Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Follow story here... Audio/Video available.
Previous blog entry.
Update: This story seems to be growing.
Listen to discussion from the public radio program "On Point". Click audio options at the top of page.
This is some really sick stuff. New video game supported by evangelicals, promotes violence in the name of religion.
The Moderate Voice’s Joe Gandelman discusses topic of a 3rd Party.
Another good roundtable.
Topics: the deaths of Western journalists embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq; more than 1,400 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) badges and uniforms are stolen; and a new Web site wants to abolish the "n" word. Guests: Mary Frances Berry, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania; Michael Myers, executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition; and Jeff Obafemi, host of the radio show Freestyle.
Follow Discussion here... click audio tab
Guests are discussing the image of Black women in the media, particularly in Hip Hop, and how those negative images lead to negative images in the wider media.
Follow discussion here... click audio tab.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Traffic accident involving U.S. troops sparks rioting in Kabul
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Violent anti-foreigner protests raged across the capital Monday after a U.S. military truck crashed into traffic, touching off the worst rioting since the Taliban's ouster. At least eight people died and 107 were injured before Kabul's streets calmed.
Chanting "Death to America," rioters stoned the U.S. convoy involved in the accident then headed to the center of town, ransacking offices of international aid groups and searching for foreigners in a display of rising resentment over civilian deaths in the war against insurgents.
Gunfire, at times intense, rang out across Kabul as hundreds of young men looted shops and set fire to police cars and station houses. Some people said U.S. and Afghan troops fired on the crowds. Officials said they couldn't say whether that happened.
Full story here...
However, not long after his conviction, he was reportedly on vacation in Aspen Colorado. Looks like he's already getting special treatment. A regular American (the rest of us) would not have all of these options.
Report here, with additional analysis here.
From Houston Chronicle
May 26, 2006, 3:19PM
Italy to pull 1,100 troops from Iraq
ROME Â The Italian military contingent in Iraq will be reduced by more than 1,000 troops in June, Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said today.
"In June we will reduce our troops from 2,700 to 1,600," D'Alema said during an evening television show.
It was the first time the government has been specific about the number of troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. The announcement came after D'Alema met with Premier Romano Prodi to map an exit strategy.
Most Italian troops in the U.S.-led coalition are in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. They are involved in training, security and reconstruction.
Additional article says Italy will pull out completely by the end of 2006
Like He Did Here? Watch the video of this clown.
Apparently war is a joke to this guy. It kills me how Americans believe that this guy is some great Military hero and leader when he never served in war. Yet he carries himself as such a man. He's a phony, and has been from day one. Americans who fall for this guys bull..... are so stupid (and there are still many Americans out there who fall for the act). Bush, along with his entire crew, used social priviledge to avoid war. None of these imposters ever bled in battle for this country. Yet they are quick to joke about, and belittle those Americans who have. Remember what they did to Max Cleland, and John Kerry? Remember how they belittle so many other politicians who served in battle?
Bush is the last person I want to see or hear about on Memorial Day.
This country has never "honored" its war dead in the past half century. You don't honor these men and women by starting wars that the country doesn't need. It reduces their worth, by turning them into expendable objects. It cheapens them. They should only be asked to sacrifice for battles that the country DOES need to fight.
How many U.S. wars/conflicts since WWII have really been in the best interest of the U.S. and its people? How many presented urgent & direct threats to the nation that HAD to be met with military force? Not very many- I would say less than 10% of roughly a couple dozen conflicts in the last 50 years. The vast majority of these conflicts have not been worth the lives that were lost or worth the risks that the country took by taking such actions (because there is usually the risk of these conflicts triggering larger wars and larger problems). Most of these conflicts have been ego conflicts....conflicts that the U.S. didn't need, but that allowed the U.S. to flex its military muscle.
Right wing loonies will immediately say to that- Well Isn't the war on terror needed? I say, yes. We must fight Terrorism. But you can't defeat terrorism with Armies.... not traditional conventional armies in the way that Americans envision.
When will Americans learn?
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Yep, you read that headline correctly.
Street thug & sh-thead extraordinaire 50 Cent has been named Songwriter of the year by ASCAP... The official professional organization of the music industry. Each year, music industry insiders vote for their peers within the industry. This just goes to show how low the bar has been lowered in the music business these days. The current U.S. music industry is almost void of any real, meaningful & substantive Art/talent. It's all about who can show the most skin, shake the most a**, and write the most trashy, nonsensical song lyrics.
This is one of the reasons why the quality of R&B (Rhythm & Bullshit) music has declined so drastically over the last decade or so. Little talent is required.... and Art is definitely no longer required for a "hit". Just look at the list of recent ASCAP honorees. It's a complete joke.
What really kills me is the hero status that street thugs like 50 Cent have garnered from the so-called "Black Community" in America. It's beyond disgusting at this point. Just look at the young women.... ask them what their ideal "man" is today. The answer that you will get most often is the 50 cent character....or some variation of the "thug". Thuggery has become an honorable, accepted, and often preferred lifestyle for Black folks. Just mention names likes Tupac, 50 Cent, or Snoop Dog.... and women go crazy. For young black men... these street thugs have become idols and heroes that they look up to. And people are scratching their heads about the high black unemployment rate, high black dropout rates, high AIDS rates, etc? Much of it stems from this vile Rap Culture and the values & lifestyle that it represents. It is a culture that reinforces the negative behaviors and stereotypes that lead to many of the problems I mentioned....by leading young folks, Blacks in particular, to make bad choices. And this is the kind of nonsense that is rewarded by the American "Arts" establishment? It's no wonder that American "Art" is not really taken seriously outside of the borders of this country. The truth is ASCAP has little to do with real Art and has a whole lot to do with measuring sales and popularity.
This is one of the reasons why I am troubled by modern Black culture. Sometimes I just want to crawl out of my own skin. Why hate the skin i'm in? Being a part of modern "Black Culture" today, usually means supporting some of the most degenerate and most vile things in the society. It means so many negative things these days. I'm embarrassed everytime I pick up the newspaper and read about the latest antics from a rapper or R&B performer, or when i'm flipping through the channels and I see a trashy video on that Black cable television network.... I think it's called Buffoon Entertainment Television. This ignorant and degenerate subculture has become the image of Black folks worldwide, and has even become what it means to be Black. And the White establishment reinforces these negative images by rewarding them. Just take a look at what song took the top honors in the 2006 Academy Awards. This was a moment that should have been embarrassing for African Americans across the country. A group of criminals and street thugs from Memphis Tennessee were awarded best Song honors for the Minstrel tune entitled "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp". White America laughed in our faces that night, as a group of Blacks made fools out of themselves on an international stage. Needless the say, this is a culture that I can't get far enough away from.
