Ross Mackenzie

Brief comments relating to topics currently in the news . . .

In a world with seemingly a diminishing few friends of the United States, Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard stands out. For instance, he has made his country the last partner in “the coalition of the willing” in Iraq. “Our commitment to Iraq remains, and Australian forces will remain at their present levels in Iraq — not based on any calendar but based on conditions on the ground.”

In other words, Australia is with the U.S. — whatever it takes. Notes President Bush, “America could ask for no better friend and more steadfast ally than Prime Minister John Howard.”

France’s new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, may prove a close second to Howard. To the evident dismay of questioner Leslie Stahl, he began a CBS interview by speaking proudly of his nickname, “Sarko the American” (Sarko L’Americain) — conferred partly for his love of American music and culture. She began lobbing soft questions about him and his life, and he grew exasperated.

When she asked him to discuss “the great mystery” of his reportedly difficult marriage, Sarkozy blew: “If I had something to say about (my wife) Cecilia, I would certainly not do so here,” he said — unclipping his microphone and bidding her adieu. One of America’s newest friends was saying, in effect, I have more important things to do than put up with your idiot inquiries. Oh, and have a nice day.

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Is it not dismaying that the Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles is evicting nuns from convents in order to sell the buildings — thereby to fund a $660 million settlement to 508 victims of (primarily) 221 pederastic priests?

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Collegiate cheating is rife, according to Beliefnet’s Charlotte Allen: “(A) 56 percent cheating ratio for business-school students is only a few percentage points higher than the 50 percent of college undergraduates surveyed during the 2006-2007 academic year who reported they had engaged in ‘serious’ forms of cheating — cribbing notes and copying during an exam, performing cut-and-paste plagiarism, submitting someone else’s work as their own.”

She cites work by Rutgers Professor Donald McCabe to this effect: “When you factor in forms of cheating that undergraduates don’t consider serious — collaborating or getting help on assignments when asked for individual work or learning what was on a test from someone who took it earlier — the percentage rises to 67 percent. What a culture, what a country.

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Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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