Islamic State Beheads a Second American Journalist, Warns of More Executions

Kelsey Harkness /

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, reportedly claims to have beheaded a second American journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff.

A video of the execution was made public by jihadist monitoring organization SITE Intel Group. ISIS also threatened the execution of British hostage David Cawthorne Haines, sending a tweet today that read:

#IS Beheads Steven Joel #Sotloff, Threatens to Execute Briton David Cawthorne Haines

— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) September 2, 2014

James Carafano, vice president of foreign and defense policy studfies at The Heritage Foundation, called the Sotloff beheading, “despicable and beyond the pale.”

He told The Daily Signal:

“ISIS has committed countless atrocities since the invasion of Iraq began. Every one of them, including this act, is despicable and beyond the pale,” he said.

Carafano added, “The president was wrong to characterize this as a humanitarian mission — this is a war against a regime every bit as brutal as any that has ever appeared on the face of the earth.”

>>>Q&A: Should the U.S. Bomb ISIS Targets in Syria?

Sotloff, a freelance journalist who worked for Time magazine and other publications and also spoke fluent Arabic, was abducted a year ago in Syria. Last week, his mother sent a message to the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, asking him to “please release my child.”

The video released by the Islamic State titled, “A Second Message to America,” closely resembles the footage of American journalist James Foley’s beheading last month.

Sotloff is seen in an orange jumpsuit while his executioner threatens President Obama with future attacks: “…just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”

The executioner added:

“We take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone.”

Carafano said this will not be the last atrocity committed by ISIS against America and its allies. He told The Daily Signal:

“In this part of the world honor is power, and ISIS will do everything possible to show it can strike back even as it loses ground. There already has been an uptick of terrorist attacks in Baghdad and other key cities.”

Carafano warned that “time is not on our side” in the war against the Islamic State and said the best way to bring justice, peace and security to the region is to help the Iraqi people take back their country as quickly as possible.

“That has to be job No. 1,” he said.

U.S officials have not yet confirmed the authenticity of the video. Sotloff’s family has been made aware of the situation and is requesting time to grieve.

Parents of Fallen Navy SEAL Voice Outrage at Obama in Emotional Letter - Daily Signal

Parents of Fallen Navy SEAL Voice Outrage at Obama in Emotional Letter

Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness /

Billy and Karen Vaughn, the parents of a Navy SEAL who died in combat, recently called President Obama’s handling of terrorism “cowardly” and suggested he step down from office.

Billy Vaughn visiting Aaron at Arlington Cemetery on Father's Day 2013.

Billy Vaughn visiting Aaron at Arlington Cemetery on Father’s Day 2013.

“Please vacate the people’s house and allow a man or woman of courage and substance to seize the [reins] of this out-of-control thug-fest,” they wrote in a letter addressed to the president.

Vaughn4

Billy and Karen’s only son, Aaron Carson Vaughn, was one of 30 Americans killed in August 2011 when his Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. Aaron was a member of SEAL Team Six, which is best known for taking out Osama bin Laden earlier that year in May.

Vaughn2

Vaughn3

Citing the on-camera execution of James Foley, an American photojournalist beheaded by the Islamic State, the Vaughns had some harsh words for Obama’s handling of the terrorist network.

As you bumble about in your golf cart, slapping on a happy face and fist-pounding your buddies, your cowardly lack of leadership has left a gaping hole—not only in America’s security—but the security of the entire globe.

Obama’s actions, they added, “cost lives.”

Vaughn7

>>> James Foley’s Life in Pictures: ‘A Man of Incredible Bravery and Courage’

In the letter published Wednesday on World Tribune, the Vaughns also listed a number of “unprecedented national security leaks” that have occurred under the president’s watch:

“…The outing of SEAL Team VI on the [bin Laden] raid, the outing of the Pakistani doctor who provided the intelligence for that raid, the outing of Afghanistan’s CIA station chief, and the outing of your personal ‘kill list’ to make you look tough.”

In addition, they pointed to statistics listed on icasualties.org, which state that 75 percent of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and 83 percent of Americans wounded-in-action have occurred while Obama’s was in office.

First and last Vaughn family photo with Aaron. Taken just weeks after Chamberlyn was born and the week before Aaron left on deployment.

First and last Vaughn family photo with Aaron. Taken just weeks after Chamberlyn was born and the week before Aaron left on deployment.

