"Virtue gives birth to tranquility, tranquility to leisure, leisure to disorder, disorder to ruin… and similarly from ruin, order is born, from order virtue, from virtue, glory and good fortune." -- Niccolò Machiavelli

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The most recent results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) highlight a concerning trend for U.S. students in the field of math.

In comparison to their counterparts in other industrialized nations, American students are falling behind. The rather sobering results revealed a 13-point decline for U.S. students when compared to the 2018 exam.

In stark contrast, 28 countries and economies managed to either maintain or improve their 2018 math scores, with countries such as Switzerland and Japan leading the way—and leaving the United States in the dust. These considerably more successful nations share a number of common characteristics, including, most notably of all, shorter school closures during the pandemic, as noted in the report.

Obviously concerned by the findings, the Defense Department has called for a new initiative to provide support for education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). As The Hechinger Report reported, China, the United States’ biggest rival, has eight times the number of college graduates in these disciplines compared to the United States, while Russia, another major foe, has four times the number of engineers. This alarming disparity, noted the Hechinger Report piece, has prompted concerns beyond the realm of education. The United States’ mathematical failings pose a direct threat to its technological supremacy.

Other commentators have gone a step further. Falling math scores, they suggest, should be viewed as a national security threat. They’re right.

Mathematics plays a critical role in various fields such as the physical sciences, technology, business, financial services, and infrastructure. For instance, geometry, algebra, and trigonometry are fundamental parts of architectural design. Moreover, math plays a significant role in medicine, AI, and quantum computing. Math serves as the foundation for virtually all scientific and industrial research and development. Essentially, mathematics can be seen as the underlying operating system that makes the world go round.

Which begs the trillion-dollar question: What can be done?

The math problem is an education problem. To correct the problem, the manner in which math is taught must change—radically and rapidly.

Other countries have different approaches to comprehending, appreciating, and teaching math. Take the aforementioned Russia, for example.

Chris Dooly, a youth mentor and writer, has discussed the concept of “Russian Math.” Although it lacks a concrete definition, he writes, educators and historians generally agree that it revolves around the idea of developing proficiency in mathematics through an understanding of abstract mathematical concepts. Instead of just focusing on rote learning, this type of math is more holistic in nature, factoring in the overall mental development of students. Math instruction is used to enhance children’s intellect and character.

Claire's Observations:  Unfortunately, many  American teachers have no clue how to teach math in an organic way; the only way they know how to teach, is through rote learning, which bores the heck out of most kids, and makes it totally not fun.   Looks to me like American public schools need some "math interventions" by teachers who can make it really connect for the kids. But looking at how many schools are unionized, many teachers are terrified that the non-union teachers are better able and better equipped this way, and won't even let them come up the school steps, let alone inside, because they are afraid of the competition.  That has to change, and right the heck now.

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The United States has vetoed another United Nations Security Council resolution on the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, rejecting calls for an immediate cease-fire.

The U.S. has proposed its own draft, which it says would support delicate diplomacy toward releasing hostages taken in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel.

The draft resolution that Algeria proposed would have demanded an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 31 in favor and the United States against. The United Kingdom abstained.

The resolution came after more than four months of war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza and whose attack in Israel killed 1,200 people, according to Israel's government. Israel's military offensive since then has killed more than 29,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.

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Interest payments on the US national debt will eclipse defense spending in 2024, grim new projections show. 

Federal debt is at a historic high, having hit a staggering $34 trillion earlier this year. 

Interest payments on this debt are now the fastest growing part of the federal budget, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office

They jumped above Medicaid last year, and will rise above defense and Medicare later this year. The former is health coverage for people with limited income, and the latter is mostly for over-65s.

It means by the end of 2024, interest payments will be the second largest government expenditure. Only Social Security will be a bigger cost

Claire's Observations:  this is fiscal insanity,  writ large, folks; and it does not appear that the Dementocrats have anything approximating a "fix" in sight.  I guess they are very comfortable with this being the case during an election year, but I will be darned if I can figure out why.  And unfortunately, the Republicans are not coming up with much help either.

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A concerning pattern has surfaced in recent weeks as prominent CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos have significantly reduced their portfolio holdings. 

Bill Gates has followed suit, as evidenced by his recently disclosed filing, which unveiled a lengthy list of stocks divested from his portfolio, leaving behind only shares deemed to hold substantial value.

Bill Gates portfolio activity. Source: Punjab Capital

Bill Gates portfolio activity. Source: Punjab Capital

Within the extensive roster of stocks, certain ones are presently viewed as possessing substantial value, while others are experiencing an upward trajectory. This prompts speculation about whether Gates is privy to information unavailable to the public.

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Statistician and writer Nate Silver raised multiple concerns for President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign on Monday, saying that Democrats appear to have no plans to address the issues. 

