May 13, 2014

Charles Oliver: Holocaust homework ignores historical facts

Charles Oliver

— • Rialto, Calif., school superintendent Mohammad Z. Islam has apologized for an eighth-grade class assignment that called on students to write an essay on whether the Holocaust really occurred or was “merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.” Syeda Jafri, a spokeswoman for the school district, refused to say whether the teachers who made the assignment will face any punishment.

• Former Madisonville, Texas, police officer Jeffrey Covington has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and five years probation after being convicted of conspiring with another officer and a third person to plant meth in his ex-wife's car. The Covingtons were involved in a custody dispute. Laura Covington was jailed and had her children taken from her for five weeks after police stopped her and found the drugs. Those charges were later dropped.

• Spanish prosecutors are investigating Cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar after he called homosexuality a “defect.” Gay rights groups called the remark hate speech that violates the country's constitutional protection of dignity.

• Lewis & Clark College in Oregon has declared two friends, one white and one black, guilty of creating a “hostile and discriminatory environment” for exchanging racial jokes with one another at a private party. During a game of beer pong, the black student named his team after a colloquial form of the N-word. He later greeted his friend with the phrase “white power.” A student who wasn’t at the party heard about the remarks and filed a complaint. The school placed both students on probation and required both to attend bias reduction training.

• Humble, Texas, police have charged Patricia Almond with suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Almond, a teacher with the Humble school system, was stopped while driving to work at Timberwood Middle School after officers spotted her swerving and striking a retaining wall. They report that when she got out of her vehicle, she appeared to be disoriented, had bloodshot eyes and had the smell of alcohol on her breath.

• Earlier this year, the federal government legalized the cultivation of hemp — a variety of the cannabis plant that has no psychoactive properties — by colleges and state agricultural agencies. But no one bothered to tell U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or maybe they just don’t care. The agency recently seized hemp seeds that were being shipped from Italy to the Kentucky Agriculture Department. Kentucky officials say they have tried to tell the feds they are breaking the law, but they have refused to release the seeds.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.