Survey: Students and Adults Ignorant of Basic U.S. History

Survey: Students and Adults Ignorant of Basic U.S. History

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Nationwide survey shows a stunning void in knowledge of history.

A new study by the Libertarian Lexington Institute shows that de-emphasizing U.S. history in American schools’ curricula has brought about “appalling results.” The report, called “The Teaching of American History: Promise and Performance,” analyzes data collected from an American Revolution Center (arc) survey conducted in December.

The arc’s study shows that 83 percent of Americans failed a basic test on the American Revolution. The average test score was 44 percent.

Of the 1,001 American adults surveyed, over half mistakenly attributed the Karl Marx quote, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” to either Thomas Paine, George Washington, or Barack Obama.

A full 60 percent of the respondents knew the number of children in reality tv’s Gosselin family, while only 11 percent could identify the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

More than a third of the Americans surveyed did not have even a basic understanding of historical chronology, believing that the American Revolution occurred after either the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, or War of 1812.

Many more Americans knew that the song “Beat it” was written by Michael Jackson than knew that the Bill of Rights is part of the Constitution.

While the arc report focused on American adults, a 2006 study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress studied students, and proved that the knowledge gap begins at early ages. Only one quarter of American elementary, middle and high school students surveyed were deemed “proficient” in U.S. history at their grade level.

Robert Holland, the author of the Libertarian Lexington Institute’s report, said that “the consequences of such lapses are far more grave than doing poorly on the historical portion of a Trivial Pursuit game. The success of our democratic republic depends upon citizens who believe in a common set of ideals as originally expressed in the founding documents.”

Holland identified the 1960s and 1970s as the time when the focus in American history began to shift away from traditional subject matter—such as the founders and the Revolutionary War—and toward less central subjects like “women, racial/ethnic minorities, and immigrants.”

“Whatever might be said for or against a broadening of the study of history,” Holland said, “there is no doubt that the sharp switch led to declines in knowledge of the founding of the American republic, its enduring principles, and its accomplishments.”

Considering that the U.S. has pumped over $800 million into the special Teaching American History program in recent years, the evidence this study presents is particularly alarming. But what—if any—is the real danger in an educational system that produces students and adults ignorant of history?

In January 2006, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry called attention to the tendency of modern schools to de-emphasize history in their curricula:

Today we hear many academic voices telling people that learning history is of little or no value. This is an extremely dangerous trend that may be too entrenched ever to correct.This educational plague is rampant among the American and British peoples. It seems that few of our leaders understand what a colossal disaster it is!

As the zeitgeist of political correctness continues to obscure and erode America’s global identity, we should expect traditional history to be de-emphasized more and more in our schools. Our imbalanced educational approach will weaken the integrity of the nation, and leave entire generations ignorant of and vulnerable to the dangers history warns against.

For more on the true value and necessity of studying history, read Mr. Flurry’s article “Learn From History—or Perish.”

Give, and Your Heart Will Follow

Give, and Your Heart Will Follow

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A law that can change your relationships

The other day my daughters each received a small toy. Within a short few hours, the youngest of them had lost hers. When she realized it, she began to cry. Her sister then said something to her that left me pleasantly shocked: “That’s okay—you can have mine.”

Such spontaneous generosity is not habitual in this child. But I watched as she handed over the toy, and she was genuinely happy to give it—even more than her sister was to receive it.

Why do we give gifts? Why give to our children, or spouse, or other family or friends, or someone in need? Generally it is not to try to get something in return—to secure some right to the other person’s gratitude. We give simply for the pleasure of giving. It is, after all, more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Living the give way simply makes us happy.

But giving also does something else to us—something more specific. That’s because of a remarkable dynamic set in motion when we obey God’s law.

Jesus Christ instructed us to lay up treasures not on Earth, but in heaven. He explained the profound reason: “For where your treasure is,” He said, “there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34).

This is an extraordinary truth. Our heart tends to follow our treasure. Wherever we give some physical thing—and not just our money, but even our time or energy—we tend also to commit simultaneously something more precious: a little piece of ourselves.