In his “Silver Bulletin” newsletter on Monday, the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of polling analysis site FiveThirtyEight wrote that his outlook on the potential rematch between 81-year-old Biden and former President Donald Trump, 77, has significantly changed since a year ago. Silver circled Biden’s age and his refusal to sit down for big interviews, such as the traditional Super Bowl interview, as top concerns for his campaign. 

“If you’d asked me a year ago, I would have told you that Joe Biden was a reasonably clear favorite in the event of a rematch against Donald Trump,” Silver began, adding later in his article that in recent months, “Biden’s situation has become considerably worse.”

Webmaster addition:  I guess the dems think it's easier to steal another election!

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The hosts of ABC’s “The View” weighed in on what seems to be an increasing probability that the 2024 presidential election will be a rematch of 2020’s Donald Trump versus Joe Biden, and what a potential debate between the two might look like.

As they went around the table during Monday’s broadcast, the cohosts offered a series of suggestions regarding debates — ranging from cohost Sara Haines calling for Trump (but not Biden) to be censored in real time to Whoopi Goldberg wishing that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had kicked Trump in the crotch during their 2016 matchup.

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Watchdogs questioned how Black Lives Matter (BLM) spent its money last year. The organization has raised millions of dollars since its inception all in the name of fighting racism.

BLM has its hands in various cookie jars as it works to further its causes while constantly raising money. What watchdogs uncovered is that it appears one hand is feeding the other when it comes to BLM finances.

Questions surround the political action committee (PAC) associated with the primary BLM organization. Federal Election Commission (FEC) records showed that BLM spent the majority of its 2023 expenses paying the consulting firm owned by the treasurer of the PAC.

From the Daily Caller:
Black Lives Matter PAC paid $90,000 to Bowers Consulting Firm in 2023 for “strategic consulting services,” according to FEC disbursement filings. Shalomyah Bowers is both the treasurer of Black Lives Matter PAC and the founding president of Bowers Consulting Firm.

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How about we take a close look at the 2nd amendment to the Bill of Rights?  And not just a cursory look, but rather an honest, critical, deeper look.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

It does not say “A well regulated Standing Army being necessary to the security of a tyrannical state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall always be infringed.”

Well-regulated means to run smoothly, be disciplined, and be well-supplied. Militia means the body of people consisting of lawful citizens in a free state of existence. Security means to keep safe. Necessary means needed, essential Free state, meaning the collective of states, the whole nation. The right means those essential liberties that all people have regardless of government.

The people, the lawful citizens in a free state of existence, To keep, meaning to own and possess And bear, meaning to carry on or about one’s person either open or concealed.
Arms , meaning weapons Shall not, meaning must not, will not be infringed, meaning restricted, retarded, or suppressed in any way whatsoever.

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According to Russian officials, Navalny, 47, lost consciousness after taking a walk at the Arctic penal colony where he had been serving a 19-year prison sentence for allegedly inciting “extremist” activities and other offenses. An outspoken foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Navalny won fans around the world including Hollywood celebrities and government leaders of all political persuasions.

Biden immediately blamed Putin for Navalny’s passing while admitting the cause of death remains unknown. “[Make] no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” Biden said during a hastily arranged press briefing on February 16. Putin, Biden continued, “had him arrested. He had him prosecuted for fabricated crimes. He sentenced him to prison. He was held in isolation.”

Well, what a difference a few weeks makes. Biden clearly suffers from a faulty if not fantastical memory but are his mental faculties so poor that he has forgotten the past few years—let alone the past few weeks?

Is this the same Joe Biden who has publicly vilified his own detractors for more than three years? The same Joe Biden who continues to deploy the country’s most powerful government agencies and corporations to hunt down, investigate, interrogate, arrest, charge, and imprison Americans for their participation in the events of January 6, 2021?

The same Joe Biden who routinely brands his countrymen as “insurrectionists” and “domestic terrorists” because they protested his election for a few hours that day?

The same Joe Biden who recently bragged about the success in creating his own set of political prisoners? Did Biden happen to forget his remarks at Valley Forge on the third anniversary of January 6? 

Here is a helpful refresher:

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A wave of confusion and concern washed over Nevada voters this weekend when many discovered that their mail ballots were registered as counted for the February 6 presidential primary despite not having participated.

The 8 News Now reported that these irregularities in voter histories prompted an immediate response from the Secretary of State’s office on Monday.

The issue was first identified on Sunday when voters began noticing discrepancies in their voting records.

“On Sunday, February 18, the Secretary of State’s Office became aware of possible technical issues related to the vote history of individuals who did not participate in the Presidential Preference Primary,” a spokesperson told 8 News Now.

“Elections and IT staff began working on the issue immediately, and met with county clerks and registrars this morning. We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible, and will provide further updates as we can.”

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