesel fuel.

Duval Graduation Rate Up 3%; Stanton is 100%

Governor Charlie Crist and Education Commissioner Eric Smith recently announced that Duval County's graduation rate rose 3.2 percentage points to 64.5%.

The State of Florida has recently changed the formula for calculating graduating rates, which no longer include GED recipients as graduates. As a result of this new formula, graduation rates are lower than those reported in the past.

"Regardless of the formula used, we are continuing to see an increase in the graduation rate in Duval County," said Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals. "Our teachers are working diligently to increase student achievement, and the increase we are seeing in our graduation rate is a strong indicator of the positive progress our schools are making."

If the newly adopted formula would have been in place last year, the graduation rate would have been 61.3%, rather than the 65.9% as determined by the old formula. Additionally, Stanton College Preparatory was recognized for having 100% of their students graduate in 2009.

Obama's Afghanistan speech: five key points

President Obama's Afghanistan speech announced a new, historic chapter for the mission there, announcing the deployment of 30,000 additional troops in the "epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by Al Qaeda" but also promising to begin withdrawing those forces within 18 months.

The surge of forces will bring the total American commitment to nearly 100,000. It will be composed of several combat brigades, new trainers and support troops and will be deployed at "the fastest pace possible" to be on the ground and fighting by summer, an onerous task for a military deploying forces to a landlocked country with a crude infrastructure

The most important aspect of the new Afghanistan strategy is that Obama is pledging to begin to end the American commitment there by July 2011. While he said his exit plan is "conditions based," he is also pledging to begin pulling those forces out.

"After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home," according to Obama's prepared remarks before an audience of cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. "These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan."

Predictably, a large component of the American strategy is training the Afghan forces. Democrats, in particular, have pushed the administration to make training the indigenous force a centerpiece to the strategy so American forces can ultimately leave. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, had asked to double the size of the army and police to a force of about 400,000 (the Afghan Army has about 92,000 troops currently and the police has 84,000). But the administration is not wanting to bite off more than it can chew. Instead, Obama wants to undertake the massive training effort in smaller increments, one year at a time, and re-evaluate as needed.

Home buyers will have to lay out more cash for an FHA mortgage

Thousands of Southern California home buyers, and millions nationwide, will have to come up with more cash and reach higher minimum credit scores to get a government-backed mortgage under changes unveiled by the Federal Housing Administration.

Some loans might require more than the current 3.5% minimum down payment, but the Obama administration is resisting calls for an across-the-board hike. Instead, it is looking at other ways to increase the amount of cash at closing, such as requiring borrowers to pay more of their mortgage insurance premiums up front.

The FHA, which insures mortgages with low down payments, is scrambling to balance its increasingly important role in propping up the housing market with faltering finances of its own that could require a government bailout.

The agency's share of home loans has surged from 3% in 2006 to nearly 30% this year as credit has tightened and borrowers' bank accounts have been depleted. But that increased exposure has led to more defaults, driving the FHA's reserves below their mandated levels.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book Review: The Year of Living Biblically

Title: The Year of Living Biblically
Author: A.J. Jacobs
Year: 2007
Type: Non-Fiction
Genre: Memoir, Religion

Review: This is a very interesting memoir. The title says it all. I laughed a few times which is rare when it comes to reading. Well worth the read.

Grade: B-

Book Review: The Scarecrow

Title: The Scarecrow
Author: Michael Connelly
Year: 2009
Type: Fiction
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Review: This is a very good Connelly book though not the best. Like his other books, you will not want to put it down. Definitely read it if you like this genre.

Grade: B-

Book Review: On Chesil Beach

Title: On Chesil Beach
Author: Ian McEwan
Year: 2007
Type: Fiction
Genre: Drama, Romance

Review: This is just plain old boring. I didn't even finish it. The only reason I gave it a D and not an F is to the fact that it is only 200 pages. Regardless, the fact that I wouldn't spend an extra hour or so to finish it should help to explain how I feel about the book.

Grade: D

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Children showing gains in Jacksonville Journey project

The city came up with $1.5 million for the Early Learning Coalition to work with 25 child-care centers — about 800 children — in a high-crime area of Northwest Jacksonville. The short-term goal was to help better prepare the children for school, as well as get them any necessary intervention resources they need.

Because that money didn’t come through until February, the centers haven’t had a full year yet of the services that include coaches, materials, curriculum and scholarships for training. But preliminary numbers show children have improved in such areas as understanding placement of items (such as under or behind), emotional concepts (such as angry, excited), quantity (such as full or a lot) and time/sequence (such as after or before).

And the percentage of children who were proficient in recognizing at least 40 of the 52 upper and lowercase letters increased from 44 to 74 percent.