Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ruins Of Oldest U.S Protestant Church Found In James Town

JAMESTOWN — For more than a decade, the marshy island in Virginia where British colonists landed in 1607 has yielded uncounted surprises. And yet William M. Kelso’s voice still brims with excitement as he plants his feet atop a long-buried discovery at the settlement’s heart: what he believes are the nation’s oldest remains of a Protestant church.

The discovery has excited scholars and preservationists, and unearthed a long-hidden dimension of religious life in the first permanent colony.

It may prove to be an attraction for another reason: the church would have been the site of America’s first celebrity wedding, so to speak, where the Indian princess Pocahontas was baptized and married to the settler John Rolfe in 1614. The union temporarily halted warfare with the region’s tribal federation.

Last week Mr. Kelso, the chief archaeologist at the site, hopped into the excavated pit topped with sandbags and pointed to where Pocahontas would have stood at the altar rail. Orange flags marked the church’s perimeter. The pulpit would have been to the left and a baptismal font behind, with a door opening toward the river.

“I’m standing where Pocahontas stood,” Mr. Kelso said, gesturing to the earth at his feet. “I can almost guarantee you that.”

It would have been unthinkable for the intrepid settlers, as ambassadors of country, crown and church, not to erect a building for worship and conversion of Native Americans in their Virginia Company encampment.

Nor is it the nation’s oldest house of worship: Britain’s earlier “lost colony” in North Carolina may have had a church, and remnants of 16th-century Catholic churches and missions have been identified, according to Mr. Kelso. But the 2010 discovery and continuing excavation has generated excitement partly due to the size of the 1608 structure — at 64 feet by 24 feet, it was an architectural marvel for its time — and also because of how little has been understood about religion in Jamestown.

Some scholars lament that popular knowledge of colonial-era religion has been flattened into a view of the Virginians as greedy and indolent, while later colonists in Plymouth, Mass., were pious and devout.

The distinction is rooted in their origins. While Virginians were largely loyal to the Church of England, the pilgrims in Plymouth repudiated the church and came to America to escape it.

“Fundamentally, they’re different places,” said David D. Hall, a scholar of colonial religion at Harvard Divinity School.

Religion would still have been central to Jamestown, and theories abound as to why there has been scant attention. Histories tend to emphasize commercial pursuits of its colonists, and scholars also point to the Civil War: with the Union victory, the story of Northern colonial virtues — including piety — triumphed over those of the South. Another view is that Plymouth had a prolific printer and Jamestown did not.

“You have two very different Christian experiences; both of them can be equally rich and nuanced, but one tended to leave a much richer and more layered testimony about itself,” said Richard Pickering, deputy director of program innovation at Plimoth Plantation, the recreated colonial village in Plymouth that uses the historical spelling of the name.

There is also a practical reason: until recently, relics of early Jamestown were underground. For centuries, the fort was believed washed into the James River. But Mr. Kelso, unconvinced, began digging along the river’s banks in 1994.

By 1996, he was certain he had located James Fort’s perimeter. The site has since yielded about 1.4 million artifacts, many of them stored in a locked, fireproof laboratory nearby.

But the original church remained elusive. Then, last fall, the archaeologists located remnants of a new structure beneath Civil War earthworks.

Read More From New York Times

Today Show Interview With Special Needs Student Who Was Abused By Teachers Has Nation In Uproar

The Miami Trace Local School District received over 100 phone calls following Tuesday morning's NBC Today show segment featuring a 14-year-old special needs student who was verbally and emotionally abused by a middle school teacher and teacher's aide.

"There has been an outcry of response," Miami Trace Superintendent Dan Roberts said Tuesday afternoon from the OSBA state conference in Columbus. "I have not been able to take the calls because I've been out of the office. If I had known the story was going to break (Tuesday), I would have stayed at the office."

As of Tuesday evening Roberts had not been able to see the Today show segment, however, he said he plans on watching it.

Locally and nationally, many have reacted with outrage over this story that was first reported in the Oct. 26 edition of the Record-Herald.

On April 28, the child's father alerted Miami Trace to the verbal abuse of the girl and following an investigation by the district, an audio tape of the abuse was presented to district officials by Children's Services. This audio tape has resulted in the discipline of the Miami Trace Middle School teacher, Christie Wilt, the forced resignation of the teacher's aide, Kelly Chaffins, and a $300,000 settlement with the child's parents.

The special needs middle school student who was the target of the abuse, identified as Cheyanne, and her father, Brian, appeared on Today with their attorneys to tell their story.

On the audio tapes, Chaffins and Wilt are heard saying disturbing things to the child.

"Cheyanne, are you kidding me? Are you that damn dumb? You are that dumb?" Chaffins is heard saying in one instance. "Oh my God. You are such a liar. You told me you don't know. It's no wonder you don't have friends. No wonder nobody likes you because you lie, cheat."

Chaffins is also heard making fun of the girl's appearance.

"Cheyanne, don't you want to do something to get rid of that belly? Well evidently you don't because you don't do anything at home. You sit at home and watch TV. All night. All weekend."

In another instance, Wilt told Cheyanne that she failed a test before even looking at it.

"You know what? Just keep it," Wilt said. "You failed it. I know it. I don't need your test to grade. You failed it."

