Saturday, April 30, 2011

Gaddafi's youngest son killed by NATO strike or is it fabrication?

Al Jazeera unlike other media reminds us of the duplicity of Gaddafi. It was Libyan officials who took journalist "to the remnants of a house in Tripoli, which Libyan officials said had been hit by at least three missiles. Given the level of destruction, it is unclear that anyone could have survived."

"Al Jazeera's Sue Turton, reporting from Benghazi, said there were "an awful lot" of suggestions in Libya that the news of the deaths could be fabricated." "Back in 1986, Gaddafi once claimed that Ronald Reagan, then US president, had launched a strike on his compound in Tripoli and killed his daughter. Many journalists since then dug around and found out that the actual child that had died had nothing to do with Gaddafi, that he sort of adopted her posthumously."

Why not Syria?

Al Jazeera
The Syrian government is blatantly attacking and killing its citizens for protesting. This AP story is only the latest: Syrian protesters defy Assad government; 42 killed. But Al Jazeera has "scores" killed, i.e., up to 62. 

There has been United Nations intervention in Lybia, US may not be leading in that action, but is clearly supporting it in words and deeds. But when it comes to Syria - all is quite on the western front.

Oh yes - we get a UN "condemnation" and the US imposition of "sanctions" Neither which amounts to a tinkers damn. This is it - despite that "[t]he protests have drawn a cross section of Syrian society, which has been under Baath Party rule for the last 48 years. [Al Jazeera.]

And what were the sanctions? The US froze the assets of the Syrian Intelligence Agency, its director and another whose claim to fame is being the cousin of the Syrian president. How effective?  Not much as "Syrian leaders tend to keep their money in European and Middle Eastern banks." [MarketWatch.]

This from the Washington Post: "Syria [is] a country that is barred from most trade with the United States and is labeled a terrorist-sponsoring nation by the State Department. Washington continues to maintain formal diplomatic ties with Damascus, and the administration has not called on Assad to step down, as it did in the case of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and now-deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak."

How come we look the other way on Syria?

Portland school bond

Jack Bog's Blog has it right - the school board should not be essentially rewarded for letting the state of the buildings fall so far in disrepair. Jack apparently as a homeowner receives the illegal campaign ads for the ballot measure. While I am not a homeowner - I do vote, but those campaign ads never enter my mailbox - thankfully.

The latest ad contains images of the disrepair with captions: "We wouldn't allow this in out homes," therefore ""We shouldn't allow it in our schools." But they did - didn't they?

Jack's "message to the school board is to come back next time asking for about a third as much money." Amen!

PCC's microelectronics program

The Oregonian story is Intel snaps up PCC Rock Creek grads as it feeds record chip demand, but maybe the better story is why there were only 15 graduates to snap up? A community college is often the path to a 4 year college or to a career. One is not going to find a less expensive way to prepare for a future.

PCC's microelectronics program has only the prerequisites of a high school diploma and algebra. Is that so daunting that it deters admission? Or is it the advanced math, physics and chemistry classes that must be taken as part of the program that puts people off?  Frankly, these requirements seemed pretty slim. One coming out of high school ought to have qualified easily.

Maybe the potential wages aren't enough incentive? $40,000 to $45,000 starting pay sounds pretty decent for someone with a 2 year degree. Or is it that the opportunity to earn six figures in the industry, one will have to take on additional training and responsibility?  You know - work ethic.

Maybe it fact that one might have to work for a corporation and be held down by the man. Liberal layabouts have their principles.

Portlandia - where young people go to retire. Fits the bill.

New Jersey and the Hudson Tunnel Project

In an earlier post  I wrote about the New Jersey Governor's decision to cancel the project - a tunnel between New Jersey and New York. It seemed a valid decision given the state of the economy. His rationale is found in an AP article: "Considering the unprecedented fiscal and economic climate our State is facing, it is completely unthinkable to borrow more money and leave taxpayers responsible for billions in cost overruns."

But like any business agreement - one cannot merely walk away without consequences. Thus the feds want New Jersey to repay $271 million spent before the cancellation. The governor was fully aware of the consequences - but he not only refuses to pay he has taken a path that will most likely cost the New Jersey tax payers dearly.

