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General Colin Powell: Helping America Become a Grad Nation

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama (R) speaks as Founding Chairman General Colin Powell (2nd L), and current Chair Alma Powell (L) of American's Promise Alliance, listen during an event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce March 1, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama spoke on the administration's effort to improve the nation's schools. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)

General Colin Powell @ WhiteHouse.gov~My wife Alma and I are honored to have President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joining us today to announce a new multi-year campaign to mobilize all Americans to help end the high school dropout crisis. We call this work Grad Nation.

For the past two years, America’s Promise Alliance has been traveling the country, raising awareness about how high dropout rates and low readiness for college and work undermine our nation’s future. In nearly all 50 states and 55 cities, we have convened high-level Dropout Prevention Summits that brought together nearly 30,000 mayors and governors, business and community leaders, school administrators, students and parents. They have committed to concrete action plans to improve graduation rates in their states and communities.

General Colin Powell and his wife, Alma PowellTo that end, the time for talking and planning has ended. Now we must turn our attention to solutions. This means acting on all the lessons we’ve learned at our summits, and more importantly, making sure all Americans see their stake in this and join us to reach an important goal, which is to see that 90 percent of today’s fourth-graders graduate from high school on time. If we achieve this, we will not only be a more healthy and prosperous nation, but we can also help realize President Obama’s goal of making the United States the global pacesetter of college graduation by 2020.

The simple proposition is this—improving graduation rates is not just an education issue; it’s a community issue. We cannot expect more from our schools and young people until all Americans are prepared to be more involved, because so many of the building blocks that make for success in school involve effort outside of the classroom.

Grad Nation is the way for us to mobilize to win this battle.

Grad NationMuch like the Olympic athletes we’ve been inspired by recently, we all need to push past our comfort levels and make our work benefit something greater than ourselves — our country. Whether it is through City Year’s “In School and On Track” initiative or The First Tee’s National School Program, our nearly 400 national Alliance partners and their local affiliates are stepping up to lead the way. We’re already seeing the impact of this type work in cities like Philadelphia and Tucson, which have improved their graduation rates by more than 20 percentage points in a decade.

So the question remains: What will you do? How can you help? The choice is simple. If we are to remain a great nation, we must be a Grad Nation.

To learn more about America’s Promise Alliance and Grad Nation, visit: www.americaspromise.org.

Read Transcripts of Speeches by General and Mrs. Powell

General Colin Powell is founding chairman of America’s Promise Alliance

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Academy Award® Nominated: Julie & Julia

Ensemble post by: Audiegrl, Geot, and BuellBoy


Julia Child and Julie Powell – both of whom wrote memoirs – find their lives intertwined. Though separated by time and space, both women are at loose ends… until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible.

In 1949, Julia Child is in Paris, the wife of a diplomat, wondering how to spend her days. She tries hat making, bridge, and then cooking lessons at Cordon Bleu. There she discovers her passion. In 2002, Julie Powell, about to turn 30 and underemployed with an unpublished novel, decides to cook her way through “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year and to blog about it. We go back and forth between these stories of two women learning to cook and finding success. Sympathetic, loving husbands support them both, and friendships, too, add zest.

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The cast includes: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Linda Emond, Helen Carey, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Jane Lynch

44D’s Reviews

IMDB member in New Zealand
“Meryl Streep continues to amaze. There’s never been an actress quite like her. Her body of work is a gallery of character without parallel. After 3 decades she is still brand new. She never became a parody of herself like many other great actresses before her and, chances are, she never will. Here she recreates a popular icon, fearlessly. Her joy is utterly contagious and her side of the film is a marvel. Amy Adams, good as she is, becomes an unwelcome distraction. We want to stay with Meryl’s Julia all the way. I think that Norah Ephron (Mixed Nuts) must have known, she must have! Didn’t she notice in the cutting room, that we were going to be turning away from the story every time we move away from Julia Child? In any case I’m glad we had the chance to see this new Meryl Streep creation. Kudos also to Stanley Tucci. Stanley and Meryl create one of the most original believable couples in decades. Thanks to modern technology we will be able to re-edit the film for private consumption and have a sensational short : Julia in Paris.”

Did You Know?

Because of Meryl Streep’s height (5’6″) several camera/set/costume tricks had to be employed to mimic Julia Child’s height (6’2″). Countertops were lowered, Streep wore extra high heels, and forced perspective camera angles were used.