At least this isn't quite as bad as child rapist R. Kelly being awarded honors by the NAACP, or rapper Nelly being honored by the King family. Yes, even Blacks are getting in on the act by celebrating their own degradation. But an NAACP award may already be in the works for 50 Cent for his great contributions to the Black image (the NAACP Awards ARE referred to as the "image awards" by the way). These thugs and the lifestyle & behavior that they promote, are held in high esteem by the "Black Community"... even by Black elites.... who sold their souls a long time ago. I would not be surprised if such an award were given. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised at much of anything that comes from "Black America" at this point. I'm at the point now where I really don't care anymore. I just don't want to be a part of it. Whatever "IT" may be.
Read report here.
The officers and soldiers involved attempted to cover-up the massacre.
The Marines involved in the killings of 24 Iraqis could face murder charges.
However, since the investigation and the decisions regarding punishment are controlled by the U.S. military, it is highly unlikely that any serious charges (such as murder) will be made in this case. This has been the trend in cases like this.... The civilian leadership is extremely reluctant to seek serious punishment for U.S. soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan, no matter how serious the crimes may be.
I do not understand why the media is creating such hype about this case. Is it an important story? Yes, of course. But this is certainly not the first time that U.S. troops have killed civilians in Iraq, whether deliberately, by accident, or through indifference for the safety and the lives of Iraqis. This is just one of the few cases where the military bothered to seriously investigate and found that U.S. troops were involved in illegal activity. There are certainly many other cases of similar conduct that go unexamined. A question that the media should be asking is "how many of these cases occurred that we don't know about"?. Remember, there was an attempted cover-up in this case, so how many other cases were covered up and went undetected? These are the real questions that we're missing the answers to.
Audio report from public radio.
Article from Msnbc. From a related Msnbc report, witnesses describe the killings.
Article from Editor & Publisher.
Article from the UK Telegraph.
Article from the San Jose Mercury Newspaper.
Article from the Globe & Mail.
NPR takes a look at the working conditions for civilian drivers in Iraq. Dozens have died while on dangerous missions over the past few years. This report indicates that these workers are seen as expendable & replaceable objects by the companies that they work for. Money holds priority over safety.
Listen to Part 1 of the report.
Listen to Part 2 of the report.
Find in-depth background information here.
Friday, May 26, 2006
But add another problem into the mix. The problem I am referring to is the problem of people who enter the U.S. legally under the legitimate entry system, but fail to report and leave the country once their Visas expire. This is an aspect of the immigration problem that few want to talk about. These millions of foreign visitors become illegal once they fail to leave when required and that will require personnel and equipment to respond to attempt to locate these individuals. This will only become a growing problem since politicians are attempting to put more visitors into the legitimate legal immigration system.
Article from the L.A. Times
Staying Put When Visas Expire
About 3.6 million people who arrived in the U.S. legally don't leave when they should. They are targeted as the nation debates its immigration policy.
By Anna Gorman, Times Staff Writer
May 22, 2006
Alhaji Kamara, 28, didn't enter the United States by hiding in the trunk of a car or trekking through the desert.The Sierra Leone native arrived legally in 1995 the way millions do every year, with a tourist visa. He later obtained a student visa and was eventually granted temporary protected status because of civil war in his West African homeland.
But when his legal status ended in 2002, Kamara decided to stay put. He said he didn't feel safe returning home."There was nowhere to go back to," the Orange County resident said. "I decided to follow my education here."
Continue reading here...
Thursday, May 25, 2006
From all the information that I have been seeing, I DO NOT see this great Democratic victory that people have been talking about. I have known all along just how much of a long shot it would be for Democrats to win back Congress later this year. Maybe the Republican media wants to get Democratic hopes up so that when they don't win back the Congress it will look like a complete disaster for Democrats. Who knows!!
Part of the reason why it is nearly impossible for Democrats to win back Congress is because of the undemocratic, unfair, process of redistricting or in this case gerrymandering that has taken place over the last couple of decades. This has left a condition where most Congressional races are non-competitive; meaning that the seat for the Republi-Crat currently in power is a "safe seat". That is because the lines for these particular districts are drawn up in such a way that the districts are stacked full of Republican or Democratic voters. This is a practice that mostly benefits Republicans... but Democrats have also engaged in this practice and have benefited.
This is part of the reason why I do not consider the United States to be a Democracy. This notion of Democracy is a myth and has been a fraud perpetrated for many years. This Democracy myth has been able to persist for so long because most boneheaded Americans are not familiar with political systems outside of their own. If Americans were familiar with political systems in other countries, they would know that their system is pretty far from a true Democracy. The U.S. political system has a long way to go before it can truly be considered a Democracy. But most Americans will tell you that they are willing to put up with this lack of Democracy because they are able to drive around in their nice SUV's, and have nice material things, and no other country in the world can give them so many trinkets-- in other words, the economy is great to many Middle Class and upper Middle Class Americans right now. But I wonder what they will say when the economy is not so great, and they are left with an increasingly Autocratic & Theocratic system? Hmmm, They are already starting to moan about gas prices. By the time Americans wake up (if ever) it will be too late. They have already lost half of the U.S. Constitution.
Ralph Nader (who i'm no big fan of) really hits the nail on the head in his 2004 comments about the American political system. He supports my view on why Democrats will have an almost impossible task when it comes to winning back the Congress. When I heard this speech the first time, I was shocked. He pointed out that the gerrymandering and the lack of Democracy was worse than I thought. The vast majority of Congressional seats are safe for the person in power. There is really no Democracy whatsoever. America also has a defacto 1-party system.
Listen to Naders comments. Click the audio tab.
Here are the election resources: For those people who want to humor themselves and who still believe that any of this stuff matters, lol.
None of the maps or polling data that I have seen shows any significant gains by Democrats.
1. Election Projection
3. Congressional Quarterly
4. NPR Election Map
5. U.S. Election Atlas From Dave Leip (Note: Traditional political colors are reversed on this site, blue is Republican and red is for the Democrats)
This is my favorite election map. Click on each State and you get detailed info about polling in that State.
The Dave Leip site works best for Presidential races. I used it in 2004, and used some of the information from the 2000 (so-called) election, and the analysis from this site was as accurate as can be. Be sure to use it for 2008.
The issue is continuing to split the Republican Party (which is not really a bad thing).