Vaughn10

The Vaughns, who have been outspoken on their views of the president, concluded with a harsh critique of Obama’s categorization of the Islamic State – or ISIS – as “JV.”

And now, we have this recent, heinous event: the beheading of an American citizen by a barbaric organization you foolishly referred to as ‘the JV team’ in your statements to the New Yorker magazine in January. You, sir, are the JV team. It’s time for you to step down and allow a true leader to restore our honor and protect our sons and daughters.

Vaughn's last day with his daughter, Chamberlyn.

Vaughn’s last day with his daughter, Chamberlyn.

Read Billy and Karen Vaughn’s full letter to the President here.

More Evidence of Lois Lerner’s Liberal Bias - Daily Signal

More Evidence of Lois Lerner’s Liberal Bias

Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky /

The Daily Caller has obtained an email that provides more stark evidence of the liberal bias of Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the heart of the agency’s targeting of Tea Party and other conservative organizations that applied for tax-exempt status.  Although Lerner was hypersensitive about political activity by conservatives, she appears to have taken almost no action after being notified that labor organizations were failing to inform the IRS about millions of dollars of political spending.

Labor unions, which are classified as 501(c)(5) organizations under the tax code, are required to file a Form 990 tax return with the IRS.  In Part IV of that form, unions are asked whether they engaged in “direct or indirect political campaign activities.”  If so, they have to prepare a detailed schedule outlining those activities, including the amounts spent on such activities.

The U.S. Department of Labor also has a similar type of annual financial form.  Labor unions with over $250,000 in receipts have to file an LM-2 Labor Organization Annual Report.  Item 51 on that form requires a union to report the amounts spent on “Political Activities and Lobbying.”  The explanation that accompanies the form says that includes all “direct and indirect disbursements to all entities and individuals … associated with political disbursements or contributions in money.”  Just like the IRS Form 990, unions have to prepare a detailed schedule outlining the disbursements. Indeed, my Heritage colleague James Sherk notes that “the Labor Department largely followed the IRS’s definition of ‘political activity’  when it updated its union transparency regulations.”

According to the Daily Caller, Lerner received a complaint in 2007 pointing out that a number of unions were reporting large amounts of political disbursements to the Labor Department, yet reporting no such expenditures to the IRS:

“In 2006, the year leading up to Lerner’s email, the national headquarters for the AFL-CIO reported no direct or indirect political expenditures with the IRS on their 990 form, leaving the line 81a blank. That same year, the AFL-CIO reported $29,585,661 in political activities with the Department of Labor.

“Also in 2006 the Teamsters Union reported no political expenditures with the IRS while at the same time reporting $7,081,965 with the Labor Department.

“Again in 2006, Unite-Here reported no political activity with the IRS and $1,451,002 with the Labor Department.

“In 2005, the National Education Association also reported no political expenditures with the IRS while at the same time reporting $24,985,250 with the Labor Department.”

Although Lerner had to admit that the definition of political activity required to be reported to the IRS “coincides” with the definition of political activity used by the Labor Department, she tried to excuse these huge discrepancies by saying that the Labor Department form included both political activity and lobbying disbursements and the  “Form LM-2 does not separate this reporting from the reporting of lobbying expenditures.” But in fact, the very detailed Schedule 16 that accompanies the LM-2 breaks down such disbursements, so the IRS could track political expenses vs. lobbying expenses if Lerner had bothered to actually look at, for example, the AFL-CIO’s 2006 LM-2, which is available here. It included activities like “Subsidy – Election’06 Member Mobilization Effort,” and “Election’06 Ten Point Program – Elect Ciro Rodriguez ” and “Election Mailings — $150,000.”

It is true that Lerner said that there were “some instances that raised concerns” and she referred that information to the Dallas office, but the Dallas IRS office apparently did nothing about it.  Lerner was the head of the tax-exempt organizations office at the national headquarters of the IRS, making her the chief official responsible for regulating these labor unions.  Why was she so dismissive of a complaint showing that labor unions were potentially not reporting millions of dollars of political activity to the IRS?  And why was the issue referred to a satellite office of the IRS?  Why didn’t she follow up when nothing was done about it?  Why wasn’t a major IRS investigation opened up in Washington?

Filing a false statement on a tax return is a very serious violation of federal law that can be punished with everything from civil penalties to prison time depending on the circumstances and the intent of the filer.  And Lerner had just received information about multiple violations by multiple organizations.

