Malaysian Airlines Atrocity: 10 Ways the US Should Respond to Russia’s Role in …


Evidence is mounting that Russian-backed insurgents in eastern Ukraine were responsible for the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane, with the loss of 298 lives. This was an act of barbarism by separatists who are armed, funded, and trained by Moscow. It follows from Russia’s illegal invasion, occupation, and annexation of Crimea and its attempts to dismember eastern Ukraine through fighting a proxy war against Kiev.

Moscow must be held to account for its role in this atrocity, which further underscores that the Russian reset is dead, as well as for its actions on the ground in Ukraine. The United States should respond by establishing a new long-term strategy to deal with a hostile and aggressive Russian regime, one that protects its vital interests against the irresponsible and illegal actions of Moscow while strengthening the NATO alliance. The U.S. should pursue the following actions as part of that strategy.

1. Withdraw from New START

New START is a fundamentally flawed treaty that dramatically undercuts the security of the U.S. and its allies. It is an extraordinarily good deal for the Russians, as it significantly limits Washington’s ability to deploy an effective global missile defense system. It does nothing at all to advance U.S. security while handing Moscow a significant strategic edge.

2. Be Prepared to Isolate Moscow Diplomatically

Washington should be prepared to expel Russia’s ambassador to Washington and deny American visas to all Russian government officials and their family members if Moscow continues to facilitate acts of aggression in Ukraine and refuses to accept responsibility for its involvement in the Malaysian Airlines atrocity.

The U.S. could enforce a 25-mile travel restriction on officials assigned to the Russian mission to the United Nations in New York. Similar restrictions could be imposed on Russian officials assigned to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington, D.C.

3. Exclude Russia from the G20 Summit in Australia

Moscow should be treated as even more of a pariah on the world stage. Russia has already been suspended from the G8. The U.S. should rethink future Russian participation in the G20, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the Community of Democracies.

In the immediate term, the U.S. should work with Australia to exclude Russia from the upcoming G20 summit to be held in Brisbane, Queensland, in November. Washington should also work with allies in Europe to pressure FIFA, the soccer’s world governing body, to withdraw the World Cup from Russia, where it is due to be held in 2018.

4. Increase Military Cooperation with NATO Allies

In light of recent Russian aggression, the Department of Defense should prioritize U.S. training missions in Central and Eastern Europe. The Pentagon and NATO should immediately begin to review and update contingency defense plans. These plans should deliver a suitable, credible, and actionable conventional defense of NATO member nations.

The U.S. should temporarily deploy military assets necessary for protection of its allies in Central Europe and boost the number of U.S. military training facilities, including in Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltics.

5. Uphold the Missile Defense Commitment in Europe

Central and Eastern European countries view NATO’s ballistic missile defense system as a fundamental part of the alliance’s defense. It is essential that the Administration uphold missile defense commitment to America’s allies in Europe, especially after its loss of credibility following the abrupt cancellation of the third site in 2009.

6. Reverse the Closure of U.S. Bases in Europe

President Obama should halt base closings in Europe and pledge a firm commitment to America’s military presence across the Atlantic. It is time for NATO to scrap the 1997 agreement with Russia, which limits the basing of NATO assets in Central and Eastern Europe. This would demonstrate U.S. commitment to transatlantic security and offer more opportunities for joint military training.

7. Provide Assistance to the Ukrainian Government

Ukraine does not enjoy the security guarantees afforded to NATO allies, but the U.S. has several military options available that do not include the immediate deployment of American forces into Ukraine. The U.S. military and its allies have the ability to provide the legitimate, democratically elected government of the country appropriate assistance to restore the stability of the country and ensure public safety.

The U.S. should buttress Ukraine’s military planning and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities so that the best possible picture of this rapidly evolving crisis can be assembled and appropriate actions determined and implemented as effectively as possible. For example, it is appropriate for the U.S. to deploy teams of military planners to work with Ukraine’s general staff. Supplies, equipment, or small arms should be sent only with some measure of confidence that the materials would help stabilize Ukraine’s situation and not simply fall into Russia’s hands or those of Russian loyalists.

8. Pressure NATO Allies to End Military Cooperation with Russia—Especially Spain and France

Some NATO members continue to provide Russia with military support. Spain allows the Russian navy use of its ports, and France is selling two amphibious assault ships to Russia. French and Spanish support to the Russian navy weakens NATO’s opposition to Russian aggression against Ukraine and projects an image of a divided alliance.