But even when a final bill does get approved, which is probably months away, there are not enough resources, manpower, etc to put the plan in motion. The Republican Congress is trying to create the illusion that they are doing something about the problem before the November elections. That seems to have been their plan all along (to pacify Red State voters). However, their plan has backfired badly. They have painted themselves into a corner, and they are in a position where they MUST act. They were hoping that Americans would not pay attention to the details.
The most hilarious part of the legislation (Senate and House of Representatives) is that they assume illegal immigrants will voluntarily come out of the shadows and "self deport". LOL What in the Hell are these Congress members smoking these days? This is the wackiest thing that I have heard of in a long time. These Congress members are really out of touch with reality.
Here are two articles offering analysis of the current situation. One from the Houstin Chronicle. Another from the Seattle Times.
My Op-Ed Commentary on this issue, originally written in March of this year, and posted earlier this month.
The Department of Justice (after getting complaints from Hastert and the White House no doubt) has now stated that Hastert is not under investigation.
Certainly he is involved in some way. I think he's knee deep in the Jack Abramoff mess.
Someone's lying... as usual. We won't know until more criminal charges come.
But that's why I didn't jump on the story Wednesday, like most others did. I have been learning that you have to wait a few hours for confirmation of some of these big stories, before posting anything.
But there's definitely something to this story.
Why are the Republicans really concerned about the FBI raid on the offices of Democratic Congressman William Jefferson? It certainly has nothing to do with their love for Democrats. So what is really going on?
What is really going on is that Republicans are scared to death that the FBI raid of a Congressional office (supposedly the first of its kind ever) could set a new standard that could put them in the same situation. With all the corruption scandals involving Republicans- which is a huge amount right now- Republicans don't want to have their offices raided.
I heard a few of the usual brainless TV & radio pundits mention that the Republican/Democrat cooperation on this issue had something to do with Republicans wanting fairness for the Democrat. LOL NONSENSE!!!
Republicans are worried about their own necks. And I can imagine that the paper shredders are probably working overtime in those Republican offices. They are shredding and burning all kinds of evidence at this point, if they hadn't already. lol
Report from CBS
Lawmakers Livid Over FBI Raid
Hastert, Pelosi Demand Return Of Documents; Jefferson Remains Defiant
WASHINGTON, May 24, 2006
(CBS/AP) In rare, election-year harmony, House Republican and Democratic leaders jointly demanded on Wednesday that the FBI return documents taken in a Capitol Hill raid that has quickly grown into a constitutional turf fight beyond party politics. "The Justice Department must immediately return the papers it unconstitutionally seized," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.
The outrage was so heated that that the White House was worried House Republicans could call for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign, CBS News has learned. However, Hastert and Pelosi said Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana must cooperate with the Justice Department's bribery investigation against him.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Will Israel defend the U.S.? I don't think so.
The U.S. faces this same dilemma with about 100 other countries throughout the world. Unknown to most boneheaded Americans (who can't even locate Iraq on a map) the U.S. has written or implied defense treaties with about 1/2 of the countries on planet earth. This kind of foreign policy guarantees that the U.S. will never see Peace, not for any significant period of time. This policy guarantees that the U.S. will continuously be in a state of war in some fashion, for the rest of this nations existence. The blood of young men in the U.S. will be wasted in the years and decades to come, all because of this stubborn Wild Wild West, John Wayne policy of being the self proclaimed World Police Force. Yet, most of these countries that we will have to defend, represent no clear and present danger to the United States, and represent no compelling interest for the United States, certainly not worth war. Most of the interests will center around private corporate interests, oil interests, and the U.S. feeding its ego. These wars will not be fought in the interest of the American people or in the interest of defending American soil.
Report from CNN
Bush: U.S. would aid Israel if attacked
Tuesday, May 23, 2006; Posted: 10:23 p.m. EDT (02:23 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush said Tuesday that the United States would come to Israel's aid if it were attacked by Iran and welcomed the Jewish state's plan to define its borders.
He made the comments at the White House during a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after a meeting between the two leaders. It was Olmert's first official visit to the United States as prime minister.
Bush also praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and called on the Hamas-led Palestinian government to meet international demands.
Israeli officials have joined the United States in voicing outrage over Iran's moves to enrich uranium, which could be used to build nuclear weapons, in light of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent calls for the destruction of Israel.
Continue Reading here....
NYU Professor Marc Seigal gives some interesting viewpoints on what is going on. His comments support an Op-Ed commentary that I wrote back in March of this year and published here a few days ago.
From the On The Media Program:
Aired May 19, 2006
Sick With Worry
Avian flu continues to garner headlines – last week’s good, but this week’s bad. In either case, concerns about a pandemic are still real, at least judging from the press. And yet fewer than 150 people have been killed by the illness worldwide. Mike Pesca talks about media and the politics of panic with NYU professor of medicine Marc Siegel, who thinks one of the biggest threats to public health is fear.
Click here to Listen to the segment.
To read my Bird Flu Commentary, which was originally written in March of this year.
To learn more about the On The Media program, visit their website from the link list on the right.
The ultimate goal of the U.S. is to have these diplomatic efforts fail, so that it can launch attacks against Iran...attacks that have been planned for quite some time now. The U.S. has no intention to settle differences with Iran peacefully. The U.S. is putting up a front, making it seem as if it is going the diplomatic route, while behind the scenes U.S. officials are trying their best to scuttle the diplomatic process as soon as possible. U.S. officials are going through the motions, and role playing, acting as if diplomacy is really part of their strategy, when the real plan has been regime change all along.
Follow story here...
How was this information so easily compromised?
Not only did the Veterans administration fail to have proper protections in place, but officials waited nearly 3 weeks before notifying the public about the theft. Did they want to give the thieves enough time to possibly steal identities and rack up credit charges?
Monday, May 22, 2006
Great new documentary from PBS, titled "Can You Afford To Retire?"
View entire documentary online. Best viewed with RealPlayer option.
Documentary covers topics related to the financial pinch that many Americans are feeling and the lack of funds available for saving...and the lack of discipline that Americans have when it comes to putting money away. It also focuses on how corporations are getting over.
With the uncertainty about Social Security, and with the continued financial strain for the poor and middle class, the issue of retirement is becoming a bigger and bigger problem for Americans. Americans are in for a shock. The standard of living in this country is going to drop. Within the next 50 years, the U.S. will probably be another Russia- with citizens who have no pensions...or not enough money from pensions to retire with dignity.
In fact, we are reaching the end of the "retirement" era altogether. Most Americans will have to work all or most of their lives (well into their traditional retirement years) in order to survive.
The bribery & corruption investigation into Jeffersons activities have been going on for several months, and appear to be wrapping up. An indictment is likely to come soon.