Given all of the information that we have today, particularly the prior emails that revealed Lerner’s hatred of conservatives, does anyone believe that if Lerner had received a complaint alleging that many Tea Party organizations were failing to report millions of dollars in “direct or indirect political campaign activities,” the complaint would have been handled this way? That is just a bit hard to believe.

Sharif Government’s Survival Crucial for Democracy in Pakistan - Daily Signal

Sharif Government’s Survival Crucial for Democracy in Pakistan

Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky / Lisa Curtis /

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan received a boost today when a joint sitting of parliament endorsed his leadership following two weeks of street demonstrations led by maverick politician Imran Khan.

Khan, who leads the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has joined with Pakistani religious leader Tahir ul-Qadri to demand Sharif’s resignation for alleged vote rigging in the May 2013 elections that brought Sharif to power.

It is important that Sharif’s government survive—not for any reason having to do with him, his history, or his political agenda, but for the sake of democracy and stability in this particularly unstable part of the world. Pakistan’s transfer of power from one elected government to another last year was a milestone. It’s in the U.S. interest that it not be overturned by undemocratic means.

The protests have increased political instability and heightened civil–military tensions at a time when the army is battling terrorists who have sheltered in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and have conducted attacks throughout the nation, including a high-profile attack on the Karachi airport in June.

The parliament’s support for Sharif instilled confidence that he might weather the political storm despite allegations of a hidden army hand in the current political turmoil. Over the weekend, PTI president Javed Hashmi broke ranks with Khan, alleging that Khan was working in tandem with the Pakistan army to destabilize the government. While Hashmi had no proof for his allegations, they are not far-fetched for Pakistan, where the army often intervenes in politics. Indeed, Pakistani military leader Pervez Musharraf deposed Sharif during his previous stint as prime minister in 1999.

Sharif was re-elected in May 2013 in elections international monitors said were relatively free and fair with a surprisingly robust voter turnout—not a small feat for a country wracked by terrorism, sectarian violence, and a faltering economy. The elections also marked the first time in Pakistan’s history that one democratically elected government handed power to another elected government.

The political situation remains tense, and if violence breaks out on a large scale, the army would likely step in to restore order. While the army leadership may not be interested in taking direct control of the country, it seems likely that Khan received some encouragement from the military to move ahead with the protests. The army leadership seeks to maintain control of Pakistani policy toward India and Afghanistan and could be sending a signal to Sharif to back away from pursuing initiatives on these two fronts.

Khan is a volatile politician with strong anti-American views who has supported appeasement of Islamist extremists. While Sharif’s government has had a lackluster performance over the last year, the parliament’s support of his continued rule shows that Pakistanis respect the democratic process and are not fed up enough with the Sharif government to favor extra-constitutional means to overthrow it.

Muslim Cleric Makes 9/11 Joke, Then Says CNN Host Lacks ‘Sense of Humor’ - Daily Signal

Muslim Cleric Makes 9/11 Joke, Then Says CNN Host Lacks ‘Sense of Humor’

Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky / Lisa Curtis / Video Team /

Muslim cleric Anjam Choudary was doing a normal sound check before appearing on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” yesterday when he suddenly stopped counting said the numbers 9/11, 7/7, 3/11 — dates of deadly terror attacks. Host Brian Stelter asked his guest, “Is this all some sort of joke to you?” Choudary’s response left Stelter speechless.

U.S. Government Lost Track of 6,000 Foreign Nationals of ‘Heightened Concern’ - Daily Signal

U.S. Government Lost Track of 6,000 Foreign Nationals of ‘Heightened Concern’

Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky / Lisa Curtis / Video Team / Melissa Quinn /

More than 6,000 foreign nationals in the United States on student visas have vanished after overstaying their time here, raising alarm at the Department of Homeland Security. The federal agency is now working to find them after losing track of their whereabouts.

Officials at the federal agency told ABC News there are more than 58,000 students who overstayed their visas over the past year. Approximately 6,000 of those foreign nationals were referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for “follow-up,” as they’re of “heightened concern.”

“My greatest concern is that they could be doing anything,” Peter Edge, deputy associate director for Homeland Security Investigations, told ABC News. “Some of them could be here to do us harm.”

