Sunday, March 30, 2014

This weekend accomplishments with Grant Rauterkus, student athlete at PPS. Waves in Water Polo

Hi all,

Grant Rauterkus, 16, South Side resident and 10th grade student athlete from Pittsburgh Obama Academy, participated in two national events since Wedsday to Sunday.

First was a research poster he was first author with based on sound quality measurements with musicians hearing protection of fellow classmates in the school's steel drum band to the American Academy of Audiology annual conference, branded Audiology NOW! ( in the Orange County Convention Center is Orlando, Florida. The scientific and professional meeting is the largest event for that profession with more than 7,000 registered, including a 2014 NFL Super Bowl player, Derrick Coleman, of the Seattle Seahawks, and spokesperson and user Duracell hearing aid batteries. 

Second, Grant traveled to the Dallas area to be a starter for the A team for the Northeast Zone (includes Pa to Md, to Maine) team as part of USA Water Polo's Olympic Development Program, East/West Boys Regional Championships playing for the Red Squad, grades 9 and 10. His team won 2 matches on Saturday beating the Mountain (includes Colorado) and Pacific Northwest (includes Seattle) squads by greater than 10 goals in each game. A two goal loss came in Sunday's first game to the Southwest (includes Texas) team. The final game was a win, 16-8, over Southeast (includes Florida). Grant scored on a play from the 2 post on a man up opportunity.

Third, Throughout the water polo tournament the USA National Team Coaches evaluate all the players and make invitations to a "USA Water Polo Selection Camp" to be held in May in California. Results of those tryouts make players that are put onto the various Junior USA squads for future international tournaments. This invite to the selection camp, the first ever earned by Grant, puts him in the final stages for opportunities to join USA squads for his age group. This pathway eventually leads to the picking of USA Olympic Games Team and helps tremendously in becoming a blue-chip recruit for college water polo teams and scholarships.

Background: Many other players and coaches from the greater Pittsburgh area participated this weekend with the boys and last weekend in Salt Lake City with the girls event. Tiger Water Polo's squad had players in all age groups and helped the Notheast Zone win its third consecutive championship game in the oldest age group of 11th and 12th grade players. 

Other sources are available for follow up, after contacting me including: 

Mr Starsenic, Tiger Club President and Northeast Zone coach for 7th and 8th grade players. His son Max, 11th grade, was 2013 PA water Polo player of the year for State Champions, North Allegheny High School. They are going to the west coast to visit UCLA, USC and other possible colleges for Max in 2 years.

Grant's Club Coach, Nikola M, of Tiger Water Polo. 

Grant's zone coach, Chad, assistant at GWU.

Grant's father, me, Mark Rauterkus, is also Grant's varsity swimming and golf coach. On Saturday morning, I was in the Bayor Medical Center in Grapevine, Texas with surgery to remove my appendix, so I have no photos to send at this point.

Coach Greg Kinzler of the Plum area who was an assistant coach with the Northeast Zone goalies. Is son, Greg Jr, played too and is now in 11th grade.

Rick Swartz, CEO of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, sponsor of the Summer Dreamers Swim and Water Polo Camps that will operate with nearly 200 PPS students at Langley, Carmalt and Faison schools.

Jeffery Igims, Grant's Elem PPS PE teacher and an activity camp coordinator for the Summer Dreamers site at Pittsburgh Langley K-8.

Grant and some of his PPS and club mates has been coaches with PPS Summer a Dreamers Swim & Water Polo Camps. 

Grant travels on Monday back to Pittsburgh and should be at school on Tuesday. 

In the weeks to come 4 USA Water Polo Olympians will lead a clinic at University of Pittsburgh. A squad from Greenwich, Ct, will be in Pittsburgh to give some games to the Pittsburgh players the day before the weekend clinic.

Thanks for your interest. Feel free to follow up. I will do my best to assist. 

Mark Rauterkus


Mark Rauterkus    
PPS Summer Dreamers' Swim and Water Polo Camp Head Coach
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team
412 298 3432 = cell

Polo visitor to Pittsbugh

We also have 4-time Olympian, team captain, gold medalist from London 2012 Brenda Villa coming to NASH on Sunday. For everyone that is not sure how important Brenda Villa is, I will just say that we have done a training exercise named after her. The aquatics complex at her hometown is named after her and she is only 34 years old. She is Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson combined of women's water polo. She is a living legend. I promise that the 2 hours spent with her on Sunday morning will be a memory for life. Again, its Sunday 9:30am-12:00 pm and its $30 per player. Please bring cash or check named to Tiger Water Polo. Mrs Rubio will help us collect the fees.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fwd: Sanctions? How About Sanctions Against the United States?