Definitely not what the Democrats needed. This just highlights the need for more major political parties in this country.
Audio story here from Public radio.
Articles here and here.
The Pot smokers at Truthout.org apparently may have had it wrong a couple of weeks ago when they reported a possible Rove indictment. That website apparently did not have its facts straight….and probably had no facts at all.
Truthout.org and Daily Kos should not be accepted as serious legitimate sources of information. I knew Truthout was the product of left wing crackpots but they seemed to maintain some level of integrity in the past. And the Daily Kos, with its big audience of several thousand hits per day, was the source that I used for the Karl Rove indictment story. The Daily Kos site is really a joke, and serious bloggers should be careful about replicating any information found on that website. I will cut down or stop using information from that site….. Especially if I can’t verify the information from another source first. I will not trust anything from Truthout.org EVER again, and will not use them as a source for any stories in the future.
Follow Story here
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Better speakers could have been chosen.
Students and faculty at Boston College were against Condoleeza Rice Speaking there and receiving an honorary degree. At least one Professor resigned as a result.
Then Cheney got the cold shoulder at the LSU graduation. Some students protested there. And keep in mind that Lousiana is safe territory for Conservative Republicans, despite the serious poverty in that State.
Now John McCain is nearly run off the stage at "The New School" graduation ceremony in New York. Listen to the NPR report. HILARIOUS!
Friday, May 19, 2006
The HBO documentary, Baghdad ER, takes a look at the struggles of wounded soldiers and the medical teams that fight to save their lives everyday in Iraq.
This is the part of war that most spoiled pampered oblivious Americans don't get the chance to see. Most Americans still think that war is a game. Over the last 15 years or so (since Gulf War I) the U.S. government has literally been able to sell the American public the idea that war is just a video game, with no real consequences.
I just wish this documentary had been done sooner, and I wish that it would play over and over as a weekly series. Every American needs to see the reality of war....to see the pain and strife that their ignorance, apathy, and indifference causes for people around the planet.
Now the U.S. Army wants to back away from supporting the film (although they supported it initially). The change came after the Army realized that the film was not going to be part of their fake news and pro-war propaganda campaign. The Army assumed that this was going to be part of the "program". lol They freaked & proceeded to "flip flop" when they realized that it was going to be real news from Iraq. CRAZY!!!!
Too bad CNN, and FOX News (State-Run Corporate media) won't show what's really going on.
Follow the story here.... Audio/Video. FAST FORWARD VIDEO TO THE 38 MINUTE MARK. STORY BEGINS AT THE 41 MINUTE MARK.
A more in depth Public Radio Discussion about "Baghdad ER".
Listen here.... Click Audio options at top of page.
Report from NPR.
HBO homepage for the documentary. Preview and other information available.
I guess tracking the phone calls, looking at your medical records and library records and credit information just isn't enough for these people.
AMERICA!!! WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO WAKE UP? YOU HAVE LOST YOUR DEMOCRACY!!! What little Democracy you had to begin with is now gone!
The United States is looking more and more like Nazi Germany, the old U.S.S.R., Myanmar, North Korea, China, Iran, Egypt, & Taliban Afghanistan with each passing day. Funny how the U.S. is always scolding these other countries about Democracy & freedom, especially when the only freedom in the U.S. is the freedom to be unfree.
This move is being led by Republican James Sensenbrenner.
Follow story here... Audio/Video
The phone companies probably should not have violated their own privacy policies, privacy laws....AND the 4th Amendment by providing the info without warrants.
Article here from CNN. Additional article from the NY Sun.
May 18, 2006
A 24-year-old African-American teacher in New York is suspended from her job after alleging acts of racism and abuse by teachers against students. Aja Kweliona taught middle-school students for two years at a public school in Manhattan.
Listen to segment
Scratching the Backs of Corporate Backers
Here he's talking about some lady named Hillary :). I love it! He lets her have it.
This is one of a long list of reasons why there should be a 3rd and 4th major political party on the national level. To me, one important indication of a strong Democracy is the ability of alternative major political parties to develop and flourish. I don't believe that the day will ever come when we will have more major political parties, because we don't live in a Democracy.
But I do agree with Hightowers suggestion about political funding. Every candidate should start out with the same amount of money- should be a level playing field.
Slight delay in audio.... let it play.
Bush Blows With The Wind
Robertson: God says storms, possibly tsunami, will hit US in 2006
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says God told him storms and possibly a tsunami will hit America's coastline this year.
Robertson has made the predictions at least four times in the past two weeks on his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded. Robertson said the revelations about this year's weather came to him during his annual personal prayer retreat in January.
"If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms," Robertson said May 8. Wednesday, he added, "there well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest."
Robertson has come under intense criticism in recent months for comments suggesting that American agents should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip.
Also See Report from MediaMatters.org
St. Louis Business Journal
A study focused on the effects of Wal-Mart stores on poverty rates found that an estimated 20,000 families nationwide have fallen below the official poverty line as a result of the chain's expansion.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark., ranked No. 5 on the St. Louis Business Journal's most recent list of the area's largest employers. As of Dec. 31, Wal-Mart employed 13,005 people in the St. Louis metro area.
The study -- Wal-Mart and County-Wide Poverty -- written by Stephan Goetz, a professor of agricultural and regional economics at Pennsylvania State University, and Hema Swaminathan for the International Center for Research on Women, was published in the latest issue of Social Science Quarterly.
Authors, Goetz and Swaminathan write that the presence of Wal-Mart was "unequivocally associated" with smaller reductions in family-poverty rates in counties nationwide during the 1990s relative to places that had no stores.
Read full article here...
Thursday, May 18, 2006
(With Some Background)
This is a brief update to a blog entry that I made in February about a Suburban St. Louis family being harassed by the town of Black Jack Missouri, which tried to prohibit the family from moving into a home they just bought, and now wants them to leave their home because they are not "a family" in the eyes of the city officials. This is a case that made national and international news in February. The city of Black Jack is attempting to impose its moral beliefs onto the family. The incident was sparked after the city found out that the couple was not married.... although they do have 3 children.
One of the city officials even used references to God when discussing the fact that the couple was not married. They (the city officials) claim that the city law was aimed at preventing overcrowding. Well, "overcrowding" is not really an issue in this case, and the house has more than enough room for the family. That's a convenient excuse covering the real motive- the city applying their religious and moral beliefs onto the family....and allowing the city to discriminate for a host of other reasons. Besides, if they wanted to make a law against overcrowding, then they could easily write a law to deal specifically with that issue. But it is all about the city trying to tell people how to live, how to raise their children, and what morals they should have. FOLKS...I'M FROM THE ST. LOUIS AREA AND I CAN TELL YOU, THESE PEOPLE ARE STUCK IN THE DARK AGES. THIS IS 100% BUSH, RED STATE REPUBLICAN TERRITORY...EVEN MORE SO THAN TEXAS.