The governor refuses even to negotiate - all the while interest accumulates. It may end up in litigation which means it will drag on for some time - maybe years. The risk for New Jersey is not only the on-going costs for an outside law firm - $800,000 so far - but if they lose they will owe the feds the principal plus interest. Interest is $50,000 per week.

But here is the kicker: If the state had offered to pay $1 (one dollar), interest accumulation would have stopped. But the big boy from New Jersey is a rank politico seeking tea party admirers rather than serving the interests of New Jersey and its citizens.

Facebook: corporate interests not free speech?

Corporate interests reads profits. It seems to matter not how they are derived. Facebook's apparent willingness to accede to China's curbs of free speech is a prime example of profit first in the American corporate model.

This from Facebook’s lobbyist, Adam Conner, who told the Wall Street Journal, “Maybe we will block content in some countries, but not others.” He went on, “We are occasionally held in uncomfortable positions because now we’re allowing too much, maybe, free speech in countries that haven’t experienced it before.” {Letter from China: The New Yorker.]

Allowing too much free speech? Interesting that Facebook sets themselves as the arbitrator of readiness for free speech. 

Mark Zuckerberg from his Facebook page: "I'm trying to make the world a more open place by helping people connect and share." What drivel.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Donald Trump - draft dodger?

Live by the sword die by the sword. The story: Donald Trump avoided Vietnam with deferments, records show.   Interesting - maybe even ironic - the headline is essentially an innuendo that questions his patriotism. The very tactics that Trump likes to use is used upon him. [See post.] The american public is about to learn more about Donald Trump than he would like. As I say - American politics is a disgrace.

CBS's Schieffer: Racism underlying Trump's assertions

Bob Schieffer has been a newsman for centuries it would seem. He is one of the few real journalists left on television. So when he stated that Racism underlying Trump's assertions about how Obama got into Columbia and Harvard - I was curious. I respect Mr. Schieffer's opinion, but the Donald? The man who refers to African-Americans as "the blacks?"

Yes - the Donald. It is not too difficult to come to that conclusion. He and other birthers operate on innuendos. In challenging the birthplace of Obama Trump also alluded to the possibility that he might be a Muslim, as if that makes him ineligible to be president. There seems to be no rational reason that Obama should be challenged on his birthplace or religion, especially after the election.

Even though limited in number there are too many people who seem to resent that an African-American is the president. Rather than challenging Obama on policies - they - through innuendos - seek to undermine his presidency on the basis of race and religion.  .

Where are the birthers like Trump when it comes to Senator McCain? There is an actual controversy here - albeit technical. How about George Romney, or Barry Goldwater? [See the CBS post.]

Mr. Schieffer was correct in calling out Donald Trump. American politics is a disgrace.

Bottled vs tap

Interesting read in the Washington Post: College students push to restrict bottled water. I was never a big water drinker - I get my water intake from coffee and beer. Seldom do I drink tap water and never do I buy or drink bottled water. The reality is that there is no advantage to drinking bottled water. In many cases bottled water is nothing more than bottled tap water - same source.

I found it amusing to attend meetings in Portland with all the bottled water on the table. It never seemed to dawn on them that they were paying foe water that is free from the tap. Nor did it ever turn on that light bulb that bottled water comes in plastic bottles - an apparent scourge of environmentalists.

I wonder how many plastic bottles of water sit on the table of those who want to ban plastic bags? Hypocrites.

Mexico's narco blog - unvarnished truth about their drug wars

Al Jazeera's Mexico's narco blog: Drug deaths in real time depicts real life in Mexico's drug wars. El Blog del Narco needs translation but if you use Google Chrome - no problem. The translation isn't precise but close enough.

An excerpt: "Yesterday an armed group came to the Colony Villas del Sol, and attacked Hector Aguilar Javier Portillo, 42, who worked as an agent of the state police in Mazatlan, Sinaloa." That is his window riddled with bullets.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

School Bond unlikely critics

The Portland Tribune in their Bond draws unlikely critics repeat the proponents claim of $400 per year for the owner of a median-value home. But Jack Bog's Blog (left column) has a computation gadget that is at odds with this number. An assessed value of $179000 has a $714.21 tax price. And $179k is not a median assessed value.