The U.S. government should make it clear at the highest levels that it views any support to the Russian navy in terms of equipment sales and port access as completely unacceptable in light of Russian aggression.

9. Lift Restrictions on Energy Exports to Europe

President Obama should back the lifting of restrictions on the export of natural gas and other forms of energy to U.S. allies in Europe. Much of Russia’s power in Central and Eastern Europe is the result of its control of energy supplies and distribution systems. Reducing energy dependence on Russia would dramatically weaken the economic grip Moscow has on parts of Europe and reinforce the position of NATO allies.

Diminishing Russia’s economic leverage over the region should be a key component of America’s response. This could largely be accomplished simply by liberalizing global energy markets. The U.S. has antiquated and unnecessary restrictions on exporting liquefied natural gas and crude oil, and lifting these restrictions should be a priority.

10. Expand the Target List of Russian Officials Under the Magnitsky Act

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act denies U.S. visas to and places financial sanctions on Russian officials and individuals guilty of human rights violations. Currently, only 30 people linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been sanctioned.

The Obama Administration needs to go significantly further. Washington should implement a greater range of targeted sanctions aimed directly at Russian officials responsible for violating Ukrainian sovereignty, including freezing financial assets and imposing visa bans.

Send a Clear Message

The U.S. should send a clear message to the Kremlin that its actions in Ukraine are unacceptable. Putin’s actions in recent months have made it impossible to consider Russia a responsible nation or suitable partner for the U.S.

—Nile Gardiner, PhD, is Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, at The Heritage Foundation. James Jay Carafano, PhD, is Vice President for the Davis Institute and the E.W. Richardson Fellow. Dakota Wood is Senior Research Fellow for Defense Programs in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy of the Davis Institute. Luke Coffey is Margaret Thatcher Fellow in the Thatcher Center.

About the Author

Nile Gardiner, Ph.D.

Director, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom

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James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow

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Science was rigorous for Tasmanian World Heritage listing

Contrary to a recent assertion, the scientific assessment of Tasmania’s World Heritage area was protracted and rigorous.

IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT Mark Poynter, in his attempt to establish that politics rather than science has determined the World Heritage decision in favour of the Tasmanian forests, fails to focus on the science and instead attacks the people providing the science. In the familiar sporting aphorism, he plays the man not the ball.

As one of those whose credentials are questioned, I can briefly refer to my lifetime of expertise as forester, conservation scientist and heritage assessor, advising governments, international institutions, the private sector and organisations.

For the record, my 40-plus-year career in forests and conservation has included the past 25 years advising on most aspects of World Heritage both in Australia and in South-East Asia, Papua New Guinea, the Middle East, Japan and South America. It is for this well recognised professional expertise and experience that I am retained, not for any political position.

Now to the science and the detail of the World Heritage processes which Mr Poynter does not seem to understand. All nominations to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee whether for new sites or additions to sites must be formulated in accordance with the scientifically based ‘Criteria for the Assessment of Outstanding Universal Value’ and in addition must meet the relevant Conditions of Integrity.

The Commission of Inquiry into the Lemonthyme and Southern Forests in the 1980′s, a host of subsequently published papers and more recently the Independent Verification Group all provided valuable scientific contributions to the formulation of the 2013 nominated additions. Scientific data and observations were not limited to the tall forests alone but included documentation on a diversity of attributes including archaeological, Aboriginal cultural sites, karst, fossils, caves, endangered species and rare and threatened plant communities.

Contrary to Mr Poynter’s assertion, the concept for extension of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) to include a continuous tract of tall eucalypt forest and adoption of an appropriate eastern boundary was being progressively formulated long before the Tasmanian Forest Agreement 2012 and was informed by a wide range of proposals, heritage values, documentation and other considerations.

The Forests Agreement, not surprisingly, picked up and included this proposal within its terms. Mr Poynter in this and previous articles, frequently refers to the 2008 World Heritage Centre field mission to Tasmania but omits to note that, notwithstanding the reservations and findings of the mission, the World Heritage Committee, at its meeting in Quebec later in 2008 (32 COM 7B.41) considered that report, but resolved to advise Australia that it “Reiterate(s) its request to the State Party to consider, at its own discretion, extension of the property to include appropriate areas of tall eucalyptus forest, having regard to the advice of IUCN…”.