We see this rule in action with our tithes and offerings. God doesn’t need our money; He could provide for His work any number of miraculous ways. But He instructs us all to commit our treasure to the work. Not only does this instill in us a habit of generosity that develops our character and makes us more like Him, the great Giver (James 1:17)—but it also draws our hearts into His work. We take on a more committed mindset toward God’s plans and ambitions, His activities today, and how they are preparing for the future.

If you think about it, that act of giving actually helps us to loveGod more. That is what God desires most of all.

In ancient Israel, God sought to lay claim to the hearts of His people the same way. He commanded that the Israelites offer regular sacrifices. There were daily, weekly, monthly and annual offerings, and others for certain special occasions. Obviously God didn’t have any practical use for the animals and other food and drink offered to Him. His goal in having the Israelites give was to change their thinking—to turn their hearts toward Himself.

There is a clue to this truth even in the word sacrifice. In Hebrew, one word for sacrifice is olah. This word is also translated in the Bible as “ascent” and “go up to.” It means a step, or stairs ascending. This word transforms the image of the smoke ascending from the burnt offering into a beautiful metaphor: It is as if the smoke is a stairwayleading the offerer to God.

Another word makes this point more literally. The word is korban. It is usually translated “offering” in the Old Testament, and appears extensively throughout the books of Leviticus and Numbers referring to the Israelites’ sacrifices.

As Daniel Lapin brings out in his book Buried Treasure, the root of korban (Strong’s 07133) is the Hebrew word karab (07126)meaning to approach, or bring near or close. Karab is variously translated “come near,” “draw near,” “be at hand” and “join.” What a lovely word, referring to a sacrifice for God! The similar word karob (07138) actually refers to a personal relationship or kinship.

When an Israelite brought an offering to God, it brought him closer to God. Surely God was pleased with the act, but that wasn’t the primary reason He commanded it. Presenting korban to God—the act of giving—made the giver feel closer to his Creator, more than the other way around. He was committing his treasure to God, and so his heart followed.

Note how this law plays out in your life. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. If you invest your money, time and energy into your family, your heart will follow. If you give to and sacrifice for your marriage—even if you don’t “feel like it”—then you’ll find that physical act actually leading your heart into a deeper love. Your obedience to the way of give, even in a physical sense, will set in motion the wheels of love.

Anciently, when an Israelite made a sacrifice to God, it helped him love God more. Likewise, when a husband gives to his wife or sacrifices for her, it helps him love her more.

By the same principle, if you are constantly making sacrifices for your employer, that doesn’t make him feel closer to you nearly as much as it makes you feel closer to him. Your heart follows your treasure. Over time you may then find yourself making greater and still greater sacrifices for your work. This may or may not be a good thing.

So consider this practical wisdom. If you want to make your love toward someone grow a little, give that person a gift. If you want to make your love grow a lot,sacrifice for him or her.

Maybe there’s someone you are thrust into regular contact with that you have a hard time relating to. Perhaps one of your co-workers really gets under your skin. Try it out: Give him something; make a sacrifice for him. Not to turn his heart to you—but yours to him! Give, and see if it doesn’t draw you nearer to him. It may not solve the problem completely, but you can be sure it will improve your attitude.

If you had an argument with your spouse in the morning and you’re feeling resentful, do the counterintuitive thing. Pick up a bouquet of flowers on your way home from work. The next time you see her, rather than giving her the lecture you’ve been rehearsing all day, give her a gift she may actually appreciate. Whether or not she does, you’ll find that your sacrifice has done a lot to dissolve your own hostility. Now you are in a far better position to restore harmony to your marriage than you otherwise would have been.

Commit your treasure, and your heart will follow. Don’t wait until you “feel love” before you give or sacrifice. Give and sacrifice—and love will grow.

Eurofighter Typhoon trounces F-15 in war simulation

Nato air forces recently carried out several training engagements known as dact, Dissimilar Aircraft Combat Training. These competitions pit pilots in various aircraft against each other to see how the various craft measure up.

In this test case, the Eurofighter Typhoon proved to be far superior to the F-15.