“Some of them could be here to do us harm,” says one official of foreign nationals who overstayed visas.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the 9/11 Commission recommended Homeland Security impose tighter controls on the student visa program. The group determined Hani Hanjour, the hijacker who flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, was in the country on a student visa. Hanjour, however, never showed up for school.

>>> Rep. Mike Rogers: ‘Hundreds’ of Americans Connected to Islamic State

Despite the commission’s recommendation 10 years ago, Edge said “we really have a lot more work to do” to fulfill it. ICE agents, he continued, are working to locate the 6,000 students.

Since the 9/11 terror attacks, 26 foreign nationals in the United States on student visas have been arrested on terrorism-related charges.

Homeland Security has lost track of 6,000 foreign nationals who overstayed their student visas.

James Carafano, a leading authority on national security at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that Homeland Security’s failure to keep track of foreign nationals in the country on student visas is “disheartening.” He added:

“The U.S. government made a major investment post-9/11 in updating the system to track student visas and crack down on fraud, overstays, we well as improve customer service and the effectiveness of the system. These kinds of results are disheartening. Why did the taxpayers shell out money to fix a system and then do nothing to enforce the system?”

More than 9,000 schools are on a government-approved list to accept foreign applicants on student visas. The list includes Ivy League colleges like Harvard and Yale, but also trade schools that teach horseshoeing, acupuncture and hair braiding. Some lack accreditation and state certification.

“We know we have a lot of non-accredited universities that are using this system to bring people in, collect money and not educate them at all,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told ABC News. “To me, it’s a mess.”

Coburn, along with Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is pushing for reforms to the student visa system.

>>> There is a ‘Real Threat’ That Islamic State Fighters Could Enter U.S.

Despite ICE’s failures in keeping track of foreign nationals on student visas, agency officials told ABC News that the government has taken steps to address visa fraud. ICE is taking on a new program deploying field representatives to inspect schools that received approval to accept foreign students on visas. Carissa Cutrell, spokeswoman for ICE, said 15 field representatives have already been hired. The agency plans to employ 60 total.

”To me, it’s a mess,” says Sen. @TomCoburn of the student visa program.

Another initiative—launched and implemented at one airport—alerts customs inspectors if a student whose status has been flagged by a school official is trying to re-enter the United States.

Since 2003, the number of foreign nationals who received visas to study in the United States has grown from more than 662,000 to 1.2 million, congressional investigators found.

“Our work has only begun,” Edge said. “We have a lot more work to do in this space.”

 

Q&A: Can the World Count on the U.N. to Fight ISIS Terrorists? - Daily Signal

Q&A: Can the World Count on the U.N. to Fight ISIS Terrorists?

Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky / Lisa Curtis / Video Team / Melissa Quinn / Brett Schaefer / Kelsey Harkness /

Top officials for the United Nations last week announced the terrorist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, committed crimes against humanity “on an unimaginable scale.” On Monday, the international organization followed up by sending a fact-finding team to Iraq to investigate these claims.

Whether the U.N. will act on its findings is yet to be seen.

U.N. expert Brett D. Schaefer, who is the Jay Kingham senior research fellow in international regulatory affairs at The Heritage Foundation, argues that the United States must be “realistic” in dealings with the organization.

What that means, he explains, is “supporting it where U.S. interests can be advanced while being unafraid to explore alternative options when it proves unproductive.”

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal, Schaefer, editor of the 2009 book “ConUNdrum,” assesses the U.N.’s report on ISIS, sharing where he thinks the organization will help – or hinder – America’s fight against the terrorist threat. In some cases, he says, America must act alone.

>>> Commentary: 11 Reasons Why ISIS Might Be More Dangerous Than al-Qaeda

Q: The United Nations just put out a report stating ISIS, or the Islamic State, has committed crimes against humanity in Iraq and Syria. What does the U.N. mean and why did it take so long for the world body to respond to an international crisis?

A: Crimes against humanity are serious crimes – murder, slavery, torture, rape, etc. – committed against a civilian population in a widespread and/or organized manner. The first notable definition was codified under the Nuremberg trials after World War II. The U.N. report accuses ISIS of torture, murder, acts tantamount to enforced disappearance, and forcible displacement of a civilian population committed at a scale rising to crimes against humanity.

The report is the eighth report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, which was established in August 2011. Thus, the U.N. actually has been paying attention to events in Syria for quite some time.