Both the Paris and Boston train terminal shots were done in the beautifully restored New Jersey Transit Hoboken Train Terminal waiting room.

Stop The Train‘ by Henry Wolfe is included in the soundtrack. Henry (Real name Henry Gummer) is Meryl Streep’s son.

Paul Child was 10 years older than Julia, however in reality Meryl Streep is 11 years older than ‘Stanley Tucci’.

One Nomination

Best Actress~Meryl Streep

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Nominated for Best Actress ~ Meryl Streep ~Julie & Julia

Ensemble post by: Audiegrl, Geot, and BuellBoy

Meryl StreepA two-time Academy Award® winner and recipient of a record-breaking fifteen Oscar® nominations, MERYL STREEP (Julia Child) has portrayed an astonishing array of roles in a career that has cut its own unique path from the theatre through film and television. She was recently honored by the Lincoln Center Film Society with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

Most recently, Streep was nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Actress for her performance in Doubt, in which she starred opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. She will next be heard as the voice of Mrs. Fox in director Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and she will be seen starring for Nancy Meyers in the writer-director’s untitled project for Universal Pictures.

Prior to that, she starred opposite Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Christine Baranski in the smash hit Mamma Mia!, based on the hugely successful Broadway musical. In 2007 she appeared opposite Robert Redford and Tom Cruise in Lions for Lambs, which Redford also directed, and in New Line’s Rendition with Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Streep made her film debut in 1977’s Julia opposite Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave. In her second screen role, she starred opposite Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter, which earned Streep her first Academy Award® nomination. The following year she appeared in Woody Allen’s Manhattan and won her first Academy Award® for her role opposite Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer. She then received her third Academy nomination for The French Lieutenant’s Woman and later went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Sophie’s Choice, in which she starred alongside Peter MacNicol and Kevin Kline.

Other early film credits include her Oscar-nominated performances in Mike Nichol’s Silkwood, Sydney Pollack’s Out of Africa, Ironweed, directed by Hector Babenco, and Fred Schepisi’s A Cry in the Dark, which also won her the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival, The New York Film Critics Circle, and an AFI award. She also appeared in Falling in Love with Robert De Niro and Mike Nichols’s Heartburn.

Meryl Streep as Julia Childs in Julie & Julia

Meryl Streep as Julia Childs in Julie & Julia

In the 1990’s Streep took on a variety of roles including She-Devil and Postcards from the Edge, for which she received Golden Globe nominations as well as an Oscar nomination for the latter; Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks, Death Becomes Her opposite Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis, The House of the Spirits, The River Wild, Clint Eastwood’s screen adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County, which won her a SAG Award and Golden Globe and Oscar® nominations; Marvin’s Room with Diane Keaton and Leonardo DiCaprio, which earned her another Golden Globe nomination, Barbet Schroeder’s Before and After, One True Thing opposite Renee Zellweger, for which Streep received SAG, Golden Globe and Oscar nominations as well as the Golden Camera Award at the Berlin Film Festival, Dancing at Lughnasa, and Wes Craven’s Music of the Heart, which earned Streep her twelfth Academy Award® nomination.
In 2003, Streep’s work in The Hours won her SAG and Golden Globe nominations. That same year, her performance in Spike Jonze’s Adaptation won her a Golden Globe for Supporting Actress and BAFTA and Oscar® nominations. Her other recent films include The Manchurian Candidate, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Prime with Uma Thurman, Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion, Evening, and The Devil Wears Prada, which earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress as well as Academy Award®, SAG and BAFTA nominations.

In theater, Streep appeared in the 1976 Broadway double-bill of “27 Wagons Full of Cotton” and “A Memory of Two Mondays,” the former winning her the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Theater World Award and a Tony nomination. Other theater credits include Secret Service, The Cherry Orchard, the New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Henry V and Measure for Measure, the Brecht/Weill musical Happy End, Alice at the Palace, which won her an Obie; Central Park Productions of The Taming of the Shrew and The Seagull, and, most recently, Tony Kushner’s adaptation of Brecht’s Mother Courage, directed by George C. Wolfe.

In TV, Streep won Emmys for the eight part mini-series “Holocaust” and for the Mike Nichols-directed HBO movie Angels in America, which also won her Golden Globe and SAG Awards. She was also Emmy-nominated for her performance in First Do No Harm, which she also co-produced with director Jim Abrahams.

In 2004, Streep was honored with an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award.

Did You Know?