There are two bond measures on the ballot. Neither of them will lessen the drop out rate nor raise test scores nor raise the overall level and quality of education.

School buildings, those where children are educated, that are dangerous to its inhabitants ought to be repaired - but the one measure carries too big of a taxpayer price to repair all buildings "deemed" in need of repair.

Teachers and administrators need to rethink their role in education and repair the dismal state of education in Portland schools.

Wrong time and wrong reasons for property tax increases.

Good advice for all "shared" means of transportation

The New York Times: Before Driving a Zipcar, Consider Liability Insurance. Failure to have enough insurance can cost you - maybe your future. It is an age old problem in the rental car business. Not only might the "victim" look to you too for damages - you can be assured that you will of necessity be named in the potential lawsuit.

I don't have any experience with Oregon law so I will leave it alone, but one time early in my working career I was traveling for my employer on California and was involved in an accident. I was driving a Hertz car - I, my employer and Hertz were all sued. I never had to pay one cent, and I frankly don't know if anyone did pay - but I spent more time with attorneys than I ever wanted. The moral though - had I taken the extra insurance that used to be offered - I would have avoided any fear of paying damages.

No one had any physical injuries - but had there been or had I suffered injury - who would have paid for medical claims?

Read the Times for more potential consequences for insufficient insurance coverage.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Father tortured and abused child - parole likely in 25 years

The Portland Tribune: Dead child’s father sentenced to life in prison. The headline ought to have read that the sentence was 25 years. It was a life sentence with possibly of parole in 25 years. Given what is known about the circumstances - neither one of these individuals two should ever be free.

"Investigators called the girl’s murder the worst case of child abuse and neglect they’d investigated. Court documents show the girl was abused and tortured for more than three years before she died on April 13, 2010."

"At the time of her death, Oleander weighed 28 pounds. She was covered from head to toe with bruises, abrasions and wounds in various stages of healing. She also had multiple broken ribs, some of which had been broken repeatedly, a repeatedly broken thighbone and scarring on some of her internal organs."

And there is more in the Tribune's article.

One comment to the story sought to spread the blame to community for these criminal and depraved acts. While there may be others who should share moral blame - it seems that a 5 year old might not come in contact with that many others in the community to justify the condemnation of the unknown others.

To seek to spread the blame of the torture and abuse of a five year old to the community is to dilute the conduct of the two who in fact committed these criminal and depraved acts.

Justice is not well served by 25 years in prison.

"Silliness" is being too kind

Not content with the birth certificate with the appropriate state seal the media fed the ignorance and stupidity of the birthers. [See post.] The president to stop the "silliness" provided a long form (detailed) of his birth certificate. Donald Trump is taking credit - but his part in this debacle requires me to rethink his intelligence. [See post.] But look at his reaction to news reports about his voting record, and his slam on Robert DeNiro. Presidential material - I think not.

Agro-terrorists?

It is not who you might think. In the states of Iowa, Florida and Minnesota, there is legislation in the works to criminalize whistle blowers and undercover workers in industrial agriculture - factory farms. [Hiding the Truth About Factory Farms - NYTimes.com.] 

The New York Times notes that these bills "are supported by the big guns of industrial agriculture: Monsanto, the Farm Bureau, the associations that represent pork producers, dairy farmers and cattlemen, as well as poultry, soybean, and corn growers."

But, it is this very kind of efforts needed for an informed public. E.g., The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, synonymous with muckraker, led to the quality of meat products we now take for granted in our grocery stores. 

The argument that the US is, or is becoming, a corpocracy has merit.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Best cities to live and learn - no Portland

Great Schools is an excellent site to obtain information about any school, primary and secondary, in the nation. Recently they published their list of best cities to live and learn - not surprisingly Portland is absent, but just as surprisingly Lake Oswego is on the list.

Public schools - a shift to private schools by middle class?

While this is a San Jose Mercury News article about California it seems that it public school failure is a national problem. With the obscene drop out rate for Portland High Schools - middle class families here ought to be leading the way to the exit. Only 56.3% of Portland High School District's high school students graduated. 56.3% graduated - 43.7% didn't graduate.