But, after an outcry from people across the St. Louis metro area, the Black Jack City Council decided in February that they would re-examine the issue and gave all indications that they would straighten the issue out and overturn the law so that the family would not be evicted from their new home, face fines or further harassment.
In my original posting, I suggested that race was a factor, because it is an interracial couple. I now believe that it is more of a moral/religious issue, but I still believe that race may be a factor. Most people agree that there are dozens of other families in that town who are not married. There are thousands around the St. Louis metro area and most other large metro areas in the country. This couple appears to have been singled out. They were not aware of this bizarre situation until after they finalized the deal on their home purchase.
The City Council of Black Jack was supposed to vote yesterday, May 17th, to do something about the situation. All indications were that the city would change the law. For more background on this case, read here.
FAST FORWARD TO THE PRESENT
Okay... so the vote was taken yesterday. RESULTS?
The change was rejected. The previous ruling stands. The family will have to leave their home. OR pay huge fines. This was a surprise to most people, because (due to speculation) it was widely expected that the ordinance would be overturned and perhaps a more reasonable (overcrowding) ordinance would be written. Now the family faces eviction and at the least could be charged $500.00 for everyday that they remain in the home together.
Luckily the ACLU has stepped in and they will represent the family. They are prepared to take this case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the coming months, this may very well turn into a huge issue on the national level. Here is the latest on this story from the USA Today.
Additional articles here, and here
Article from CBS....
Article from Seattle Times
The Huffington Post Is Also Covering this Story. But Huffington won't cover it as good as I will ;). I covered the original story back in February, while Huffington and others are just catching on today.
CNN Also covering the story on their blog.
MORE TO COME ON THIS STORY!!!!
I will be keeping up with the case and will update as events dictate. I love these kinds of legal battles and i'm intrigued by this case.
UnmarriedAmerica.org has some good analysis of the case.
for August 13, 2006
ACLU FILES LAWSUIT!
Unmarried couple sues for housing permit
ST. LOUIS - A couple with three children has sued a suburban town that refused to give them a housing permit because the parents are not married.
The suit, filed on their behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday, claimed that the town of Black Jack's housing law violates the state and U.S. constitutions, as well as the Federal Fair Housing Act. It seeks unspecified damages.
The ordinance prohibits more than three people from living together unless they are related by "blood, marriage or adoption."
The ACLU said Foundray Loving, Olivia Shelltrack and their school-age children are facing fines of up to $500 per week for living in their five-bedroom home in the suburb of 6,800 because Loving is not the biological father of Shelltrack's oldest child, and the couple are not married.
"The government has no business saying two consenting adults cannot live with their own children," said Tony Rothert, legal director for the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.
City attorney Sheldon Stock declined comment. Mayor Norman McCourt did not return a phone call seeking comment. McCourt has previously said the ordinance was intended to prevent crowding and has nothing to do with morality.
The city council voted to keep the ordinance earlier this year.
Last month, a North Carolina judge struck down the state's 201-year-old law barring unmarried couples from living together, calling the law unconstitutional.
The ACLU says Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia also have laws that prohibit cohabitation. Missouri does not have such a law.
Official Press Release from the ACLU
He, along with his RepubliCON supporters, claim that this will help the economy. This is at a time when we have the largest debt ever, as well as the biggest annual deficit. Basic needs for the country are not being met.... poor domestic disaster preparedness, weak anti-terror measures, schools cutting back services, soaring energy prices, middle-class and poor Americans feeling the economic pinch, inflationary pressures increasing, Americans with lack of money for savings or retirement, Few jobs with a living wage, More and More Americans with no healthcare (nearly 50 million), 1 in 5 American children living in poverty, Americas deteriorating infrastructure, America losing its manufacturing capability- requiring us to get almost everything that we need from outside of the country, America losing its engineering and industrial strength to overseas competition, and an immoral unjust war in Iraq that is draining the country of about 5 billion dollars a month....and more importantly costing young American lives.... yet Bush finds the money for all of these tax breaks?
Yeah...they say that it will boost the economy, however, studies suggest that this may not always be the case. It seems that Bush has overstated the case for tax cuts, so that he can reward those who support him most (Corporate America & top tier wage earners).
Three-year effort has gone after officials at all government levels.
By David Johnston
The New York Times
Posted May 11 2006
WASHINGTON · A post 9-11 effort by the FBI to concentrate on public corruption now includes more than 2,000 investigations under way, highlighted by the Jack Abramoff lobbying inquiry, the racketeering and fraud conviction of former Gov. George Ryan Sr. of Illinois and the multipronged corruption inquiries after the guilty plea by Randy Cunningham, a former Republican House member from San Diego, bureau officials said.
As one of the Bush administration's least known anti-crime efforts, the three-year FBI initiative has yielded an unexpectedly rich array of cases. The results suggest that wrongdoing by public officials at all levels of government is deeply rooted and widespread. Several of the highest profile cases in which the FBI played an active role involve Republicans.
Read on here...
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
R&B legend Johnnie Wilder entered Soul Heaven this past Saturday. One of the great lead singers of the 70's era, as front man for the group Heatwave. Wilder struggled for many years after being paralyzed in a car accident. Yet he stayed active.
The songs he sang are classics.... "Boogie Nights" (the namesake for a couple of movies), "Grooveline", & "Mind Blowin' Decisions"....just to name a few.
Biography information for Mr. Wilder.
Biography for Heatwave here.
(Right Click and Open in New Window)
1. Mind Blowin' Decisions- Video
2. Ain't No Half Steppin'- Live Video
(A song that has been sampled over and over again by the Hip-Hop & R&B community for the past 2 decades).
3. All You Do Is Dial- Live Video Performance
4. Always & Forever- Live Video Performance
5. Always & Forever- Audio (Studio Version)
6. All I Am- Video
A Hip Hop Thug DJ in New York threatens to rape young child on his rap radio show.
These kinds of people should never have access to our radio airwaves. But this just gives the rest of America a taste of the poison that is being peddled to our youth from these big corporate radio companies like Clear Channel. This stuff is pumped into our children daily. The only difference is that this time it made national news.
This comes not too long after the nonsense with another new York radio station (Hot 97) where the rap/thug DJ’s made fun of the victims of the 2004 Tsunami- One of the worst Natural Disasters in the history of mankind.