--- Forwarded message -
From: Andy Piascik <>
Subject: Sanctions? How About Sanctions Against the United States?
This article was posted Friday at Znet
                             Sanctions? How About Sanctions Against the United States?
                                                                               by Andy Piascik 
            As the United States imposes sanctions on Russia and moves to do likewise to Venezuela, it’s essential to keep in mind which country it is that’s the most destructive and dangerous in the world today. When such questions have been posed in international polls in recent decades, the answer overwhelmingly is the United States. Not Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia or any of the many other nations the ruling class and corporate media here regularly demonize, but the United States.
People in the global South know this all too well from the long and brutal history of US foreign policy. Because we live in such a closed society, however, where critical analysis of imperialism is by definition excluded from discussions in Washington and the national media, people here must search long and hard for such information. Should information of this sort seep into the mainstream, ruling elites invariably vilify it and those imparting it just as they vilify international figures they regard as enemies.
According to Washington, sanctions are being considered against Venezuela because of repressive measures and violence that is attributed almost exclusively to the government. In reality, counterrevolutionaries are responsible for the majority of those killed including at least one death of a motorcyclist decapitated by wire strung across a street. This tactic was suggested by retired General Angel Vivas, who has become a hero of the counterrevolution for his armed defiance of the government’s attempt to arrest him for the motorcyclist’s death. Simultaneously, the US has imposed sanctions against Russia and is threatening military escalation in response to the incursion into Crimea. Conveniently left out of the narrative is any connection between Russia’s actions and the coup in the Ukraine led by fanatically anti-Russian neo-fascists, an effort supported by the US to the tune of $5 billion, according to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. Also excluded from discussions are the many military stations the US and its allies have close to Russia, as well as the fact that practically every member of the former Eastern bloc now belongs to NATO.
As always, these events are presented in unambiguous black and white, where we are the unquestioned good guys standing up for freedom, democracy and liberty and the other side is evil incarnate. Hillary Clinton, for example, played the always handy Hitler Card in reference to Vladimir Putin, a card that in recent decades has been applied to Noriega, Milosevic, Qaddaffi, Chavez, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Assad and Ahmadinejad, to name just some. The Hitler Card has never been used against Mass Murder Inc, the US’s longstanding club of dictators that includes the Somozas, Suharto, Diem, Savimbi, the Duvaliers, Mobutu and others too numerous to list, since they were loyal servants of Western business interests. And it goes without saying that the Hitler Card doesn’t apply to us even though in the world today it is US foreign policy that most closely approximates the Third Reich’s.   
In fact, the black/white narrative collapses immediately both when today’s situations are probed and when history is reviewed. Since documenting acts of direct US aggression and additional crimes committed via financing, armaments and diplomatic support to client states would require several large libraries, let’s restrict ourselves to just the 14 years of this century.  In 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan, ostensibly in response to the 9/11 attacks even though none of those involved was Afghan and most were Saudi. Invading Saudi Arabia wouldn’t do, however, since it’s a staunch and very important ally. As Noam Chomsky has documented, the Taliban offered to assist the US in tracking those responsible for 9/11, including bin Laden, on the condition the US present evidence. Because the US was determined to wage war no matter what, the offer was rejected and the invasion of Afghanistan commenced. Thirteen years and trillions of dollars later, the killing goes on, expanded under Obama to include indiscriminate drone strikes, with no end in sight.
In 2002, reactionaries representing Venezuela’s Super Rich put tens of millions of dollars of funding from the CIA, USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy and undoubtedly other US sources to use by overthrowing the democratically-elected, immensely popular government of the late Hugo Chavez. The Venezuelan people immediately rose up and defeated the coup but the funding, sabotage and subversion have continued. Angry and frustrated at continual losses at the polls and in the streets, the old oligarchs fight on absent any international support other than that of the US and neighboring Colombia. The violence that began last month is the most serious moment in Venezuela since the failed 2002 coup, and despite its complete isolation the US has ramped up its 15-year propaganda war against the Bolivarian Revolution.
In 2003, the US illegally overran Iraq, demolishing the country as well as the argument used to justify the invasion that Hussein was a powerful threat because of weapons of mass destruction. The US knew no such weapons existed and the invasion has resulted in what some  international reports say is more than one million Iraqi deaths.  Coming on the heels of the 1991 US invasion and the ensuing years of Sanctions of Mass Destruction, Iraq has been largely destroyed and is now plagued by bitter internal fighting. Central to that fighting is Al-Qaeda, which had absolutely no presence in Iraq but is now a formidable force thanks to the invasion.
After hammering Muammar Qaddafi for decades to turn over Libya’s weapons, the US illegally invaded that country in 2011 not long after he complied. At least 50,000 people were killed as a result including Qaddafi, and Libya was plunged into chaos that continues to this day. Elsewhere in the Mideast, the US continues to support Israel’s ever-expanding occupation of Palestine and again finds itself on the same side as Al-Qaeda and other terrorists in Syria as it attempts to do there what it did in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.
Since the 1990’s, the US has supported mass killer Paul Kagame in Rwanda while presenting him as a hero. In reality, the war in Rwanda began with the 1990 invasion from Uganda by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, an army Kagame soon became head of. Four years later, with peace talks underway, the RPF killed Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana by shooting down a plane on which he was returning from a negotiating session. Thus began the most horrific period in the region, with mass killings on all sides and the US undermining peacekeeping efforts and several potential settlements so the RPF could win a complete victory.
Former UN Secretary General for one puts the blame on the US for its support of Kagame and the RPF. As reported recently in Counterpunch by Robin Philpot, Boutros-Gali has said that “the Rwandan genocide was 100% American responsibility.” Reports by a number of international organizations, including several by the UN, concluded that the RPF is responsible for more than one million deaths and possibly several million in Rwanda. In addition, UN and other reports have found the RPF responsible for the most serious atrocities during years of warfare in the neighboring Congo. Edward Herman has called Kagame a “double genocidist” while underscoring that the US made the killing possible and business interests benefited most from it.
In Latin America, in addition to supporting counterrevolution in Venezuela, the US continues to lavish millions on Colombia in a decades-long War on Drugs that is, in fact, a war against the people designed to destroy opposition to domination by global capital. And in 2009, the US was virtually alone in the world in recognizing the coup government that came to power in Honduras in 2009 by overthrowing democratically-elected reformer Manuel Zelaya. The coup and two fraudulent elections have restored the oligarchy’s power while opponents are being killed in alarming numbers by the military, paramilitaries and others suspected of ties to the coup regime. The eradication of opposition is necessary to the smooth operation of mining multinationals in particular, and Western investments have increased dramatically since the coup.
US violence is not restricted to other nations. Domestically, that is best illustrated by the massive imprisonment of African-Americans. With the highest incarceration rate in the world and the vast majority of prisoners black as well as ongoing police and vigilante violence aimed almost exclusively at blacks, the US is not so different from apartheid-era South Africa. Perhaps international sanctions are in order to turn the US into a pariah, and diplomatic isolation would help the world’s most dangerous state get a dose of civilization.
The people of the US bear a special responsibility to oppose both its government’s aggression and its funding and arming of subordinates engaged in terror.  During the US-financed Central American killing fields of the 1980’s, a campesino at the New York stop of her speaking tour implored people here to “help us by changing your country.” Those words echo louder than ever today and come from every part of the world; it remains to be seen whether our collective reply to those cries is in the affirmative.
Andy Piascik is a long-time activist and award-winning author who writes for Z Magazine, The Indypendent, Counterpunch and many other publications and websites. He can be reached at        