Chaffins also made Cheyanne walk on a treadmill as a punishment for getting a question wrong, according to Cheyanne's father. The school district claims that the treadmill is there to "refocus" students and not to punish them. Chaffins told Cheyanne that she broke the treadmill and should run in place.

Cheyanne's father told the Today show that he repeatedly contacted the school and was consistently rebuffed. The parents reportedly went to the school's principal, Jeff Conroy, and he spoke to Wilt and Chaffins. The parents then went to Roberts with the allegations.

"(That was) the first time we ever spoke with the man," Brian said, "and he told us we were bordering on slander and harassment so let it go and he would guarantee me the best education possible."

Roberts said the district acted immediately after receiving verifiable proof that the abuse had occurred.

"After hearing the tapes, we acted immediately and gave the teacher's aide a copy of the tape to share with her attorney," said Roberts. "She resigned immediately."

The student was immediately removed from the classroom and transferred to another.

As for Wilt, there was originally uncertainty as to whether she participated in the emotional abuse.

"We immediately contacted the Ohio Department of Education's Office of Professional Conduct and submitted a full report that their office received on May 5," said Roberts. "It took the State Department of Education five full months to render a decision."

The decision was to suspend Wilt's teaching license for a year, however, that punishment will not occur if Wilt can complete a number of stipulations, including anti-bullying and child abuse training, this school year.

Cheyanne's parents said they want Wilt to be fired and never be able to teach again. "She doesn't need to be around kids at all," he said in the Today show interview. "She participated in it, she was right there."

Roberts said Tuesday that Wilt has not taught a single day in the classroom this year because she has been on family medical leave.

"We are abiding by the decision of the Ohio Department of Education," said Roberts. "(Wilt) will abide by all of the guidelines set forth and if she does not, she will be fired."

As well as the ODE, the complaint was also taken to the Fayette County Sheriff's Office and presented to the Fayette County Prosecutor's Office.

It was determined that there was no basis for criminal charges and there was no physical abuse.

Roberts said he wishes he could tell the complete story from the school district's standpoint.

"We asked the parents to sign a waiver so we could tell our side of the story but they would not do that based on their legal counsel," said Roberts. "Between the two interviews that I've done on Channel 10 and the Today show, it was about 95 minutes worth of interview. Maybe 10

or 11 seconds of my interviews were actually broadcast."

Roberts said once again Tuesday that he is extremely sorry for what happened to the child.

"The persons involved fell short of our mission. We're sincerely sorry for that and we will work very hard to never let that happen again. We need to provide proper training and restate our expectations of how we treat children so that this never happens again."
Read More From the Times Gazette

Bullet Hit's Window Of The White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Secret Service says a bullet hit an exterior window of the White House and was stopped by ballistic glass.

An additional round of ammunition was found on the White House exterior. The bullets were found Tuesday morning. A spokesman for the Secret Service, Edwin Donovan, declined to answer additional questions about the incident including the caliber bullets recovered or what room of the White House was behind the window that was hit, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.

The discovery follows reports of gunfire near the White House on Friday. Witnesses heard shots and saw two speeding vehicles in the area. An assault rifle was also recovered.

President Barack Obama, who was headed to a summit in Hawaii, was not at the home at the time of the shooting.

The Secret Service said it has not conclusively connected Friday's incident with the bullets found at the White House. Previously, authorities had said the White House did not appear to have been targeted Friday night.

U.S. Park Police have an arrest warrant for Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, who is believed to be connected to the earlier incident. He is described as a 21-year-old Hispanic man, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 160 pounds, with a medium build, brown eyes and black hair.

He is believed to be living in the Washington area with ties to Idaho.

After the gunfire was reported, police said they found an abandoned car Friday night near the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge that crosses the Potomac River to Virginia.

U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser has said items found in the vehicle led investigators to Ortega. The suspect hasn't been linked to any radical organizations but does have an arrest record in three states, Schlosser said Monday.

Read More From Yahoo News

Colorado Parent Upset That Crotchless Panties Are Being Sold In Children's Clothing Store

Crotchless panties at a children's store? Nope, we're not kidding:

Erin French, a mom in Greeley, Colo., and her children entered a store this week called Kids N Teen, where French discovered several pairs of crotchless thongs displayed near the selections of kids' merchandise, Colorado's 9 News first reported.

"[The store has] cuddly little backpacks, and pretty little princess dresses," French told the station, after she made the discovery. She captured video of the panties with a cellphone camera.

The owner told the station that the store sells mostly kids' products, but that a small portion of the merchandise is geared toward teens. The shop has since pulled the panties from shelves, 9 News reports.

But it's too late, because news of the kiddie lingerie has already hit the Internet. The Heckler Spray blog wonders: "The owner of Kids N Teen says that 25% of her merchandise is actually for teens, which explains the whole crotchless knickers thing, right? Wait. Are they saying that it is okay for minors to buy crotchless knickers? Is that what's going on here?"

Jezebel points out that the panties looked small in the footage, but "If the underwear that's obviously meant to be used during sex was intended for a 14-year-old's wardrobe, that's a different story." We definitely agree; it's hard to argue that adult products like this should be displayed on the counter for teens to purchase at the mall.

This isn't the first time underwear for kids has come under fire for being too provocative. This summer, a French line called Jours Apres Lunes controversially hawked bras and panties for girls ages four to twelve ("filles" and "femmes") and a "loungerie" line for girls ages three months to 36 months ("bebes").

Read More From The Huffington Post