The rejection of additions proposed by the field mission played up by Mr Poynter actually emerged as a reiterated invitation to Australia to nominate additional tall eucalypt forest. Always better if you get the full story. The Committee takes its scientific advice on natural heritage from International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Australia took up that invitation and by 2013 had assembled a nomination dossier that met requirements, including, importantly, the ‘conditions of integrity’.

Again contrary to Mr Poynter’s contention, the 2013 nominated additions to the TWWHA were not misrepresented as ‘minor amendments’. The Committee’s operational guidelines do not specify a minimum area for what constitutes a minor amendment though IUCN, the official advisory body to the Committee for natural heritage suggests 10 per cent as a guideline. While the nominated boundary change slightly exceeded this guideline, it was accepted because the lands included had been the subject of ongoing scrutiny and deliberation by IUCN and the World Heritage Committee, plus the Committee had invited such additions. It also included an existing national park (Mount Field) that had previously been flagged for addition. The Australian submission was responding to the World Heritage Committee invitation to consider an extension “….having regard to the advice of IUCN…” and that was done.

Longer than 10 minutes

As is the case with all additions, the 2013 nominated additions were subject to assessment and advice to the World Heritage Committee by IUCN and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). In the Phnom Penh World Heritage Committee meeting in 2013 reviewing the Australian extension submission, Committee members were briefed on the merits of the additions proposed and none disputed the Australian case for listing.

Before the Australian request to remove the extension area was considered at the Doha meeting of the World Heritage Committee, it had been scrutinised in detail by IUCN and ICOMOS and in May they recommended refusal.

The test for any removal which the 2014 decision was required to meet is that it must be “[a modification] which has not a significant impact on the extent of the property nor affects its Outstanding Universal Value.” Given the evidence before IUCN and ICOMOS, the proposed delisting had no chance of meeting this test.

The IUCN advice and the World Heritage Committee decision to refuse removal of the extension reflected that it would result in the delisting of outstanding stands of pristine tall eucalypt forest, much of it old growth; loss of ecological connectivity; removal of more than 24 Aboriginal cultural sites, including an ice-age archaeological site; removal of glacial landforms, karst, caves and critical habitat of endangered species – all documented – all of which would have had a serious impact on the integrity of the World Heritage Area.

Tasmanian forests: where politics trumps science

Peter Hitchcock’s article is in response to a recent opinion piece from Mark Poynter. Read the original here.

Similarly, boundary integrity would have been seriously impacted. Many of the values at risk were the same scientifically documented attributes and values that contributed to the case for the listing of the extension in the first place in 2013.

None of the Committee member delegates that I consulted with in Doha in 2014 had any doubts about the World Heritage values of the 2013 additions or that the proposed delisting would have a serious impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the TWWHA.

While the formal process for the World Heritage Committee to unanimously reject the Australian Government submission was brief, occupying less than 10 minutes of the formal meeting time, it was obviously preceded by the members having already considered and taken into account all the material and advice before them during the preceding weeks, including advice from IUCN and ICOMOS.

In response to comments on his article, Mr Poynter has already conceded he was wrong in his claim that “Further exemplifying the political interference is that the disputed areas of the TWWHA extension were listed before they had been declared as national parks. This is a first in Australia…” Anyone familiar with World Heritage process would be aware that this is incorrect. Any number of land parcels in Australia that were not national parks has been listed as World Heritage and there is certainly no requirement for declaration as a national park.

For example, in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area there are around 300 freehold properties. The Australian Government’s demonstration that any lands are protected and will be appropriately managed is the relevant prerequisite. Instead of a personal attack on the professional integrity of myself and others involved in this process, Mr Poynter would do well to understand the actual processes of the World Heritage listing and review system which is rigorous and based entirely on science and professional assessment, not politics.

Peter Hitchcock is an environmental consultant and a member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Article source:

OAS hails Unesco’s addition of Inca Road to World Heritage Sites list

July 17, 2014


Representatives at the Organization of American States say that the project is example of international cooperation in South America.

(Photo: Peru21)

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza welcomed Unesco’s decision to include the Qhapaq Ñan in the World Heritage list, as it shows Incas’ genius and reminds us that unity of Americas is not just a political slogan.