Mark Rauterkus    
PPS Summer Dreamers' Swim and Water Polo Camp Head Coach
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team
412 298 3432 = cell

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fwd: 2014 Spring Open Clinic Registration


The snow is receding, the days are longer and the Masters Tournament heralds the start of the 2014 golf season.  To celebrate The First Tee of Pittsburgh will offer expanded programs in new locations to serve our participants and their families.  Please see the new menu below to select the location that is most convenient for you.  (And please tell your family and friends!)


The Bob – Clinics at our home base, The Bob O’Connor Golf Course in Schenley Park, will begin on April 5 and Spring League begins on April 3 For more information and registration for The Bob please click here l


Pleasant Ridge – Our McKees Rocks location, The First Tee of Pittsburgh at Pleasant Ridge starts their programs on April 23.   For more information and registration for Pleasant Ridge please click here l


7 Springs – We will continue our program in Elizabeth, PA at 7 Springs Golf Course on April 9.   For more information and registration for 7 Springs please click here l


Norvelt Golf Club – A brand new location in Mt. Pleasant, PA will offer Monday clinics for ages 5 – 9 starting April 21.  For more information and registration for Norvelt Golf Club please click here l


North Park or South Park Golf Courses – We are excited to partner with Allegheny County Parks with clinics at South Park (Tuesdays starting April 22) and North Park (Fridays starting April 25).  For more information and registration for North Park or South Park please click here l


Murrysville Golf Club – This new location in the east suburbs will offer clinics on Monday evenings starting April 21.  For more information and registration for Murrysville Golf Club please click here l



  Please read this

  1. You may register online or print out a registration form and mail it to our office.

  2. All clinics are capped and admission is first come, first serve.

  3. Scholarships are available for all locations.

  4. You will not receive any additional confirmation after registration – please come to the first session.

  5. A parent orientation will be held at the start of the first session with information about participant benefits.

  6. The First Tee of Pittsburgh provides all equipment that is needed.

  7. Please do NOT call the golf courses.  Call 412-622-0108 for more information or visit

  8. We will post weather cancellation one hour before clinic start time on our website and Facebook page

Mark Rauterkus    
PPS Summer Dreamers' Swim and Water Polo Camp Head Coach
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team
412 298 3432 = cell

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fwd: [DW] Call for Speakers - National Association of Government Web Professionals - Due March 18

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Steven Clift" <>
Date: Mar 13, 2014 2:22 PM
Subject: [DW] Call for Speakers - National Association of Government Web Professionals - Due March 18
To: <>


Interested in speaking at NAGW 2014?

September 9-12, St Paul, MN

NAGW is seeking presenters who are willing to share knowledge and
ideas and present on new technologies and trends.