However, it is important to note that the U.N. report was not initiated in response to ISIS, but as an inquiry into “alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic.” Although ISIS has existed for over a decade in various iterations, it first became really prominent as a concern only a couple of years ago.

The crimes of ISIS have been included in the report because they have been committed, in part, in Syria, and fall under the mandate of the commission. It is fortunate that an existing inquiry was underway that could look into ISIS acts in Syria. In response to ISIS actions in Iraq, the Human Rights Council voted to send a fact-finding team, which is expected to report back in March 2015. This will complement the work of the commission.

Q: What is your assessment of the recommendations in the U.N. report?

A: For the most part they are non-controversial. Calls for sustaining funding for humanitarian efforts, for instance, are justified and are consistent with current actions of the U.S. and other nations.

In many cases, however, they are unlikely to be realized. For example, there are a number of pleas for improved behavior by the combatants, e.g. to respect and comply with human rights and international humanitarian law, reject violence and respect freedom of religion, to cease using illegal and indiscriminate weapons, and to allow access to the country by the commissioners, human rights monitors and humanitarian workers.

Obviously, these outcomes would be good. But experience over the past few years, with repeated willful violation of these principles by multiple combatants, provides little reason to believe that such appeals will be successful.

Q: Would following these recommendations counter the threat of ISIS? How much action would the U.S. be required to take unilaterally?

A: The commission calls on the international community to enact an arms embargo and on the U.N. Security Council to “enhance the enforcement and implementation of international human rights and humanitarian law through the range of powers and measures at its disposal.”

The Security Council passed resolution 2170 on Aug. 15, which condemns terrorist acts committed by ISIS and its indiscriminate killing and deliberate targeting of civilians and other atrocities; calls for those committing crimes to be held accountable; and applies an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo “to ISIL [or ISIS], ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaida.”

The resolution also demands that ISIS cease all violence and terrorist acts; demands that foreign fighters supporting ISIS withdraw; and calls on states to impede the movement of individuals seeking to join ISIS, block transfer of financing, supplies and arms to ISIS, and observe sanctions to six specified individuals linked with ISIS.

ISIS has little interest in entering the international community, and moral appeals and ostracization will a have minimal impact. Although it has a part to play, the U.N. lacks the capacity and means to back and impose its demands, and relies on its member states to support, implement and enforce them.

The U.N. doesn’t have its own army – the member states must provide troops tor peacekeeping – and, regardless, U.N. peacekeepers have proven to be poor war fighters historically. Compliance with Security Council resolutions can be haphazard among nations, either from disagreement or limited capabilities. Few countries outside the U.S. are willing or capable of taking military action to deter ISIS.

Q: When it comes down to it, if the U.N. does want to act, is it correct that a country such as Russia or China could block action because it’s a Security Council decision? How does that work?

A: Under the U.N. Charter, the Security Council can adopt a resolution that is, in theory, binding on all member states. However, it is not uncommon for countries to ignore or only partially comply with resolutions.

There are 15 members of the Security Council. Ten members are elected by the General Assembly. China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (the victorious allies of World War II) are permanent members of the Security Council.

A resolution can pass the Security Council with nine positive votes. However, each of the permanent members of the Security Council possesses a veto and can unilaterally block any resolution.

Q: What is the point of the U.N. if it can’t or doesn’t act during such a crisis?

The United Nations was created to maintain international peace and security, promote self-determination and basic human rights, and protect fundamental freedoms. Regrettably, the U.N. has produced more disappointment than success in realizing these high aspirations. A great deal of the blame for this failure is due to divergent interests among the member states that have prevented the organization from taking decisive, timely action.

However, the U.N. can serve a valuable purpose as a forum where nations can debate shared concerns and collaborate on joint efforts to address them and some initiatives, like peacekeeping missions, are often more politically acceptable as a U.N. operation than they would be otherwise.

The United States must be realistic in its dealings with the U.N. and have a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, supporting it where U.S. interests can be advanced while being unafraid to explore alternative options when it proves unproductive.

Q: Is there anything in this situation that the U.N. is uniquely qualified to address?

A: The U.N. inquiry does provide, in this instance, an objective assessment of the situation in Syria, and its condemnation of the actions of the Syrian government and ISIS is useful. The U.N. is also an important vehicle for providing humanitarian assistance.