In a press release issued by the hemispheric organization, Insulza said “this reality is reflected today in the joint efforts of Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador that culminated in this announcement.”

During the last Permanent Council meeting, OAS member countries celebrated the inclusion on the Unesco list of World Heritage sites of the Andean road system Qhapaq Ñan, which crosses six members of the organization.

Permanent Representative of Peru to the OAS Juan Federico Jimenez explained that, “thanks to the Qhapaq Ñan, the Incas were able to join the great historical, natural and cultural diversity of the territory that today is part of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.”

“This is a recognition of these six countries historical richness, joined historically by this system of roads, that was crossed a complex geography along the ridge of the Andes, with monumental pathways and thanks to the management of Incas construction techniques,” said Ambassador Jimenez Mayor.

Upon the announcement, Unesco explained the decision, saying “this extraordinary network through one of the world’s most extreme geographical terrains, linked the snow-capped peaks of the Andes to the coast, running through hot rainforests, fertile valleys and absolute deserts.”

The organization noted the inclusion emphasizes “the social, political, architectural and engineering achievements of the network, along with its associated infrastructure for trade, accommodation and storage, and sites of religious significance.”

The Qhapaq Ñan, which means in Quechua “royal road,” is some 5,200 kilometers long, and reaches from Quito to Tucuman, in Argentina. Although some parts lie beneath cities today, a large area of the enormous network remains passable.

Connecting Cusco with all of its territories, the Qhapaq Ñan eased communication with the many peoples of the empire, and served as a means of integration as much political as administrative, socioeconomic, and cultural.

Among other cities, the route passes through Lima, La Paz, Cochabamba, Santiago and Salta. Its most famous stretch, known as “the path of the Inca,” connects Cusco with Machu Picchu, and attracts lots of tourists annually.

This is the first time six countries have presented a proposal to the World Heritage Committee, and was the result of a process that lasted more than ten years, and in which the cooperation between the six OAS member states was critically important.

Together with the Qhapaq Ñan, Unesco added to the list of now 988 World Heritage Sites the Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey in Germany, and the Ancient Maya City and Protected Tropical Forests of Calakmul, Campeche.

During the meeting, the Peruvian Ambassador presented a video showing the historic and cultural value of the Andean road system.

Article source:

Peru: concern as Machu Picchu opening hours could be extended

But any increase in visitor numbers could result in the deterioration of the
Lost City of the Incas. A proposal to build a new airport close to the site,
able to cater for planes as large as the A380, is going ahead despite
similar concerns.

Chris Moss, who wrote our essential
guide to South America
, said: “Peru
should be thinking about other regions, other trails, other sites, both Inca
and non-Inca – Choquequirao, Moray, the Huaca del Sol, to name just three –
and looking to reduce the overall visitor numbers for Machu Picchu.

“More boots on the ground will lead to deterioration of the steps and walls,
lawns and footpaths, and probably a need for more vigilance and protective

“Longer hours won’t mean fewer people in the current opening hours but more
demand all over. It’s like widening a motorway. More cars come, that’s all.”

Larger tour operators say that their partners in Peru are waiting for official
news that the proposed times will go ahead.

Stuart Whittington, Journey Latin America’s head of product said: “Details
remain sketchy and it’s not clear whether the reported new opening times
have been agreed.

“The current opening times are from 6am – for those early-risers who want to
enjoy the magical solitude of Machu Picchu in the early hours – until 5pm,
which is ideal for catching an early evening train back to the Inca city of

He was one of those who wondered about the impact that any extension of the
opening hours, and subsequent increase in visitor numbers, would have on the

“We would be very concerned about any changes which would damage the cultural
heritage and environment of this sublimely beautiful Machu Picchu, one of
the ‘new seven wonders of the world’,” he added.

“As ever, the team at Journey Latin America is working closely with our
partners in Peru to keep abreast of the plans”.

Unesco – the body that grants heritage status to historic sites and works to
preserve them – said that it could not comment on the new hours unless the
issue has first been the subject of a decision by the World Heritage

A conservation report issued for the committee in 2012, however, recommended
that it should consider adding Machu Picchu to the list of world heritage
sites in danger.