These thugs make me sick. If I were President or Atty General I would order the immediate arrest of all of these thugs across the country under RICO and Anti Terrorism laws. All of their radio stations should be raided (no-knock style) and taken off the air immediately. And the stations should be dissolved. The licenses for the companies should be revoked and the CEO’s and station managers should be banned from broadcasting with any new station.
This group of scum should be run off the air in every major city in the country. Problem is… the "Black community" is almost devoid of any real men to do the job. I look back at the days of the Panthers with envy. And white folks don’t give a damn. This self destruction that these radio stations are involved in within the Black Community is just fine with them, so they have no incentive to stop it. Any kind of action against these stations will have to come from Black folks… and I just don’t see it happening. Remember, these are the same people who protested in favor of R-Kelly…and there was no real uproar among blacks after the Hot 97 incident.
Like I have said many times…young Black Americans are poisoned by this destructive culture. They are like zombies walking around. Let’s see if they come out and protest against this sickness in their own community. I’m definitely not going to hold my breath waiting for Black folks to do that… or any other major protest for that matter. They are much too busy predisposed with their lives of consumerism and materialism….and their empty culture.
See Story Here
Music Commentator and webmaster Davey D talks about the State of urban radio in a speech given last year in my hometown of St. Louis Missouri. The focus of his remarks are "The Clear Channeling Of America". Clear Channel just happens to be the corporation that owns the radio station mentioned in the above reports. They also own a significant number of these kinds of stations across the country. Just last year, one of Clear channels St. Louis Thug DJ's was fired for talking about different ways to kill police officers. This seems to be a not so uncommon theme with these communications companies and the radio stations that they own.
Watch/Listen to Davey D's remarks.... from Amy Goodman's Democracy Now program.
Reaction to the Bush Speech from CNN.
But as more people look deeper into the plan, they will realize that it is nothing more than a Public Relations ploy. This could be the end of the Republican Revolution (at least for the immediate future). Although they still have the upper hand. Because of his own lies, the American people no longer automatically accept what he or his aides have to say. There was a time when the Republicans would speak and the American people would accept just about everything they were told. That's no longer the case. Americans now listen... and then fact check, lol. It has become a routine now (which is how it should have always been in this country anyway).
So, with that in mind, it will not take long (maybe a week or two) before Americans figure this one out.
Why is this just fluff? Because:
1. The National Guard troops being sent will not be sufficiently armed...and most won't be armed at all. Keep in mind we have border guards being out gunned by automatic heavy weapons used by Mexican drug cartels and corrupt Mexican military personnel.
2. This will only involve troops on their routine training (which amounts to only a few days)... Then they leave...and a new crew may come in for a few days. There will also be gaps... this won't be an official deployment as we know it. They are trying to do this on the cheap. Just like the Iraq war.
3. These troops will not be involved in supporting the border patrol at all in any meaninful way. A rotation schedule of just a few days is not enough time for the border patrol to become familiar with the National Guard, and vice verse. The kind of cohesion and coordination that would be needed would take months to develop between the different agencies. So... this plan would simply allow the President to say that the National Guard is on the border (when in reality, this won't be the case in terms of stopping illegal immigration). The plan amounts to an empty photo op for the National Guard and the Bush administration.
4. On top of not being armed, the National Guard won't be involved in the apprehension of border jumpers at all. They will have no law enforcement duties, no rules of engagement, nothing. They will only have administrative and support duties.... supporting the border patrol. PLEASE!!! Let me translate that for you all.... It means that the National Guard won't be doing much of anything at the border, beyond being seen by the cameras (which is the whole purpose of the plan).
Article and analysis from The Seattle Times.
Key Issues Missing From Immigration Debate
Does the Congress really want immigration reform or just “feel good legislation”? It appears that Congress is trying to create the perception that they are doing something about the issue of immigration, while in reality they are doing little to solve the real problems.
The new proposals from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are both unworkable and unenforceable. Both the House and Senate plans avoid addressing key issues. I believe that members of Congress are aware of the conundrum of having unenforceable plans, but they are hoping that the American public will not catch on.
The Senate plan would likely create a list of as many as 1 million undocumented immigrants who would need to be deported back to their home countries. The much tougher plan being debated by the House of Representatives is even more unworkable than the Senate plan. The House plan calls for walls and fences on the Mexican border, and criminal charges for those who are in the U.S. illegally. The House plan would create an even larger list of undocumented immigrants who would have to be deported. Under both plans, most or all of the 11 million or more illegal immigrants would have to be processed in some way.
The bottom line is that the U.S. immigration service does not have enough personnel to process millions of cases, in addition to what they already process on a daily basis. The U.S. immigration system is already overwhelmed with its day to day processing activities. There is no way that the system could take on millions of cases above and beyond what they already have to deal with. Furthermore, there are not enough law enforcement agents in the field to do any sort of meaningful roundups of the hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of immigrants who would surely refuse to comply.
Michael J. Maxwell, former director of the office of security and investigations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, told Congress on April 6th, 2006 that officials at the immigration service had dangerously heavy caseloads. This falls in line with information given by other federal employees who have reported similar problems over the years. Maxwell described a situation where supervisors were pressuring workers to process 12 to 16 entry applications per day. He stated that the Immigration service was trying to do too much with too few workers. This situation suggests that any Immigration reform that doesn’t address the issue of hiring more workers to process cases will be dead on arrival. Any such legislation that would require the processing of millions of people is impractical and could never work.
Another major flaw with the legislation being debated, is that it would be almost impossible to determine how long an undocumented person has been in the country, due to a lack of paperwork to verify the information. Yet another huge flaw in the legislation is that it assumes that illegal immigrants would voluntarily come forward to pay fines, back taxes, and enter a huge bureaucracy with an uncertain future. It simply will not happen. And will the laws focus on punishing corporations and wealthy business people in the U.S. who exploit undocumented workers? The Republicans, the biggest beneficiaries of corporate America, have dug themselves a hole with this one. Why? Because their corporate allies would like to keep the cheap labor, and low insurance costs, while on the other hand, many from the traditional Republican base would like to see much harsher treatment. It is funny watching Republicans walk this tightrope. But Republicans did this to themselves. Republicans drew a line in the sand, really putting themselves in a box. Now they will have to deliver with harsh legislation or else risk being seen as failures by their base supporters for not delivering.
What should really be the focus of the debate is how this problem impacts national security. This should be the main focus of the debate. However, the main issues have been centered around the following: 1). Cheap labor, 2). Immigrants being a strain on local resources in the U.S., 3). Immigrants bringing down wages for Americans, and 4). Conservatives being concerned about racial demographics and fearing that more immigrants would mean more votes for Democrats. These have been the talking points on this issue for the most part.