With her 16th nomination this year, Meryl Streep extends her lead as the most nominated performer. Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson are tied at 12 nominations each.

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This is not the way we should be doing things in America…

Posted by Audiegrl

Colin Powell and Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press 10/19/08Watching the horrific events at Fort Hood unfold yesterday, it saddens me to admit that one of the first things that came to my mind, once the shooter was identified, was “oh no, what is the right-wing going to do with this?” Today, after seeing some fair and some not so fair coverage of the Fort Hood Massacre, it reminded me of what General Colin Powell said on Meet the Press in October of last year. When asked by host, Tom Brokaw whether he was prepared to announce whether he was endorsing John McCain or Barack Obama, Powell answered with a very long explanation on how he came to the decision to endorse Barack Obama for president and how he felt about the recent actions of the GOP. Towards the end of his answer, he said something that needs to be said again and again, regarding some of the countries reaction to the events at Fort Hood.

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan's mother at his grave in Arlington Cemetary

Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan's mother at his grave in Arlington Cemetary

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards–Purple Heart, Bronze Star–showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I’m troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.~~Colin Powell

His words were important last year, but even more so relevant today. The following are two a thoughtful pieces written by Kamran Pasha and Jon Soltz.

A Muslim Soldier’s View from Fort Hood

Soldiers praying

Soldiers praying

Kamran Pasha—Major Nidal Malik Hasan is a murderer and has brought great shame upon every American Muslim in the armed forces.

There are currently over 10,000 Muslim soldiers in the U.S. military, men and women who are patriotic and love their country and their fellow service members. Hasan’s evil actions, the murder of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, have now brought those honorable soldiers’ loyalties into question.

The Islamophobe community on the Internet is trumpeting how Hasan’s behavior is reflective of the threat Americans face from their Muslim neighbors, and how radical Islamists have infiltrated the ranks of our military. Calls for purging the military, and perhaps even the United States, of its Muslim members have already begun.

Today there are dozens of families mourning the attack on their loved ones by a fellow-in-arms. And there are hundreds of Muslims at Fort Hood who knew Hasan and are stunned that he would betray their country and their community with such cold, calculated ease. Hasan’s rampage has truly shattered many more lives than we can begin to imagine.

I spoke today with a friend who is a Muslim soldier stationed at Fort Hood. He is a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Army and a recent convert to Islam. He agreed to share his perspective with me if I granted him anonymity. So we will call him Richard.

Richard is exactly the kind of soldier we need to protect our country from those that seek to do us harm. A combat veteran who has served in Iraq, Richard became interested in studying Islam initially as a strategic means of understanding his adversary in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. But as he began to study the religion’s teachings, he became struck by how different they were from what was being claimed by men like Osama Bin Laden.

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Kamran Pasha is a Hollywood filmmaker and author of “Mother of the Believers”

Many Issues With Tragedy at Ft. Hood — A “Muslim Problem” not One of Them, FOX News

Grave of Major James Michael Ahearn

Grave of Major James Michael Ahearn

Jon Soltz—Yesterday was one of the most tragic days in the military, in the midst of a slew of tragic days as we continue to see casualties in Afghanistan. Innocent soldiers lost their lives, and many more were injured, at the hands of a very troubled Major at Ft. Hood. Our hearts go out to all those who lost their lives, their families, and those wounded.

Like many, I’m angry and confused, as well, at how this could possibly happen. But, until the facts are all known, I won’t jump to conclusions, or cast aspersions at a large group of Americans, like the disgraceful hosts of FOX and Friends.

During an interview with Geraldo Rivera, the FOX and Friends hosts twice implied that this is some kind of Muslim problem. Of course, they didn’t come out and say it outright, they couched it in the form of a question, like FOX News can be so good at. You know, like their teasers, “President Obama. Does He Hate America?”

Brian Kilmeade asked if it’s time to have “special debriefings” or “special screenings” of all Muslims in the military. Because, as he said, “If I’m gonna be deployed in a foxhole, if I’m gonna be deployed in an outpost, I’m gonna want to know that the guy next to me isn’t gonna want to kill me.”

Perhaps sensing that they were not being offensive enough, Gretchen Carlson chimed in, “Could it be that our own military is so politically correct right now…to be careful about treatment of Muslims that they would have allowed this to go by?”

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Jon Stoltz is the Co-Founder of VoteVets.org, served as a Captain in Operation Iraqi Freedom

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