It said that the 2,500 visitor limit had been exceeded on “numerous occasions”

“The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recognize that there are
many challenges that have not been successfully met,” the conservation
report said, “including the uncontrolled development at Machu Picchu
village, the increase in visitation, and continuing problems with visitor
access, among others.

“They consider that the intention to increase the number of visitors to the
property would further exacerbate existing problems.”

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Mesa charter school teaches religion, group says

A national group that advocates for the separation of church and state is criticizing one of Arizona’s oldest charter schools for using books that include controversial religious teachings in a 12th-grade history class.

Two books by Cleon Skousen, who is often cited by right-wing talk-show host Glenn Beck and the “tea party” movement, are required reading for seniors at Mesa-based Heritage Academy.

Skousen, a controversial figure who was prominent in the anti-communist movement of the 1950s and 1960s, wrote that God inspired America’s Founders to pen the Declaration of Independence, fight against British rule and develop the U.S. Constitution.

Two of his books, “The 5,000 Year Leap” and “The Making of America,” are required reading at Heritage.

The academy’s founder says one of the school’s missions is to give students a deep understanding of history and introduce them to classic works by authors that range from Benjamin Franklin to Anne Frank.

“Our purpose is not to convert students to different religious views,” Heritage founder and Principal Earl Taylor said. “It is to show them that religion influenced what the Founders did.”

OPINION: Distorted book is bad history, poses its own tyranny

Taylor said the Skousen readings would be scaled back in the coming school year, but because of workload, not because of the complaints.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit group, says that requiring students in a public charter school to read Skousen is illegally teaching religion.

“These books push ‘Christian nation’ propaganda and other religious teachings on impressionable, young students,” said Alex Luchenitser, associate legal director for Americans United.

The D.C. group first sent complaints to the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools in late 2013, demanding that the school stop using Skousen’s books.

State charter-board officials say Heritage Academy is not breaking any laws by using the writings in an advanced history class. The board closed its investigation in April.

Americans United renewed its complaint last month.

Academic lessons

Religious books, including the Bible, may be used in public schools as long as they are part of an academic class and not a religious lesson, said DeAnna Rowe, executive director of the State Board for Charter Schools.

She said it is not the role of the charter board to dictate which books a school may or may not use in its curriculum. School officials in Arizona select books, not state officials, she said.

“Our focus is on whether the school is upholding the mission it describes in its charter,” Rowe said.

She said Heritage’s mission is clear.

“Just as we have schools with a math and science focus or an arts focus, this charter school has a history focus.”

Taylor said his decision to scale back on the Skousen books had more to do with workload.

“The total of the two books is about 1,200 pages,” he said in an e-mail interview. “It is a lot to require the students to go through that much material. I decided to stay more with the historical quotes, leaving out a lot of the commentary and letting the students discuss the quotes, draw their own conclusions, and thereby making it more meaningful and applicable to them.”

Seniors also read parts of the “Federalist Papers” and writings of early legal scholars and philosophers William Blackstone, John Locke and Montesquieu.

The complete Skousen books will be added to a list of recommended books that include Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl,” “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Lincoln-Douglas Debates” and Edward Gibbon’s “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”

Other books that explore spiritual themes on the recommended list include C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity,” Fritjof Capra’s “The Tao of Physics” and Patrick Kavanaugh’s “The Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers.”

Heritage opened as a private school and became a public charter school in 1995. In the coming school year, Taylor expects to enroll 650 students at its Mesa campus, 250 students at a campus in Queen Creek and 300 students at a campus in Laveen.

Heritage earned an A in state rankings in 2013 based on student performance on state tests.

Taylor said Skousen’s books are used to teach its students, who have a variety of faiths and beliefs, how religion influenced the thoughts of America’s Founders — not to teach religion itself.

Arizona Republic columnist EJ Montini and opinions digital editor Joanna Allhands discuss whether charter schools should have more regulation over their curriculum.

The Skousen story

Skousen, who died in 2006, has supporters and detractors.

In the 1940s, Skousen, a conservative Mormon, worked as a clerk and then as a special agent for the FBI. In the 1950s, he joined the faculty of Brigham Young University, where he taught religion. He is best known for his books, which denounce communism and call the creation of America a divine miracle.