However, if Congress was really concerned about national security they would not be so worried about poor migrants risking their lives for a better life. If Congress were really concerned about national security they would be more concerned with our Immigration entry policies- the policies and procedures that determine who can enter. For this is the real problem. Most of the 19 men who attacked us on 9/11 did not run across a desert border, evading the Border Patrol. Most of the 19 hijackers entered the U.S.- some doing so several times- through the normal legitimate entry process. It was bad U.S. entry policy that helped the 19 hijackers enter the country. Yet I do not see this as the center of the debate.
These Immigration entry policies still exist for the most part. The vulnerabilities that were exploited before 9/11 have never really been corrected. The hijackers did not get here because the U.S. military was weak. They got into the country because they were able to take advantage of Immigration policies that facilitated their entry. According to Maxwell, the former immigration security official, the immigration service is rife with corruption and fraud and entry is granted to applicants even when proper background checks are not conducted.
Just last month Americans heard a short lived debate about the high ranking member of the Taliban who was attending Yale University. This is outrageous! The same student Visa system that was exploited by the 9/11 hijackers is still intact. Sure, it is a little more difficult to get into the country, but it is still relatively easy to do, especially if the person attempting to get in is determined and learns how to manipulate the current system.
If the U.S. is really concerned about immigration reform, especially as it relates to national security, then entry policies must be the focus of the debate. We must re-frame the discussion. Migrant workers from Mexico have become a smokescreen blocking the real issues from coming to the forefront.
I am in favor of immigration, but it should be legal and controlled. I support tougher enforcement- even a wall along the border, but I also support strong policies and a realistic approach to dealing with those undocumented immigrants (and families) who are already here. Let’s demand real, creative, and substantive Immigration reform that deals with the real issues.
Bloggers are welcomed to use the above commentary. Just provide credit to author. Bio information available. Please contact TheAngryIndependent.
More legal battles are underway.
NPR has story...
"This July, Mexican voters will elect a new president. Campaign season has reflected a general loosening of the government’s stranglehold on media during the past six years. But the opening has also made way for a new media phenomenon: negative advertising. It’s a tactic that reflects the influence of political consultants who come from north of the border. From Mexico City, Collin Campbell reports. "
Listen to Program here...
To Listen to other "On The Media" Programs, visit their website.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Plans have quietly been put into motion.
Article from Rawstory has more information.
I have to disagree somewhat with the main conclusion- that the U.S. will attack in June.
1. Iran is massive... three times the size of Iraq, both in land and in population. There would also be many sites to hit. The U.S. would not be ready by time suggested in the article (June 06) IMO. Aircraft carriers would only be a portion of the attacking force. The U.S. airforce would have to move forces and equipment into the region. The Carriers could simply be taking part in exercises are could be engaged in their normal rotating process. The article doesn't mention anything about carriers rotating out. These carriers could simply be replacements. The U.S. keeps a constant carrier presence in the region as routine.
2. I can't see Bush & Co. attacking a few months before the November elections. It's inconceivable that they would do anything before then. The earliest most likely time would be around Christmas of this year- AFTER the November elections. The U.S. also has a history of starting these things around the Christmas Holiday. OR it would happen sometime in 2007.
The truth is... Even though the neo-cons want to attack anyway, regardless of diplomatic efforts, they will have a hard time making it appear that all diplomatic efforts had been exhausted by June. That would be too early. They at least want to make it appear that they really wanted a diplomatic solution, when some of us know that they really don't.
3. This is a bad moment for Bush politically. Does he have the political clout to do something like this as soon as next month? I don't think so.
However I do agree with the overall suggestions from the article... that the U.S. is slowly moving forward with war planning.
I think an attack would be a disaster for the reasons that I have mentioned on the site before.
Just like with the war in Iraq...the U.S. will certainly be able to start a war with Iran (The U.S. is an expert when it comes to starting wars), However, the U.S. may not be able to finish what it started. An attack against Iran could grow into something beyond what the U.S. could handle. Just imagine Iraq and multiply that by a factor of at least 10... that will equal Iran.
Topics: Capitol Hill debates the once-secret NSA phone database program, and a New York DJ is fired for threatening a child of a rival DJ on the air.
Guests: Callie Crossley, social/cultural commentator on the television show Beat the Press in Boston; Nat Irvin, professor of future studies at Wake Forest University; and John McWhorter, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow in Public Policy.
Listen to show...
I didn't think that it could get that low.... It's still too early to know for sure. Other surveys will have to be done and will have to show a similar decline, in order to support this survey. But it's not looking good for Bush & Co.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
And Not just "like"... but "prefer". Why do women in general like thugs?
This is the subject of a future topic. I just wanted to throw the headlines out there.
I will be writing about this in the days or weeks to come...
Once again there are indications that the American public has been...how shall I say it... LIED TO!
Surprisingly (or really not surprising), most Americans don't really care.
Like I have always said.... All Americans should be required to take civics lessons in school... it's unbelievable.
Story from USA today...
ABC news has story...
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
She is riding off into the sunset. One of Americas Greatest Women. One of the Greatest Americans period!
I can remember watching in awe at what this woman did- Piloting/Commanding that machine and putting America back into space after the recent disaster. One of the few American heroes that we have left.
Ha Ha :) Gotta Love it.
Additional articles here...and here.
3. 4. 5. 6.
Keep Cans of Tuna, powdered milk, several days of water and other items under your beds….for the coming Bird Flu. For the Bird Flu? This was a recent proclamation from the U.S. Health Secretary Michael Leavitt regarding how to be prepared for the impending disaster that will be caused by the Bird Flu.
My immediate response to Health Secretary Leavitt after his call to store food and water for Bird Flu was- Shouldn’t Americans already have plenty of food, water, batteries, and other emergency supplies on hand in the world that we live in today?
This hysteria reminds me of the recent uproar about the Dubai Ports deal. Although the concerns about the Dubai Ports deal were legitimate for the most part, the media hysteria that surrounded the deal nearly overshadowed the bigger picture, which was the general lack of security or non-existent security within Americas port industry. Only about 5% of containers entering U.S. ports are screened. Americans treated this like news, when in fact, Senator John Kerry and others brought these issues up at least two years before the Dubai Ports deal became an issue. The issue of foreign ownership has been raised before. Somehow Americans missed the earlier reports or perhaps they just did not pay enough attention to them. Perhaps Michael Jackson or one of the other nonsensical Hollywood stories drowned out this earlier coverage of these more crucial issues.