Because nearly every nation is a member of the U.N., the organization can be uniquely helpful in mobilizing resources and conveying assistance. If, for instance, the U.S. tried to provide assistance directly, its efforts would be viewed as partisan by some combatants and its citizens would be targets. While not immune – U.N. workers are occasionally targeted – they are typically seen as neutral actors.

Q: What’s the question here about the U.N. that isn’t being asked or understood?

Although the U.N. frequently condemns terrorism, as it did in resolution 2170, it is important to understand that the U.N. has never agreed on a definition of terrorism.

The main impediment is that Muslim countries insist, as stated in the 1998 Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism: “All cases of struggle by whatever means, including armed struggle, against foreign occupation and aggression for liberation and self-determination, in accordance with the principles of international law, shall not be regarded as [a terrorism] offense.”

In other words, Palestinian acts of terrorism against Israel must be excluded. The failure to define terrorism inhibits U.N. efforts to combat it.

How Students Could Get Access to Courses Their High Schools Don’t Offer - Daily Signal

How Students Could Get Access to Courses Their High Schools Don’t Offer

Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky / Lisa Curtis / Video Team / Melissa Quinn / Brett Schaefer / Kelsey Harkness / Lindsey Burke /

Less than two-thirds of high schools across the country offer physics. Just half offer calculus, according to Michael Horn, an education innovation guru.

That only half of high schools offer calculus might come as a shock to a large portion of parents, who have worked to ensure their children have adequate educational opportunities. And it’s just one more reason why choice in education should be universal and not confined to choice among schools.

What exactly is course choice? Course choice enables students to craft an à la carte education uniquely tailored to their learning needs. Louisiana’s course choice program enables K-12 students to take courses from colleges, public high schools, virtual schools and private online providers. It enables students to access Advanced Placement and career and technical education courses, allowing them to earn high school and college credit, and industry-based certifications.

“They might, for instance, take algebra from a math tutoring firm, ACT prep from Princeton Review, pipefitting from a construction trade association, French from an online public school… or all of the above,” writes Politico’s Libby A. Nelson.

Horn writes in EducationNext that course choice “can allow schools to offer students an unparalleled course catalog that they couldn’t access within the four walls of any school anywhere.”

Louisiana’s course choice program uses state aid to cover the cost of courses for students attending a school rated “C” or lower on the state’s accountability system. Students enrolled in “A” or “B” schools are eligible to participate in the course choice program if their public school does not offer particular courses. Horn writes:

“…as online learning unbundles higher education, a need will emerge for entities to come along that help students make sense of and navigate this emerging, unbundled world and integrate the modular pieces together in ways that help them carve out a coherent and sensible life path. This is critical because it appears that in a personalized learning future, every single learner will have a custom fit educational pathway. The same could be true for high school students in K–12 schools, and district schools have a big opportunity to be the arbiter of coherence and the integrator of an array of pathways for learners.”

As school choice advances and takes on new and refined financing mechanisms such as education savings accounts (ESAs), course choice offers students the option to craft a learning plan that is tailored to their needs and future career goals.

War on Kids: Neighbor Begs Government to Shut Child’s Lemonade Stand - Daily Signal

War on Kids: Neighbor Begs Government to Shut Child’s Lemonade Stand

Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky / Lisa Curtis / Video Team / Melissa Quinn / Brett Schaefer / Kelsey Harkness / Lindsey Burke / Jordan Richardson /

On the corner of Patricia Avenue and San Salvador Drive in a Dunedin, Fla., neighborhood, 12-year-old T.J. Guerrero operates a lemonade stand to raise money for summer activities with his friends and family.

His stand is usually open in the afternoon, and customers line up to sample his lemonade and baked goods. “I tried the strawberry before and it’s perfect,” one customer commented, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “That’s what it’s about. He’s willing to work.”

Hard work and business skills are the lessons learned in this venture. “It’s all about profit,” T.J. noted. He operates his stand with a little white table and yellow sign on the corner of a grassy lawn. The neighbors enjoy seeing the business flourish in the summer months, reminding them of their childhood. “I had one when I was a little kid. We all did,” said Vincent Titara, who lives nearby T.J.’s lemonade stand. “I think it’s cute.”

But not everyone in the neighborhood was happy with the young boy’s little business.

Wilkey asserts that T.J.’s lemonade stand is an “illegal business” that causes excessive traffic and noise that could reduce his property values.