“The 5,000 Year Leap” was published in 1981 but soared in popularity in 2007 after Glenn Beck brought listeners’ attention to it. In the book, Skousen asserts that more progress has been achieved in the last 200 years or so — since the founding of America — than in the previous 5,000 years of every other civilization combined.

“I beg you to read this book filled with words of wisdom which I can only describe as divinely inspired,” Beck wrote in a forward for the 2009 edition of the book.

Christina Botteri, a spokeswoman for the California-based National Tea Party Federation, said “The 5,000 Year Leap” is considered a handbook of tea-party ideals. The book inspired her to become involved with tea-party politics.

“I am holding a copy of ‘The 5,000 Year Leap’ in my hand,” she said. “Early on in the movement, people would carry it around and talk about it.”

Botteri said “The 5,000 Year Leap” does talk about the religious views of the Founding Fathers, but she does not believe discussion of history can be separated from the religions of the people living at the time.

Gene Dufoe, a member of the Red Mountain Tea Party in east Mesa, said Skousen is “well-known among tea-party members.”

Dufoe said he sees nothing controversial in “The 5,000 Year Leap.” He said the book explains “why has this country produced 25 percent of the world’s wealth with only 5 percent of the world’s population and why is much of the world’s population trying to get to America to succeed.”

Legal and historical experts have mixed reactions to the use of Skousen in classrooms.

One critic is Ernie Lazar, a California researcher who specializes in studying America’s extreme-right wing. Lazar says Skousen must be read with skepticism because he has been known to fudge details about his career with the FBI, making it sound like he was more of an expert in anti-communism efforts than he was.

“Most of his FBI experience was in administrative matters, juvenile-delinquency research and speeches, and being a liaison with police department training schools along with general public-relations matters,” Lazar said in an e-mail. “He did no research while in the FBI on subversive activities or on the communist movement.”

Garrett Epps is a writer, legal scholar and law professor at the University of Baltimore who has poked holes in Skousen’s philosophies.

“Skousen’s account of the growth and meaning of the Constitution is quite inaccurate,” he told The Arizona Republic in an e-mail interview.

“Parts of his major textbook, ‘The Making of America,’ present a systematically racist view of the Civil War. … A long description of slavery in the book claims that the state (of slavery) was beneficial to African Americans and that Southern racism was caused by the ‘intrusion’ of northern abolitionists and advocates of equality for the freed slaves,” Epps said.

Epps said he believes that “any student taught from these materials in a public institution is being subjected to religious indoctrination” and “is also being crippled educationally and will be ill-prepared to take part in any serious program of instruction of American government and law.”

However, two Arizona State University history scholars say Skousen’s books are more benign.

Eduardo Pagan, a history professor and vice provost for academic excellence and diversity, called Skousen’s writings innocuous. He would not mind their use as a tool for showing students how religious thinking shaped the minds of America’s Founders.

He said Skousen’s books present an idealized view of the United States, reflecting the pride and patriotism of many Americans immediately after World War II.

“They read like books out of the 1950s,” he said. “They are no more harmful than that.”

“I can think of more injurious ways of interpreting the past,” Pagan said.

Donald Critchlow, an ASU history professor and director of the university’s new Center for Political Thought and Leadership, said Skousen’s books work in a 12th-grade history class that includes other writings.

“Skousen clearly has a patriotic agenda,” he said. “I don’t see explicit teaching of religion but a patriotic interpretation of the Constitution. Placed within the larger context of the reading list, I did not find a problem.”

Critchlow added that students who complete the Heritage reading list would “read more history than the average high-school student or even a college student.”

Hugh Hallman, superintendent of Tempe Preparatory Academy and Tempe’s former mayor, said he also is not troubled by Heritage’s use of the Skousen books. His college-prep charter also aims to expose students to a wide variety of non-fiction and literature.

If schools had to stop using all books that mention God, Hallman said, they would have to stop teaching Greek mythology, he said.

“The point is to challenge students’ minds so they can learn to think,” he said.

The complaint

Luchenitser, with the D.C. group, said he kept Heritage’s reading list in mind when writing the letters demanding that the school drop Skousen.

“The two (Skousen) books, however, are mandatory readings that indoctrinate particular religious beliefs,” he said. “They have no place in a public-school curriculum.”

He said Americans United, founded in 1947, would consider a lawsuit against Heritage if it does not drop Skousen from its curriculum.