The deadline for submitting proposals is Tuesday, March 18, 2014.

The focus of the NAGW National Conference is to bring together local
government webmasters who share similar goals and issues. The
conference is open to any web professional looking to enhance their
skills. We welcome speakers from both the public and private sector.

How long are presentations?

Pre-conference (hands-on) workshops, held on September 9, will be four
(4) hours long with both morning and afternoon slots available.
Regular conference and Friday Focus sessions are 75 minutes which
includes a 15-minute question-and-answer period.

What topics are you looking for in 2014?

Based on attendee evaluations and other industry data, we have decided
to focus on a few core topics. While your proposed session can fall
outside these core topics for 2014, priority will be given to those
that fall within the following topic areas:

Content strategy

Creating compelling content
Content migration
Social media
Multi-channel content repurposing
Document and form management
Video and photo content
Plain language

Modernizing the web

Javascript libraries
Sass, Compass and responsive grid systems
Git, version control and deployment, command line
Key programming concepts, such as OOP and MVC

User experience

Usability and user interface design
Information architecture


Open data
Getting involved with open source
Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress

Tools and technology

Website security
Maps and GIS
Upgrading to the newest version of Sharepoint

Soft skills

Personal development: Our changing roles as web professionals in government
Working with cross-functional teams
Care and feeding of content contributors and editors
Project management

This year's Friday Focus will be content strategy. Friday's schedule
is a single track of sessions, so we are particularly interesting in
compelling presentations on various aspects of content strategy that
will appeal to the wide variety of attendees at our conference.

What do you get in return?

The majority of our speakers register to attend our conference, and we
provide a discount on the registration cost as compensation for

Selected regular session and Friday Focus speakers will receive up to
a 50% discount on general conference registration fees.*
Selected pre-conference workshop speakers will receive up to a 100%
discount on general conference registration fees.*
All speakers will receive a NAGW speaker shirt.

Join government web professionals from around the nation and
participate in the only national conference for government web
professionals by government web professionals.


Steven Clift -
  Executive Director -
  Tel/Text: +1.612.234.7072

Group home for Newswire - Steven Clift's Democracies Online Newswire:

Replies go to members of Newswire - Steven Clift's Democracies Online Newswire with all posts on this topic here:

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fwd: The Eagle and Battle of the Books

The Eagle

Posted: 11 Mar 2014 06:02 PM PDT
I hope you all remember Elizabeth Uptegraff, the first school librarian of Obama Academy integrated into Peabody’s building. Without her, it’s likely that our two Battle of the Books groups would never have happened.
Last May, Ms. Uptegraff gave me a flier advertising the Battle of the Books. Each school in the Pittsburgh area could submit several groups of four of five members to enter this “reading based” book competition. The book list would be released in November. What a long wait it had been.
I was excited, as thrilled as a nerdy bookworm could be. I just needed to find the other four members, something that took longer than expected. I ran through a number of people, some said they’d stay but left due to time restraints. Our very own Sarah Parker, Executive Editor for the Eagle, opted to join. She dropped out because newspaper is life (winks).
That left us with five members: Zackry Harrison, Hailey Treloar, Jahlia Finney, Krista Caraway, and myself, Tayde McDonald. Amazingly, Krista joined in the last month and was more prepared than the rest of us. We were effectively known as The League of Literary Legends.
The eight books to be studied were as follows:
  1. I Am J by Cris Beam
  2. Everyday by David Levithan
  3. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
  4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  5. Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson
  6. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  7. Out of Nowhere by Maria Padain
  8. Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer

This was only for high school. Middle school’s was:
  1. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  2. How they Croaked by Georgia Bragg
  3. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
  4. Beyonders: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull
  5. Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
  6. Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
  7. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanha Lai
  8. Sillhouetted by the Blue by Traci L. Jones
  9. Poseidon: Earth Shaker by George O’Connor
  10. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

The sixth graders straight up crammed, but they had an amazing time at the event. “They were ecstatic in competing, fist-pumping every time they got something right,” Ms. Sirio says. Their names were: Dominic Victoria, Jaiman White, Jonathon Freeman, and Nathaniel Shuty.
Our studying process consisted of reading the books, rereading them, and then asking each other random, obscure questions worthy of a place in Ms. McKrell’s test booklet. At first I thought we’d be getting thematic questions like in a sort of debate club, but our chosen captain, Ms. Sirio, confirmed we’d be facing trivia (the middle school competition was a week before our’s). So we quizzed ourselves: “What kind of paint did Blue say was safe to eat?” “How did Marcus pass through security detectors?” “What was Ben’s last name?” Questions like these were spewed back and forth each lunch period and during after school. Each of us was committed to heavily studying two books, so they’d be easy to rely on. The most impressive trivia wiz by far was Hailey, who was able to write down the full name of Julia in Code Name Verity – all five of her names in correct order.
In fact, the success of our group is largely due to Hailey’s impressive feat in sparring with a Shadyside student on Code Name Verity. She had a problem with one of the prompts, saying it was actually a trick question. When another student challenged her on the matter, she responded in a way that silenced the judges. They gave everyone a free point on that one, solely for being impressed by a good debate. Anyone who knows Hailey well will know she’s the queen of debate.
That move put us back in the game after worrying about the first round, where we lost 12 points. At the end, it was announced that a tie breaker would be needed, and we held our breaths.
“The teams currently tied for first place are, The Fizzing Whizbees, Gone with the Winchester… and… the League of Literary Legends!”
At the end of the round, we earned second place out of the six teams present.
All hail the Mighty Book Lord, this is how we role! It took months of hard work and passion to earn our certificates, and we made it. I guarantee that we were more than proud to represent Obama Academy in this competition, we were honored.
Our feelings? Pride, joy, and relief. At first I thought how relaxing it would be to no longer have ties to these books, but now I’m sad to let them go. It was a wonderful experience to fight in this competition, but looking at the questions that I couldn’t answer made me realize that I have to improve on character and setting comprehension, my memory falters in that department (wow Tayde that’s like an entire book). Above everything is the determination we feel. This is now an annual event. First place for next year is definitely brewing in our minds.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fwd: You Owe It to Yourself to Learn How to Win