In a scenario reminiscent of the relationship between fictional characters Dennis the Menace and Mr. Wilson, an older neighbor became increasingly upset with the placement of T.J.’s lemonade stand near his house and tried to force the city government to shut down the boy’s business.

Doug Wilkey, a 61 year-old resident of this Florida neighborhood, emailed City Hall at least four times in two years and requested the police to intervene. Wilkey asserts that T.J.’s lemonade stand is an “illegal business” that causes excessive traffic and noise that could reduce his property values. “The city could possibly face repercussion in the event someone became ill from spoiled/contaminated food or drink sales,” Wilkey speculated in one email.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that in one email to City Hall, Wilkey vented his frustration and wrote this summer that the stand was back “AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Despite the impassioned arguments by this disgruntled neighbor, cooler heads in the local government prevailed. The mayor of Dunedin, Dave Eggers, showed his support by visiting the stand himself and sampling T.J.’s lemonade. “I think it is a great show of entrepreneurship,” Eggers explained. “This 12-year-old is setting a great example. I don’t know what the other neighbor’s problem is, but I would like to talk to him to try to figure it out.”

All across America, busybodies in local government and police are clamping down on “dangerous” food and drink stands.

Dunedin planning and development director Greg Rice summed up the city’s response as simply applying common sense:  “We’re not in the business of trying to regulate kids like that; nor do we want to do any code enforcement like that,” he said. “We are not out there trying to put lemonade stands out of business.”

In a strange bit of irony, the Tampa Bay Times discovered that Wilkey himself is running an unlicensed business operation from his home, and is skipping out on paying required taxes. Rice noted that, “[t]he irony is [Wilkey's] not following the rules either, or doesn’t seem to be,” and could face fines up to $250 per day until he comes into compliance. What goes around comes around.

While T.J. will continue to operate his business without interference, other young entrepreneurs have not been as fortunate.

All across America, busybodies in local government and police are clamping down on “dangerous” food and drink stands.

In contrast, the story of the Dunedin government’s response to T.J.’s lemonade stand is encouraging. It can be tempting for a local government official or police officer to respond to every complaint by shutting down a roadside business, or arresting someone to keep the peace. That easy route often ends with a citation, a mug shot or a jail cell. It takes courage for officials to exercise discretion by choosing not to intervene.

While there might be continued pressure from T.J.’s neighbor, Wilkey, to shut down the lemonade stand, the local government in Dunedin can be proud that they stood back and allowed a young entrepreneur to follow his dreams.

And we can all drink (lemonade) to that.

9 Adorable Back-to-School Photos Guaranteed to Make You Smile - Daily Signal

9 Adorable Back-to-School Photos Guaranteed to Make You Smile

Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky / Lisa Curtis / Video Team / Melissa Quinn / Brett Schaefer / Kelsey Harkness / Lindsey Burke / Jordan Richardson / Kelsey Harris /

“Smile, it’s your first day of school!” The (usually) dreaded sentence for kids, and the prized moment for parents — the once-a-year, back-to-school photo.

Whether you’re home-schooled, public-schooled, private-schooled, charter-schooled, or college-bound, the back-to-school photo is more than just a photo. It’s the quick moment of nervous excitement that will soon be forgotten amid overdue homework and Friday night football games. It’s a symbol of the important relationship between children, parents and education.

Thanks to our community for submitting these special moments below. 

'Back to school in a truckload! Proud college bound girl!' --Judy S.

‘Back to school in a truckload! Proud college bound girl!’ (Photo: Judy S.)

Photo: Michael K.

Photo: Michael K.

'Entering freshman and 4th grader!!' Photo: Kim W.

‘Entering freshman and 4th grader!!’ Photo: Kim W.

'All five of attend a Utah charter school.' (Photo: Jonathan S.)

‘All five of attend a Utah charter school.’ (Photo: Jonathan S.)

'She's officially a grader!' (Photo: Joelynn S.)

‘She’s officially a grader!’ (Photo: Joelynn S.)

'She was so excited!' (Photo: Linda D.)

‘She was so excited!’ (Photo: Linda D.)

The first day of school deserves a thumbs up. (Photo: Sandra R.)

The first day of school deserves a thumbs up. (Photo: Sandra R.)

'Our son Dylan's first day of school!' (Photo: Kess)

‘Our son Dylan’s first day of school!’ (Photo: Kess)