The non-profit was one of several plaintiffs in the 2005 Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District case, in which a U.S. District Court judge in Pennsylvania struck down a school-board policy mandating instruction about “intelligent design” in a public-school science class.

Religious textbooks at Heritage Academy

“Intelligent design” is the theory that life, or the universe, did not come about by chance and was designed by God or an intelligent entity.

Asked whether Taylor’s plan to reduce the amount of Skousen readings solves the problem, Luchenitser said no.

“If Heritage Academy still provides the two books to students, uses them as textbooks in their history class … and recommends that students read the books in their entirety, they will still be promoting particular religious beliefs to students,” he said.

Taylor said he has no plans to completely drop Skousen’s writings.

“We are complying with state law,” Taylor said.

Investigating complaints

Here is the process the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools uses to investigate complaints:

• Charter-board staff sends a letter to the charter-school representative asking for a response to allegations in the complaint.

• The charter’s response is reviewed to determine whether the school’s actions are supported by board policy and/or are within the limits of the law and the charter contract.

• The charter board staff may:

— determine that no violation occurred or that the violation has been corrected.

— require the charter school to cease practices that take it out of compliance and provide documentation of its actions to correct the violation.

— implement required corrective action and potentially withhold funds until compliance is demonstrated.

— refer the matter to the Arizona Attorney General’s Fraud Unit or other entity.

Source: Arizona State Board for Charter Schools

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Pensacola’s role in World War I

The global conflict that was idealistically called “The War to End All Wars” coincided with a new era for Pensacola’s military heritage in 1914. Although the war ended four years later, the bond that this community forged with the military remains.

“The first contingent of Naval aviation candidates arrived in January 1914, and by 1917 the infrastructure and methods for preparing pilots and others needed were in place,” said John Appleyard, a Pensacola historian who has been chronicling his hometown’s role in the war.

“It almost seemed as though fate favored Pensacola when World War I began and then brought the United States into the conflict. The community had hosted a Navy yard from 1826, but it had been declared obsolete and closed in 1911,” Appleyard said.

The war boosted Pensacola’s long-term role in Naval aviation and contributed to an important period of growth as a port and shipbuilder.

But in August 1914, when the war began in Europe, pitting iconic empires against each other, Pensacolians and most other Americans paid only slight interest. Instead, the big news hereabout that summer focused on the failures of the Bank of Pensacola and what was then First National Bank.

“When war began in Europe, the Pensacola business climate remained optimistic,” says Appleyard’s lengthy research paper, which he may pursue as a book. A relative calm prevailed locally. Indeed, the citizenry could rejoice that there hadn’t been a serious fire since 1905. Further, the legal system operated competently, without, as Appleyard noted, “recent recurrence of the lynchings of 1908-09.”

Meanwhile, a new electric streetcar system offered convenience. Europe’s war seemed far away.

Calm before the storm

Pensacolians, like other Americans, received their share of propaganda from Great Britain and France, but also from their German enemies.

“Even as war clouds darkened for the United States, the local population sustained a rising social life,” Appleyard wrote. The 1917 planning for Pensacola’s version of Mardi Gras was lauded by its promoters as “the best ever.” Lodges and social clubs such as the Knights of Columbus and Masons had growing memberships. The new Rotary Club boasted more than 60 members.

Also by 1917, the new Motor Sales Company on Palafox Street was selling Chevrolets for $550. Anderson Motors advertised Fords for $300.

All this calm before the storm of war gave little hint of the commitment Pensacola would soon make. The area’s involvement included 1,869 men and women serving in the Army, Navy and Coast Guard. Of the 824 Pensacolians who served in the Army, 11 died and 30 were wounded.

A total of 520 served in the Navy, and nine were reported dead. No information on branch’s wounded is available.

But in early 1917, with President Woodrow Wilson about to start his second term, the LN Railroad was advertising round-trip tickets from Pensacola to his inauguration for $30.45.

By March 1917, news accounts gave rise to new concern and awareness about American ships being sunk by German U-boats. On April 4, Wilson sent a war resolution to Congress, which approved it a vote of 373 to 50. The Pensacola City Commission quickly voted its support of Wilson’s action.

Yet neither Pensacola nor the Navy here was prepared. Appleyard wrote, “there had been no recruiting campaign, men began flooding officials seeking to enlist. With no prepared plan, the Navy began housing the recruits in the Masonic Hall, and the halls of the Knights of Columbus and Odd Fellows.”