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Campaign for Liberty

I know you understand the power of ideas. But good ideas are not worth anything if they are not put into action. I know you believe this, or you would not be a member of Campaign for Liberty.

In order to help their members put their ideas into action, Campaign for Liberty supports training activists to be effective spokespeople and leaders.

A political insider observed that, “Political success is determined by the number and effectiveness of the political activists on either side.”

Therefore, you really do owe it to your ideas and principles to learn how to become the most effective activist you can be.

To help you become more effective, I want to let you know there will be a One-Day Political Leadership School held in your area soon. (The details are listed below.) I hope you will sacrifice a little of your weekend to be part of this exciting class. I understand it is intense and even fun. I know that if you put just a few of the ideas you will learn into practice, you will help advance the cause of liberty.

I sincerely hope you can attend.

In Liberty,

Rand Paul
U.S. Senator, Kentucky

P.S. I know you care about principles, limiting the scope and power of government, and the power of liberty. Here is your chance to convert our shared passion into action. I hope you will attend the upcoming Political Leadership School in Maryland.

Campaign for Liberty

Dear Mark,

Do you know how to work the legislature, or are you going to be worked over by the legislature... again?

I am confident you understand the power of ideas. But good ideas are not worth anything if they are not put into action.

If you and I are going to spend our time and treasure trying to reclaim the Republic, then let’s do it to win.

The Maryland Campaign for Liberty is hosting a One-Day Political Leadership School on Saturday, April 5, 2014.

Over the last 3 years, this school has trained over 4,000 activists in more than 35 states. Every one of our instructors have years of experience running and winning campaigns and legislative projects in multiple state legislatures. They will share their stories of what works (and what doesn’t) during this information-packed school.

Click here to purchase your ticket.

At this school, you will learn how to create meaningful change and what you must do to be respected and feared by politicians.

You must be at this school!

This intense one-day training covers:
    • The Real Nature of Politics – why just “educating” people alone won’t result in change
    • The Biggest Lie in Politics – and how the political class uses your convictions against you
    • How to Work effectively at the Capitol – getting a bill sponsor and a roll call vote despite the leadership
    • How to Build a Group – putting pressure on legislators
All this and much more!

This class will teach you how to turn your passion into action. I sincerely hope you can attend.

One-Day Political Leadership School Details:

Saturday, April 5, 2014
9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Country Inn & Suites
17612 Valley Mall Road
Hagerstown, MD 21740

*Registration begins at 8:15 AM

Click here to purchase your ticket today.

You owe it to your ideas and principles to learn how to become the most effective activist you can be.

In Liberty,

Theodore Patterson
Maryland Campaign for Liberty

P.S. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the solution! Click here to get your ticket today!

P.P.S. Check out what others have said about this class:
  • "I really enjoyed the school.  I found it simultaneously informative, exciting and revolting." Luke Priest, Iowa
  • "The best activist training I have taken so far.  Political reality is laid out in an easy to comprehend manner.  They don’t just tell you what the problem is; they give you a road map to strike back.  Absolutely a must-do training event."  Talbert Black, South Carolina Campaign for Liberty
  • "The slides and training were extremely informative and educational - your real-world experience and anecdotes really hit home and were relevant to the materials.  It was a pretty intense class - lots of information in a single day, but we got through it!"  Jeremy T. Goemaat, President, LogicBox, Inc. 
  • "Your training is OUTSTANDING.  I'm not one to be able to sit for more than 1 hour at a lecture style presentation, but honest to God, that's the best political training I've ever seen." Jeff Greenspan, Arizona Campaign for Liberty

  • C4L website   Share this on social media   Forward this email to a friend   C4L on Facebook   C4L on Twitter

    Because of Campaign For Liberty's tax-exempt status under IRC Sec. 501(C)(4) and its state and federal legislative activities, contributions are not tax deductible as charitable contributions (IRC § 170) or as business deductions (IRC § 162(e)(1)).