The 111 Squadron of the Spanish Air Force was deployed for training against the 493rd Squadron of the U.S. Air Force. The Spaniards deployed a total of six Eurofighter Typhoons. America sent F-15 variants. The trial took place near Gando Air Base, Gran Canaria. The results were startling.

Two Eurofighters managed to destroy a formation of eight F-15s. The first Eurofighter managed to “shoot down” four F-15s, while the second quickly disabled three.

According to the Eurofighter press office, the Spanish commander of the 111 squad reported that the Eurofighters “enjoyed full control of the engagement,” even though the numerically superior F-15s played the role of attacker.

U.S. Air Force enthusiasts will be quick to point out that the F-15 is an older aircraft—built during the 1980s—and that it would have been surprising if the Typhoon had not proved superior. Had the F-22 Raptor been deployed, the results might have been different.

However, the F-22 is a bit of a non-argument when it comes to the defense of America. Last June, the Senate voted to mothball the F-22 production program. Over $60 billion was spent developing, building and maintaining the 187 planes that have been made. The F-35, America’s next fighter won’t reach full production until 2014.

The reality is that for now, the 614 F-15s (and its 1,262 F-16 siblings) remain the backbone of America’s air defenses. But it is a backbone that is more exposed than most people would admit.

For more on America’s rapidly aging air force, read “Gray Hairs: America’s Aging Air Force.”

Gray Hairs: America’s Aging Air Force

Gray Hairs: America’s Aging Air Force

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The U.S. Air Force is invincible—or so many think. But will age, that unseen enemy, soon leave it outgunned and outnumbered?

At the outbreak of World War ii, Britain was shocked to find its air force inferior to Germany’s. Churchill reported that British leaders had critically underestimated the number, production rate and technological advancement of Germany’s military aircraft industry. While Germany had stealthily built a completely modern air force, Britain was in large part still relying upon old World War i models. Along with other neglectful nations, Britain saw its air fleet cut apart at the onset of the war.

The United States could soon find itself in a similarly dangerous position.

On January 12, the Air Force revealed that the midair collision of two F-16s last year was due to a combination of pilot error and equipment malfunction. A radar failure distracted Capt. Nicholas Giglio, diverting his attention from correcting his mistakes, leading to his death.

Although pilot error was found to be the primary cause, the tragedy highlights a perilous problem facing the country.

America’s Air Force is rapidly aging.

The situation is so critical that America’s entire F-15 fleet was grounded during parts of 2007 and 2008 due to a spate of problems.

The current U.S. Air Force is the oldest in usaf history. According to the Air Force Times, the average plane age in the fleet is 24 years old. Many transport and refueling tankers are in excess of 40 years old, and current plans don’t provide for replacements until they are 70 to 80 years old. By 2013, the average fleet age is expected to rise to 29 years. Contrast those numbers with the air fleet’s average age of only 8.5 years in 1967.

Lt. Gen. David Deptula, a former fighter pilot who now serves as the head of intelligence for the Air Force, reported in 2007 that his son flies the exact same F-15 as he flew back in the late 1970s. Deptula warns that the graying Air Force may be facing a “crisis.”

usaf former Chief of Staff Michael Moseley concurred. “The F-15s and F-16s were designed and built in the late ’60s and ’70s. Some of them were produced up until the early ’80s. But they’ve led a pretty hard life. … In the F-15 case, we’ve got the airplane restricted to 1.5 Mach. It was designed to be a 2.5 Mach airplane. We’ve got it limited on maneuvering restrictions because we’ve had tail cracks, fuselage cracks, [and] cracks in the wings” (Defense Industry Daily,March 30, 2008).

Moseley says the maneuvering restrictions are affecting unit preparedness, and likens it to practicing for the Indy 500 by driving at 60 miles per hour—then accelerating the car to 200 miles an hour on the day of the race.

“It is not the time to be doing that on game day,” he says. Moseley worries about the health of the aging fleet and feels that the seriousness of this issue is “not well understood by those our airmen protect.”