"Portland Superintendent Carole Smith expressed disappointment but vowed to dig into the statistics to learn from them and make changes." Now I feel better. Shameful and rather disturbing that Portland "prides" itself on numerous firsts but cares little about its public schools and has exhibited little ambition to make its schools first rate.

Neither one of the public school bond measures on the upcoming ballot will improve the educational level of a single child. The proponents claim that it is for the children, but that is mere political advertising hype. Lets make these bond measures depend on a determinable and significant increase in student performance.

Children only get one crack at attaining an education that prepares them for life after high school whether that is an immediate job or college entrance. To place your child in public schools, unless it is one of the few truly exceptional schools, is to deny them the opportunity to the future they deserve.

Children are being failed by their parents as well as the public school system.

Oakland CA mayor uses the same play book in fighting crime

There must be some school that liberal politicians attend to learn how to cope with real problems affecting our cities - if there is - then it must be one of those where everyone gets star approach. In response to the ever worsening shootings in Oakland the mayor said: "I assure you that it is a high priority and the Police Department will schedule increased patrols in the area as they continue to investigate the circumstances," [Blah, Blah, Blah.]

"Quan [Oakland's mayor] believes in providing young people, including those hell-bent on shooting other people, with positive alternatives." Mayor Jean Quan failing on Oakland crime rate

It is not only Portland that fails to grasp the crime problems and solutions. Does it make you feel warm and fuzzy?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The US: For Libya it is one face yet another for Syria

NATO strike on Gadhafi HQ raises pressure on him yet Thousands of Syrian troops raid rebellious city.

What makes the difference?


PC Magazine misses the bigger picture

PC Magazine's latest story is on the iPhone and other similar devices that essentially collects data but arguably the collection isn't sent anywhere. Really? House Democrat Warns of Sex Predators Using iPhone Tracking. [See their other story Is Your iPhone Tracking You?]

From the title of the story the concern by the House Democrat is the potential use of the tracking collection by hacking, sexual predators. Frankly, it does seem on the edge of probabilities - but the while the story poo-poos the likelihood, it makes clear that it is possible. The gist is that even if accomplished the data is so imprecise it would be of little value.

Hmmm. I don't know - it seems likely that a pattern of conduct could easily be established for stalking. It is the use of IP addresses and type of data subject of the article that allows the corporate world, and why not government, to pretty much categorize your habits for future use.

Isn't that the bigger picture? Corporate and government access to what was ordinarily thought to be "private" information is now collected. The collection is factual - the assertion by companies like Apple that it will not be used is little consolation. Worse yet - there is no way for a user to know when that data is collected or where it is, in fact, sent.

Data should never be collected by technology instruments that consumers use, especially as a communication device. There has to be an obvious opportunity to "opt out" of the collection, and that no data ought to be collected and stored without active permission by the consumer.

If one wants to think of something scary - think Adobe Flash Player that has the ability to turn on the now omnipresent camera.
.

Ohio's $1.4 billion state stimulus

"Ohio has launched what appears to be the biggest intervention in the private economy by a state government since at least the Great Depression," Ohio is spending $1.4 billion to attract jobs. Will it work?

Casting doubts: "A USA TODAY review of two dozen of Ohio’s state-funded projects found many behind schedule or failing to deliver the jobs or investment returns promised."

Ohio State University economist Mark Partridge: “Politicians and economic development officials overestimate their ability to forecast the future — to predict the next Silicon Valley or even to know beforehand that a Silicon Valley is going to occur.

He also notes: “A tax incentive for one firm means I have to raise taxes on everyone else or cut services."

Therein lies the rub - who is footing the $1.4 billion? 

Old Town: A good start - walking beat and assigned district attorney

The city is ponying up $250,000 to fund a DA and 2 cops (according to an email I received) walking the beat. But in reading the resolution - it is still clear that the city hasn't a clue on the issue. It is drug user oriented. See bold text below. See also the rationale for the resolution - also in bold text (it is the first)..