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fwd: The Eagle covers the SAT changes

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "The Eagle" <>
Date: Mar 10, 2014 4:21 AM
Subject: The Eagle
To: <>

The Eagle

College Board changes the SAT for 2016 causing controversy

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 12:08 PM PDT

College Board, the corporation in charge of several standardized tests
including the SAT, recently announced that the SAT will be changed
dramatically for the 2016 testing year.

Changes to the SAT will include the following: The essay will be
optional, and vocabulary will be more relevant to students’ futures.
Reading questions will be short answer instead of multiple choice.
Math will cover fewer topics, but in more depth, and some of the math
will be no-calculator. A quarter-point will no longer be deducted for
incorrect answers, scores will be out of 1600 again instead of 2400,
and there will be digital as well as paper versions of the test
available. Further, the College Board will partner with Khan Academy
to provide test prep to all students for free.

In explaining the reasoning behind the changes, David Coleman,
president of the College Board, admits that standardized testing as it
is currently formatted creates “unnecessary anxiety” for students. “It
is time to admit that the SAT and ACT have become disconnected from
the work of our high schools,” he says. “We do not want to slow
students down. We want to propel them forward.”

Relevance is one important theme to the changes. “No longer will the
SAT only have disconnected problems or tricky situations students
won’t likely see again,” claims Mr. Coleman. The new test will “focus
on words students will use over and over again, that open up worlds to
them.” Mr. Coleman recognizes that “a single brief timed essay has not
historically proved predictive of college success.” He admits that it
is may not be helpful to students that “Today, when we say that
someone has used an SAT word, it often means a word you have not heard
before and are not likely to soon hear again.”

Mr. Coleman’s impressive rhetoric may be obscuring the real reason for
the changes, however. Standardized testing is a multi-billion dollar
industry. The SAT and ACT are widely recognized by colleges and
students as the two most important tests for determining college
acceptance. While colleges have historically preferred the SAT, the
ACT’s market share has been increasing recently. This trend likely
contributed to the College Board’s decision to remake their test.

Whatever the motivation, College Board seems to have it right that
changes are needed. According to an article in Time, “The blunt fact
is that the SAT has never been a good predictor of academic
achievement in college.” Further, students and teachers alike are
frustrated by the stressful testing culture of high schools today.
“I’ve actually taught SAT prep courses in the past. And it’s like
they’re intentionally trying to trick you,” says Obama’s eleventh
grade English teacher, Ms. Papale. “They should at least be giving
people a shot.”

“There are different types of genius,” says Olivia Perfetti of Obama
Academy. She is referring to the theory of multiple intelligences,
developed by a psychologist named Howard Gardner. “There’s artistic
intelligence, and interpersonal, and other types. The SAT makes it
seem like verbal and mathematical intelligence are the only kinds that
are important. Life isn’t just math, reading, and writing, so students
should have an opportunity to show talent in other areas.” Ms. Papale
agrees. She says that the current SAT is “…way too limiting. They
placed way too much importance on vocabulary and certain mathematical

Sidony Ridge, also in eleventh grade, points out that the current
American education system emphasizes standardized testing far more
than that of Finland, which has the best education system in the world.
Finland has very few standardized tests. The Finnish system gives
freedom to the teachers to assess their students in a way that is
relevant to the material being taught. Yet Finland has consistently
been ranked first in the world for various international education

Students also need to keep in mind what is not changing. First, the
SAT will still be standardized. As long as it is equally more or less
difficult for all students, the relative scores will stay the same.
Don’t expect your scores to be radically different on the new test.

Second, the amount that colleges count the SAT for will not be changed
by this announcement. While Mr. Coleman’s statement that high
schooler students face too much stress is helpful, any change in the testing
culture has to come from colleges and universities, teachers and
school administrations, and the students themselves. Some colleges are
starting to count SATs for less, but they are still crucial for
getting into most colleges.

Third, standardized testing has an inherent bias that is impossible to
remove, despite the partnership with Khan Academy. “How can you give
the same test to urban, suburban, and rural students?” asks Ms.
Papale. “They speak differently, have different backgrounds, and
experience life differently.” Grammar may be one of the more biased
components of the SAT. Ms. Papale explains that one of her students,
who is a hard worker and excels with comprehension and insight into
literature, struggles with grammar. This student, who is African
American, lives in an environment where the English spoken has
different grammar rules than those used by the SAT, yet is being
graded against other students whose parents and peers always speak
so-called “proper” English.

This student’s situation is not, of course, unique. Because the
problem is, the tests are trying to use three hours of filling in
bubbles to line up every eleventh grader in America in order of how
well they will do in college. And that is impossible to do accurately.

On the other hand, the changes that College Board is making seem
like a step in the right direction. Ninth grader Lainey Newman likes
the idea of free test prep on Khan Academy. “I think that will be a
valuable tool because all students, regardless of external factors,
will be able to have support and preparation for the exams,” she says.