The F-15s were supposed to last until 2025, but after 17 years of almost continuous use in the First Gulf War, the Balkans, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wear and tear is taking its toll. Most people don’t drive cars that are even 17 years old, let alone operate computers that are that age. The F-15’s average age is 25 years. When you start accounting for corrosion issues, metal fatigue, structural components not built to spec, and multiple computer upgrades and electrical rewirings over the years, it is easy to see why the F-15s are starting to have so many problems.

Much of the rest of America’s aircraft, like the F-15, are also simply getting old and wearing out. The F-16 “Fighting Falcon,” the lightweight, less-expensive companion to the F-15, for example, has an average age of over 17 years. But the problem with the F-16 is that it was not designed for a long service life. Now, after heavy use, it also is approaching the limits of its life expectancy, according to Lexington Institute’s Loren Thompson. The 1,280 of these aircraft in service make up the bulk of America’s fighters. Outside of the F-15 and F-16 models, the Air Force’s fighter fleet would be left with just 91 F-22s. The F-22 is a fifth-generation fighter. Although it is far more advanced than the F-15 or F-16, current plans call for the eventual procurement of only 183 units. F-22s currently cost about $135 million each, while F-15s and F-16s originally cost just $15 million and $10.2 million respectively (approximately $45 million and $30 million in today’s dollars).

The U.S.’s transport and refueling tankers are also earning a reputation as flying death traps. Old flying behemoths such as the C-130 and KC-135 are regular causes of concern for the Air Force. After cracks were discovered in the wing boxes of older C-130s, the Air Force grounded many of those transports. In fact, many planes on Air Force inventories are considered too risky to fly at all except in emergencies. In these cases, once a month the engines are fired up and the planes are pulled around the tarmac to keep the tires from going flat.

All told, only two thirds of the service’s aging fleet is available to go up in the air at any time. For the F-15s and F-16s, the mission-capable rate stands at only 74 and 76 percent respectively.

“This can’t go on,” Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne warned back in 2007. “At some time in the future, they will simply rust out, age out, fall out of the sky. We need, somehow, to re-capitalize this force.”

And as America’s Air Force ages and wears out, it is sucking in greater and greater amounts of resources to keep it flying.

Maintenance costs increased by 38 percent from 1996 to 2006, and maintenance man-hours increased 50 percent compared to hours of flying time. The workload for heavy repairs at aircraft depots was up a whopping 41 percent.

Wynne says that when you add up the rate at which the fleet is aging, the rising maintenance costs, personnel cutbacks and the prices of new equipment, it means one thing: Air Force America is “going out of business. It is simply a matter of time.”

Probably the most amazing aspect of the graying Air Force is that the U.S. spends more money on its armed forces than the whole world combined! But even with the hundreds of billions spent each year, the average aircraft age is heading into the atmosphere—on afterburners. Being the world’s policeman, fighting terrorism and continual wars for the past 19 years is taking its toll.

The signs are everywhere, and not just in the Air Force: America’s military is aging. The Navy and Coast Guard are in similar situations. America’s heavy ice-breaker fleet is down to three operational vessels, two of which are approaching the end of their operational cycles. The Coast Guard is sailing many 30- and 40-year-old ships and even World War ii-era vintage vessels including the 65-year-old cutter Acushnet, whose propeller separated completely from its shaft in December 2007. Because of the ship’s age, no off-the-shelf spare parts were available; the fixes had to be custom built.

Increasing amounts of money and resources are needed just to maintain these war machines, and these are costs the American economy has not had to bear in the past on any sort of large scale. The problem is, America doesn’t have the money. All levels of American society—federal, state, local, corporate, personal—have unsustainable debt levels. America is broke—most just don’t realize it yet.

Hosea, talking to ancient Israel, warned that Ephraim’s military and economic might had largely faded, though the tribe was ignorant of it: “[Y]ea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.”

Today, gray hairs are on America. Its age as a superpower is nearly over—America’s waning air superiority is just one example. New powers are destined to rise in Europe, China and Russia, and the Middle East—so says your Bible. For proof, read The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

The Pope Destroys Catholicism’s Left Wing

The Pope Destroys Catholicism’s Left Wing

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The Catholic Church is ready to burst onto the political scene in Europe.