EVs "won't work for most people"

"[EVs] won't work for most people. For at least 90 percent and maybe more of the population, [an EV] won't work [at the current battery range]." BMW North America CEO: Electric vehicles "won't work for most people" — Autoblog Green

That actually shouldn't be surprising even with more battery range. EVs need to approximate "regular" size autos if they are to be useful for everyday use and not just to drive to the local store to pick up a few groceries. Most of the extant EVs have too small of an interior for most uses.

Just try to take your family to the county fair. Tooling around with friends is a non-event.

But check this out - from the same CEO: "I believe in a free economy. I think we should abolish all tax credits."

Lake Oswego: Go by streetcar.but close schools

Lake Oswego board votes Monday night on proposal to close 3 schools yet Lake Oswego streetcar clears second hurdle, with Portland City Council voting 4-1 to move ahead.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gang as a family affair

Gang member, brother, mother, and friends charged in Pico Rivera drug case: "The gang member whose chest tattoo of a 2004 shooting of a rival helped land him a murder conviction is embroiled in another case involving his brother, mother and acquaintances."

This article is definitely worth the read.

Pope urges diplomacy in Libya

In Easter message, pope urges diplomacy in Libya - I wonder who it is that the pope is addressing in his message? Why Libya and not Bahrain or Syria? I submit that it is a rather safe target since "religion" is not the core problem in Libya. Libya seems to be the country that most other countries, if not every one, agrees that Gaddafi must go. Calling him a lunatic is too kind.

Diplomacy - really? Talk about a day late and a dollar short. Maybe he doesn't read the news. How about this from AP - Gadhafi unleashes rocket barrage on rebel city.

The Vatican has no credibility in the matters of world affairs.

Stadium schemes - liar liar pants on fire

Interesting article on an apparent attempt to "ad" their way through a colossal failure. Not an atypical approach by those in urban renewal development. By the way of Jack Bog's Blog - see David Sirota: Beware of Vampire Squids and Their Stadium Schemes - Truthdig.

"As Goldman’s ad tells it, Louisville’s major problem was its desperate need for a new arena. That’s when the bank swooped in with a “financing strategy” to build the stadium, which then supposedly led to “a vibrant downtown scene, where new businesses are opening, existing businesses are expanding and local restaurants are hiring more employees.”

Sound familiar? Read the article for another perspective.

KGW: Gang violence prompts higher police profile

It is KGW's headline but it could have been the lead in to any media report. But Portland readers and viewers recognize that it is a headline often seen - it is not new and will be repeated over and over again for the inevitable stories on gang shootings. 

While the headline proclaims a step up in police presence - the trouble is that it is temporary and the police will shortly be stepping down their presence. It is like any police response - reaction to an event not prevention of the event. It is somewhat akin to watching a train wreck and knowing that someone could have thrown a switch that would have avoided it.

Catch this quote from KGW: "Gang officers fear there could be more violence this weekend, especially because the weather will be nice and people will be out." Don't you know that when the police fear warm weather that the situation is out of their control?

Old Town's drug market advertising

Checkout Jack Bog's Blog for the satirical under the auto wiper advertisement proclaiming the Old Town drug market.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gangs, Guns & Violence

The media has to start digging into their journalistic past to resurrect the principles of journalism. It is not enough to regurgitate what the police release states or what the chief or police commissioner (the mayor) has to say. What about questions and follow up. E. g., the Portland Tribune story Police tackle gang violence is nearly word for word from the Police Release and another Police Release.

In the story there were 6 guns confiscated. What about the make of the guns, the manufacturer, the last owner, whether they were reported stolen. Isn't it important to know - shouldn't the public know - the source of these weapons? Wouldn't that knowledge lead to realistic gun legislation and gang violence control?

The Washington Post ought to be a guide for the media: The Hidden Life of Guns.

Democracy & religion: oil & water.

Silent dancers descend on Frankfurt to break Christian law. "A number of German states still have laws which ban public dancing on a number of important Christian holidays . . . " Members of the Green Party organized the silent dance dancing to their own MP3 players. Their rationale: “It is not the job of the state to secure the observation of Christian rites."

A conservative Christan Democratic Union minister in the German state of Hesse: "Hesse was a, “Christian-western oriented” state and that thus it was, “important and correct that there is no rock around the clock on the most important Christian holidays of the year.” 