The first class to be affected by the changes is the class of 2017, or
the current ninth graders. A short-term problem caused by these
changes could be the transition from the old format to the new one.
Olivia, now in eleventh grade, explains that she was glad to have had
help from her older sister in studying for the SATs. “I’m glad that at
least we knew what to do and weren’t the first class to have to deal
with a new test format,” she says.

However, many Obama students are optimistic that the new system will
be an improvement. Many like that the essay will be optional. Mr.
Kocur, the tenth grade English teacher at Obama, feels that this
change makes sense considering that few colleges currently consider
the writing section anyways. Ninth graders are relieved that they will
not have to spend hours memorizing esoteric vocabulary words.

The changes to the SAT may mark the beginning of an important shift in
the nature of testing in America. There is enough evidence against the
current format of standardized tests that the top testing corporation
is responding. We will have to wait until the College Board’s changes
are implemented to see whether it is simply a marketing maneuver, or
whether the change is really a radical break from the past that will
lead to further changes in testing and education.

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Thursday, March 06, 2014

Fwd: New flash... Swimming coverage in the Obama Eagle

From: Lucy Newman
Subject: New flash...
 Team and coach after WPIAL meet, 2014.

Last Thursday and Friday, Yoka Rooney competed in the PIAA state qualifying meet for swimming, qualifying in both the 50 free and the 100 breast.

This year he set two school records in individual races, and was in a relay that set another. He beat the previous best time for a 50 free with a 22.49. Also, he beat his own school record in the 100 breast with a 1:02.

“I feel really good,” he says. “I was surprised, actually. I feel really happy that I’ll get to go at least once in my high school career. And I’m really excited to see the competition that I get to meet at states.”

Yoka’s coach, Mr. Rauterkus, was proud of him, too. “Yoka has always been a valuable team contributor,” says Coach Rauterkus, “but this year, with the extra year of maturity, we got to see what I call, ‘senior speed.’ He is fast, strong and a gifted athlete. Besides swimming he was a starting defensive player on the soccer team, a lifeguard and ran the Great Race.”

Yoka's appearance at Bucknell University's pool marks the fifth consecutive appearance of an Obama or Schenley swimmer at the PIAA CHampionships, says swim coach Mark Rauterkus.

Describing his experience, Yoka says that “The first one, I knew I was going to destroy because the other swimmers in my heat had lower qualifying times than I did. So I just went all out and didn’t breathe the whole time. That was a 50 free. On the 100 breast, I was aiming for 1:03. I beat that, beating my best time by almost two seconds. I was really happy to place.”

Yoka competed in four events, getting ninth place in all four of them. He was somewhat disappointed not to get any medals, which are awarded to the top eight swimmers in each event, so goal is to get a medal at States.

Yoka says that he has not decided yet whether or not he’ll swim in college. Coach Rauterkus says that “Yoka went fast enough at the WPIAL meet to be strongly considered for college swim scholarships. College coaches are approaching me wanting Yoka to visit their schools.” Yoka sees swimming scholarships as a big draw. But he is also a talented and successful soccer player, so he’s trying to leave his options open at this point.

Looking back on his high school career, Yoka has positive memories of the swim team. Last year he was a part of two relays that set all-time PPS records, going faster than the old city league records and faster than any Pittsburgh team in any championship relays in any year ever. “It was a really fun team,” he says. ‘It wasn’t super competitive at first, but in the past two years it has become more competitive, and I really enjoyed that. It’s also just a really healthy sport to be able to do, and it teaches you important leadership skills. I definitely feel like I benefitted from these past four years.”

The PIAA state competition will take place on Friday, March 14 and Saturday, March 15. Best of wishes to Yoka.

More notes:

-- Given his performances, I think Yoka is the best athlete in the school.

-- Yoka beat Tait Williams time in the 50 free from STATES a few years ago when Obama was in the City League. 

-- Our boys 200 medley relay, 1:47.49, school record, had Yoka doing the Breastroke. It had three seniors and a sophomore: Ben Friedman, back; Yoka, breast; Grant Rauterkus, fly; and Tommy Brewton, free. We will miss those three gentlemen for next year's team.

-- Going to the state meet in two events is a huge accomplishment especially with the huge struggles we must navigate with aquatics in the school, with his other sports, activities and jobs. Yoka's appearance at Bucknell University's pool marks the fifth consecutive appearance of an Obama or Schenley swimmer at the PIAA Championships. 