For years Pope Benedict xvi and his predecessor John Paul ii worked quietly to move the Catholic Church to the right. Last week, that was largely achieved as Benedict appointed one of his disciples as the new archbishop of Brussels.

As of 1999, “the liberal bloc in the European church had long been led by three towering cardinals: Carlo Maria Martini of Milan, Basil Hume of Westminster … and Godfried Danneels of Brussels,” wrote John Allen Jr. in the National Catholic Reporter. Last week, Danneels became the last of these three to go.

His replacement is André-Mutien Léonard—known as “the Belgian Ratzinger” because of his right-wing views.

As rumors of Léonard’s appointment circulated last week, Allen Jr. wrote that if they were true “the changing of the guard at the senior levels of the European church will be virtually complete” (emphasis mine throughout).

“By Catholic standards, the facelift has been remarkably swift,” he wrote. “In Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi followed Martini in 2002; in Westminster, Archbishop Vincent Nichols took the reins from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor last April, who had succeeded Hume in February 2000. Now it seems that Léonard, 69, is poised to arrive in Brussels.”

The liberals have been booted out of power. Their replacements have been more centrist Catholics—until the appointment of Léonard on January 18.

Allen Jr. said that “By some accounts, Léonard may represent a more dramatic change in tone” than Tettamanzi or Nichols. Bert Claerhout, editor of the Catholic weekly KERK&Leven (Church and Life), said that the choice of Léonard is clearly a conscious choice for a totally different style and approach: for more radical decisiveness rather than quiet diplomacy, for more confrontation with the secular society instead of dialogue, reconciliation and the quiet confidence that the tide will ever turn.

Belgian politicians are taking note, and fear clashes with the Vatican’s new man in Brussels. “Church and state are separate in Belgium, but when there are problems in our society, all the social partners sit down around a table, including representatives of secularism and of religion,” said Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx. “Cardinal Danneels was a man of openness, of tolerance and was able to fit in there. Archbishop Léonard has already regularly challenged decisions made by our parliament.”

As his nickname would suggest, Léonard is a man Benedict can trust. Allen Jr. wrote that the appointment of Léonard reflects “a tendency under Benedict xvi to entrust important assignments to people with whom he’s personally familiar.” Léonard worked with Benedict on a couple of occasions, including when Benedict was the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the modern name for the old Office of the Holy Inquisition), the office entrusted with the universal enforcement of Catholic doctrine.

The Catholic Church has been working quietly behind the scenes to influence the EU for years. But the Vatican has made very few public pushes for power in Europe. Why?

Part of the answer is that the Catholic Church is accustomed to operating in the shadows. But also, the Vatican may have been biding its time while it maneuvered all of its pieces into position. Today, there are no powerful liberal voices left in the Roman Catholic Church in Europe. Benedict can now go on the offensive, without having to worry about dissension within the most senior and influential ranks of the church.

The Catholic hierarchy is now arrayed for battle. Watch for the Vatican to push for more power within the EU. The Catholic Church has already pushed to have Sunday worship enshrined in EU law, but so far has been unsuccessful, though it is embodied in the law of the church’s traditional protector, Germany. Perhaps its efforts will now be redoubled.

Although the Catholic Church has been successful since World War ii operating in the background, the past few years have seen the more affluent nations of Western Europe, in particular, become less committed as practicing Catholics and more secular. (On the other hand, the ex-Soviet satellite countries, since release from under the Soviet bootheel, have flocked back to the Church of Rome.) Governments in the traditionally Catholic countries of Spain and Portugal have angered the church with their leftward drift. Both have liberal laws on homosexual “marriage.” Spain has made divorce easier and has repeatedly tried to liberalize abortion laws. Yet even in these countries, where over 80 percent of the population is Catholic, the church has done little more than organize popular protests.

But now the Catholic Church may be about to stand up and confront secular Europe. Men like Léonard certainly want to.

If the Vatican has indeed been waiting while it consolidated its power, then it will now move quickly to recover lost ground. Watch for the Catholic Church to explode onto the European political scene.

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