Now we are seeing the same thing with the Bird Flu. The corporate T.V. news media, which relies on entertainment news and hyped stories for ratings and revenue, loves to keep Americans afraid. The relentless attention on the Bird Flu fits right into the trend of networks sensationalizing the news. It benefit’s the big T.V. news companies to keep you scared because in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, Americans are much more likely to “Tune in”.
Just like the Dubai Ports deal overshadowed the larger issues surrounding Port Security, the Bird Flu hysteria is overshadowing larger problems with the nations disaster preparedness and response. Hurricane Katrina recently laid bare Americas broken disaster preparedness and mitigation for the whole world to see. There are also much larger issues surrounding Americas Homeland Security and terrorism prevention efforts in particular. For example, there are huge lapses within the nations private security industry, which is grossly unprepared and inadequate for dealing with the terrorist threat. There is almost no focus on this in the national debate about Homeland Security. With this in mind, Americans should not be distracted from the fact that we are much more likely to be hit by massive terrorist attacks, such as chemical attacks, or suicide bombings in our cities, including shopping facilities, restaurants, transportation systems, and large public places, long before Bird Flu becomes an issue. Yet these more likely threats are not dealt with effectively, especially as it pertains to Americas private sector. The remote and unlikely threats are glorified, while clear and present dangers are overlooked.
Our nuclear power plants remain vulnerable, as well as our transportation sector, chemical plants, and other key infrastructure. Clark Kent Ervin, the former Inspector General of Homeland Security, pointed out many of these vulnerabilities in 2003 and 2004. He has also rocked the boat within Homeland Security, stressing lapses within the Department. Ervin found that undercover investigators were able to sneak explosives and weapons past security screeners at 15 airports during tests in 2003. He has described management within the Department of Homeland Security as being in disarray. In a 2004 USA today report, he described the Department of Homeland Security as a huge, dysfunctional bureaucracy. Ervin’s job as Inspector General of DHS was not renewed and he left the agency in 2004. Some suspect that this was his reward for drawing too much attention to lapses in U.S. security. Ervin is still working tirelessly to draw attention to lapses in domestic security, recently stressing that old lapses still remain.
A recent report in the Washington Times revealed that security at the Homeland Security Departments own headquarters was lacking. Former security officers of the Wackenhut Security company have come forward in recent weeks to blow the whistle on the gaps in security at the facility. How ironic is that? One would think that the Department of Homeland Security- which can’t die under any circumstances- would have its own agents, or the U.S. military protecting the facility rather than a contract security company. Let’s see, Wackenhut vs. Al Qaeda? Would this even be a fair fight?
The private sector is still not required to have minimum national standards for the hiring and training of security personnel. Just recently there was the story of Darryl Littlejohn, the career criminal in New York who killed a graduate student there. He was able to get easy access to the victim because he was hired as a bouncer for a New York nightclub where she visited. He was hired without licensing or the proper background checks. This case highlights a serious problem in the private sector. Criminals being hired by private businesses, and by security firms in particular, happens all the time. This stems from a lack of federal standards for the industry, regarding hiring and training. Currently, there are different hiring and training standards for private security officers from one local jurisdiction to another, which adds up to hundreds of different standards.
Security personnel also need the force of law to do the job of security. High standards in hiring and training mean nothing if security personnel cannot act to protect the public. Currently, private security is generally more about style than substance.
Littlejohn, the New York bouncer and murder suspect, could have easily been a member of a terrorist organization. The case shows how easy it is to infiltrate certain sectors and industries within the country, 5 years after 9/11. This kind of thing should not happen. Yet, these kinds of gaps persist. Just a few weeks ago, it was revealed that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former deputy foreign minister of the Taliban regime- the regime that harbored Osama Bin Laden- is now a student at Yale University. He has access to our country thanks to the student visa program; the same visa program that was exploited by many of the September 11th hijackers, who entered the U.S. perfectly legally, facilitated by our own Immigration policies. When will these vulnerabilities be taken care of?
So, let’s put the Bird Flu into perspective. As of the Spring of 2006, there have been a few hundred cases of Bird Flu around the world with approximately 100 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). By contrast, annual U.S. deaths from the human Flu virus have been estimated to be between 20,000 and 36,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Furthermore, Dr. William Schaffner, Chairman of the Infectious Disease Division of Vanderbilt University, recently stated on National Public Radio that there was just a 10% chance of Bird Flu mutating into a deadly human form, easily passed from person to person. In fact, many experts believe that the chance of mutation is not very high at all. Some earlier estimates for Bird Flu mutation may have been exaggerated. It could take years or it could take decades before such a mutation takes place, if at all.
Dr. Schaffner and other experts also say that the doomsday estimates of high mortality are probably overblown. The doomsday T.V. news producers would like us to assume that vaccines would not be in place by the time such a threat materialized, or that the virus would spread easily, creating a pandemic. More testing and investigation is necessary before anyone can assume that these doomsday scenarios are likely to happen. Making these doomsday claims at this stage is irresponsible on the part of the network news media.
Since we are examining this potential medical crisis, why is the media not shedding light on the fact that the emergency medical capacity in most of our major metro areas is already maxed out with just routine everyday activities? The state of Americas medical system is the real crisis that is being buried under the sensational stories of Bird Flu. Many emergency rooms must divert patients away under routine conditions, because there are not enough emergency rooms, not enough nurses, not enough bed capacity, etc. If there was a pandemic, or any major disaster in this country, the lack of medicine may not necessarily be the problem. The problem would likely be the lack of nurses to administer the medicine, and the lack of ambulances, and beds for the sick and injured. The emergency medical systems in this country are either broken, or on the verge of breaking down, depending on the location.
We must also ask the question of who benefits from this atmosphere of fright? Just a few months ago, the President met in the White House with various executives from the drug companies regarding the Bird Flu. I hate to be cynical, but I doubt if these drug company executives were discussing college basketball, the weather, or lowering drug costs to allow the poor to have access to medicines. So who stands to gain the most from the fear? Hundreds of millions of dollars are up for grabs for a chosen few.
Should we be prepared? Absolutely! As a nation we should be prepared for all eventualities, whether it is a hijacked airplane, a levee break, a hurricane, chemical incident, an infectious disease outbreak, or any other major threat. I am 110% in favor of preparedness. But our preparedness should be rational and we must make sure that we are worried about the right threats. Not only are Americans being lulled into fear, but their fears are being manipulated and misdirected.
Bloggers are welcomed to pick this up....
Just contact me (the author) to let me know. Bio information available.