Tommy, Ben, Grant, Yoka.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Fwd: Baran James Special Update: Russia and the Ukraine

--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: The Baran James Company
Date: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Subject: Baran James Special Update: Russia and the Ukraine

20 things you probably don't know about the Russian incursion into the Ukraine
Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Ukraine, as they undergo both an internal political crisis and what appears to be military intervention from Russia. For people of a certain age, the current events, with tanks rolling across the Russian border into a neighboring nation that wants to exercise its freedom, it feels a bit like the Cold War days all over again.
 Whenever we see troop movements and fires raging in the streets of a capitol city the size of Chicago, we tend to get concerned. How will it play out and will it affect our economy and investments here in the United States? We will watch and monitor the situation closely. After yesterday's volatility, the markets rebounded today with strong returns.
 Here are some facts that you might not know about what has, hitherto, been a relatively quiet new member of the world economic community. 
 1) The word "Ukraine" means "borderland" in proto-Slavic. It appears to have acquired this name simultaneously from Poland, Austria and Russia, referring to the territory that sits across the border of so many European nations and Russia. In fact, the Polish referred to their troops stationed in this area as Ukranians--that is, borderlanders. Since the country became independent from the Soviet Union, it is no longer referred to internationally as "The Ukraine."
 2) Ukraine's currency is the hryvnia, adopted in 1996 after the country suffered the greatest one-year bout of hyperinflation in global economic history. (Zimbabwe has since broken the record.) Today, one dollar will buy 9.6 hryvnias. A euro will buy 13.3 of them.
 3) After Russia, Ukraine has the largest military presence in Europe. Ukrainian troops have been deployed as part of international peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Kosovo, Lebanon and Sierra Leone, and has engaged in multinational military exercises with U.S. military forces. NATO has accepted Ukraine as a member pending a national referendum on the matter--which will obviously be delayed until the conflict with Russia has played itself out.
 4) Ukraine has one of the world's most active space programs. The National Space Agency of Ukraine has launched six self-made satellites and a total of 101 launch vehicles. The country also manufactures the An-225 aircraft, the largest aircraft ever built.
5) Due to low birth rates, Ukraine's population is declining at the sixth fastest rate in the world, behind the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Northern Mariana Islands, Niue (an island nation in the South Pacific) and the Eastern European nation of Moldavia, which borders Ukraine.
 6) Nevertheless, Ukraine's largest city, Kiev, has a higher population (2.8 million) than Chicago, America's third-largest city. The population of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city (1.4 million), is greater than San Antonio, San Diego and Dallas, America's seventh, eighth and ninth most populous cities.
 7) According to the World Bank, Ukraine's economy is the 51st largest in the world, ranking just behind Peru and the Czech Republic,a nd just ahead of Romania and New Zealand. But its $7,295 (US) per-capita income (a rough measure of a nation's wealth) ranks 106th in the world, behind Namibia and El Salvador and ahead of Algeria, Micronesia and Iraq.
 8) Ukraine co-hosted the Euro 2012 football (soccer) tournament (with Poland), which is one of the major sporting events in Europe.
 9) Even though the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred in Kiev, Ukraine operates the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
 10) Despite comments that Ukraine is divided between ethnic Ukrainians and Russia, 77.8% of the population is ethnic Ukraine, and only 17.3% is Russian.
 11) Ukraine is known as the "breadbasket of Europe" for good reason. The country is the world's fourth largest producer of barley, 5th largest producer of rye, 11th largest producer of wheat, the 6th largest producer of oats and the 9th largest producer of soybeans.
12) Russia sells approximately 80% of its oil and gas exports to the European Union through pipelines that pass directly through Ukraine. The European Union receives 25% of its oil and gas from Russian sources through these conduits.
 13) Ukraine also happens to be Russia's second-largest customer of petro-fuels.
 14) Russia is drilling for oil in the shallow waters of the Black Sea near the Crimean Peninsula, which shows promise of having significant reserves.
 15) Among others drilling in the same area: Chevron and Shell Oil. If they begin production under the Ukrainian flag, it would significantly undercut Russia's oil and gas market share and prices, simultaneously boosting Ukraine's economy.
 16) When the Russians (as the Soviet Union) invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the U.S. and many Western nations boycotted the 1980 Olympic games, which were hosted in Russia. Is it interesting that Russia decided to move forces into Ukraine immediately AFTER the Sochi Olympics were finished?
 17) Among the most likely responses to the Russian/Ukrainian crisis is the cancellation of the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi. Another possible response might remove Russia from the G8 club. This would embarrass Russian strongman Vladimir Putin at home and isolate him (and Russia's economy) abroad.
 18) Russia's economy could be the big loser in the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis. Share prices for companies based in Russia declined by 10 percent the day after mysterious soldiers took over the Crimean peninsula, also triggering an outflow of domestic currency that Russia desperately needs to invest in modernizing an economy largely (today) based on selling abroad what is pumped or mined out of the ground.
 19) The threat of disruption of trade between Western nations and Russia (either due to sanctions or reluctance to deal with a country that doesn't seem to be focused on following international law) cost the Russian economy $60 billion in a matter of days--more than the total cost to stage the Sochi Olympics.
 20) Let's assume that we are not headed toward a world war. Several commentators have unhelpfully pointed out that the Crimea became the flashpoint for World War I, but the world is somewhat different today. There could be some impact from higher energy prices in Europe if the Ukraine pipelines are disrupted temporarily, but Russia needs to sell its oil and gas as much as Europe needs to buy it. Unless someone is heavily invested in Russian stocks, the crisis will likely be seen as a portfolio non-event.


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