Congress passed the first selective service legislation since the Civil War in May. Pensacola leaders focused on practicality close to home: city and county commissioners voted resolutions asking residents to “Plant All You Can” as potential food shortages became a worry.

Pensacolians responded patriotically. Two thousand men soon registered for the draft from an area population of about 42,000. To promote enlistments, a large public barbecue was staged at Pensacola Beach with the slogan, “Don’t wait to be drafted. Enlist now.”

Near the end of April 1917, the Navy announced that 100 aviators would leave for European assignment, led by Lt. Kenneth Whiting. The Pensacola YMCA backed them with the slogan, “We’re with your boy over there.”

Local commerce continued to show strength despite the war. In June, a new Studebaker car dealership opened.

With less fanfare, prostitutes became a growing presence. Appleyard wrote that “some teenage girls” were attracted to Pensacola by the “arrival of young Navy men.” A police sweep resulted in the arrests of more than 150 women, Appleyard’s research found, and “arrangements were made to be sure most left the city.”

As reports during the summer of 1917 that America’s share of the fighting overseas had intensified, the enthusiasm for military enlistment eroded, and law enforcement arrested 85 men who who refused or did not appear as required for their induction physical exams.

Also in August, the base that is now Pensacola Naval Air Station elevated the numbers of men to be trained in balloons; 16 were scheduled for that month. By the end of 1917, nearly 500 men had been designated as fixed-wing aviators at the base.

In the civilian community, commercial messages attracted attention in the fall of 1917. Appleyard found that the BB Restaurant offered a 50-cent Thanksgiving dinner, and two shops marketed oysters at 75 cents per hundred. Clutters Music House priced basic pianos at $150.

“By March 1918, Pensacolians were fitting well into the wartime pattern,” Appleyard wrote. “A new class of draftees was being examined, and the first black men were being called, examined and readied for camp.”

Later in 1918, the Naval Air Station was named the service’s “advance flying school.” The base also became involved in designing and building new aircraft. Training expanded to aerial gunnery, bombing, navigation, photography, signaling and radio, among other specialties.

The armistice ending the war was signed on Nov. 11, 1918. But by then, Pensacola Naval Air Station had expanded from 40 officers and 239 enlisted men to 438 and 5,559 such personnel respectively. The number of planes at the base grew to 215 from 39. And 921 aviators had been trained.

“From the initial training death in 1914 to the end of the war, there were 25 men killed in flight” at the base, Appleyard wrote. Of those, 18 came in the war’s final 10 months amid greater pressure to speed up graduations.

Pensacola’s culture had been changed forever, Appleyard said.

“The songs of wartime gradually faded from memory,” he wrote. “Uniforms were stored away, and for all who returned there might be profit from lessons learned.”

Among those, Pensacola and the Navy confirmed they could count on each other.

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Ancient Incan Road System Named World Heritage Site

An ancient Incan road system that crosses through six Latin American countries has been granted World Heritage status by the United Nations cultural agency, Unesco.

The 23,000 kilometre-long road network is known as Qhapaq Nan and extends through Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. It traverses the continent’s lush rainforests as well as the snow-covered peaks of the Andes, reaching an altitude of more than 6,000 metres above sea level in some spots.

Archaeologist, Leonel Hurtado told media the trail had been used for centuries.

“Before the motorway, the entire population of Soletambo de Wachi and the Wachis castle used the Inca trail to get to the lower areas of Pomachaca and Wari. They would take their products to sell and then they would return to their homes in the same way,” said Hurtado.

According to Unesco project co-ordinator, Nuria Sanz, the road system received unanimous approval from the committee meeting in the Qatari capital Doha.

The Peruvian Culture Minister, Diana Alvarez-Calderon was very happy with the new title especially considering the sheer size of the area that the trail covers.

“The Qhapaq Nan is an Inca Trail that was declared as a world heritage site by Unesco. This route covers about 60,000km (37282 miles) and was declared as part of the Andean road that goes through Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. They are six countries which is one of the largest titles that Unesco have given out,” commented Alvarez-Calderon.

Qhapaq Nan was built by the Incans over centuries to facilitate communication, transport and trade, said Unesco.

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