04 21 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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  • Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about 'high stakes' tests   
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Joy, tears and excitement were on display at Multnomah County last Thursday, when the Londer Learning Center held a graduation ceremony for its GED class of 2013. 

This year the center celebrates its 20th year of helping corrections clients pass the GED exam and go on to build careers and attend college.  And, for the first time ever, the graduates wore caps and gowns, thanks to a fundraising effort by Ezekiel Stroschein, a former inmate who worked as a GED tutor for other inmates while serving time in an Oregon prison.

Ezekiel Stroschein and Michele Dishong McCormack at the Londer Center graduation

Judge Henry Kantor

In 2011, Stroschein saw an article on the Londer Learning Center graduation.

"It caught my eye, but it really caught my eye because they didn't have caps and gowns," Stroschein says. "And our department didn't have the funds available for caps and gowns either. It brings such meaning to the graduation to have them, so I wondered if there was a way we could get caps and gowns."

Stroschein was studying for his associate's degree from Chemeketa College through the College Inside program. In one of his final classes, communications instructor Michele Dishong McCormack asked students to complete a service learning project.

Stroschein proposed raising money for caps and gowns for inmate GED graduates and Londer students. Within a month, his group had raised close to $1,300, most of it from inmates. The group donated 40 caps and gowns to Londer graduates and 21 to graduates from Oregon State Correctional Institution.

"It really touched my heart because the guys who gave weren't in school, and they didn't have much money. But they really wanted to help and support the graduates," Stroschein says.

The ceremony brought families, friends, supporters and county staff to honor the graduates for their achievement in passing the seven-hour GED exam. All the graduates had to overcome steep barriers to achieve academic success.

Many students brought children and families, who watched with pride as their parents received diplomas.

Graduate Myldred Sylvia urged her fellow students to continue their journeys toward success. Graduates are eligible for a free year of college.

"Go out there and live lives of impeccable rectitude and integrity," Sylvia said.

Stroschein says that's exactly what he is trying to do.

"When I got incarcerated, I told myself I really wanted to be a better man when I came out so I wouldn't make the same mistakes," he said. "So it means a lot to me to get my degree and get my life back on track to become a pro-social member of society instead of a menace."

Released from prison on April 26, Stroschein spoke at his own graduation from Chemeketa, Tuesday evening. Now, he's working as an assistant to criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Dickey, his partner of 10 years. But he made sure to take time to attend the Londer Learning Center graduation, where he shared his story with the graduates.

The GED exam will be changing at the end of 2013, so anyone working toward a GED should aim to finish it this year, to avoid losing any credit they already have earned. Contact staff at Londer for referral to one of many special programs across the city available this summer to help you pass the test this year. For more information, contact Londer Learning Center at  503-319-1899

Other speakers at the graduation included: Judge Henry Kantor; Truls Neal, assistant director of the Department of Community Justice, Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen; Multnomah County Commissioners Deborah Kafoury and Loretta Smith, Carl Goodman, retiring assistant director in the Department of Community Justice, and Londer Center manager Carole Scholl.

Judge Kantor spoke about the value of education and what he'd learned from his mentor, attorney John Ryan, who co-founded the Londer Learning Center with Judge Donald H. Londer.  He said Ryan's love of books and reading influences him to this day. Ryan's widow, Virginia Ryan, also was at the ceremony and helped present the awards.

Jaymes Young-Liebgott, Christopher Walker and Nikki Callahan received honors awards for scoring 650 or higher on average across the test.  Jim James  and Myldred Sylvia were honored for excellence in attendance and for putting in more than 300 hours to prepare for the test.

Center photos of the graduates are: Nicholas Wright, Amber Bertrand and Sandra Morrow.

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