No rock around the clock? Oh my - how old is that guy?




Shameful U.S. inaction on Syria’s massacres

The editorial opinion of the Washington Post: Shameful U.S. inaction on Syria’s massacres is right on point. See this last paragraph:

"As a moral matter, the stance of the United States is shameful. To stand by passively while hundreds of people seeking freedom are gunned down by their government makes a mockery of the U.S. commitment to human rights. In recent months President Obama has pledged repeatedly that he would support the aspiration of Arabs for greater freedom. In Syria, he has not kept his word."

But the 800 lb gorilla - Israel. In another Washington Post story: "the administration, which made the “engagement” of Syria a key part of its Middle East policy, still clings to the belief that Mr. Assad could be part of a Middle East peace process; and it would rather not trade “a known quantity in Assad for an unknown future.”"

For more than 60 years the western countries have erected a shield around Israel protecting it as a mother would a child. At best it has resulted in 60 years of turmoil in the Middle East with Israel existing in a fantasy world of isolation. They live in a bubble that couldn't be maintained without the aid and comfort given by the western countries. 

Isn't it time that Israel stand on its own?





Gang violence - too commonplace

The headline from the Portland Tribune: Gang violence up this year. I don't think that is much of a news item. It seems that in the last year and more gang violence has been prevalent. Of course the police commissioner, AKA mayor, is seeking attention rather than positing something worthwhile. Granted it is a difficult problem - but he ought to be standing in the background giving support to the police chief whose job it is to control this violence.

Friday, April 22, 2011

TriMet budget - PortlandAfoot

TriMet budget - PortlandAfoot is a most interesting read. I haven't had the time to give it much thought - but superficially it raises more issues. I seem to recall that only 23% or so of Trimet's operating expenses were met by paying riders. Thus, I am not sure these number in the post jive with paying ridership figures.

Take a peek at the WES cost where a 2 hour ticket is the standard MAX expenditure. It is not even close to paying for the ride.

Like I say - it is a interesting post - in fact the website is a good read - but I need a better grasp of what the numbers really mean.  

Religion = mythology

I am sure that equation is not what David Brooks of the New York Times wanted me to take away from his opinion piece. He was writing about the musical "The Book of Mormon." He notes that it is silly - "the idea that God would plant golden plates in upstate New York" But in some sense it is no sillier than a virgin birth.

Mr. Brooks mentions several positive religious concepts, for example, he notes that "religion itself can do enormous good as long as people take religious teaching metaphorically and not literally." Amen to that.

But religion is more than preaching of doing good and loving your neighbor. There is an inherent and certain mythology and ritual that all cultures seem to need even in a religious form. Isn't the best one can take from religion is the mythology and folklore that is the basis?

Inscrutable shootings and violence

The recent shootings with one death appear to be gang related violence. But if so, those involved are not necessarily teenagers. E. g., it was a 29 year old that was injured in a shootout between a passing car and those on the sidewalk.

An Oregonian editorial blog post wants to put aside the gang issue. It has a "let's all get along" theme. The problem is that gang violence is the major cause for nearly all the inane shootings and stabbings in the nearly last year and one-half.

The gang aspect explains why in the case of Mr. Hampton his "friends" disappeared into the wood work after he was shot. Of course it doesn't help to have a police department that is roundly criticized for each and every confrontation - as if it is their fault.

Nor does it help the police department that its police commissioner hasn't a clue - his approach has been gun restriction laws - like that matters. And - given the crime hotspots in Portland - a fully staffed police department would help. Finally, cutting the police department's budget is plain stupid. [See Gang violence and Portland's gun control planPortland police budget - mission ending.]

But in the end - the city has to get a handle on the gangs. A news organization like the Oregonian rather than pontificating in its blog posts ought to be devoting time and resources investigating Portland's gang problems. Oh - I forgot - the Oregonian isn't a newspaper anymore.

Amazon failure - cloud computing risks

A decent story by AP carried by KGW not only provides a primer on cloud computing but notes the associated risks. It is clear that it can be a cost benefit, especially for start up companies; but with server crashes such as Amazon's - is it beneficial in the long run?

Documentary: Japanese internment camp

Portland Tribune: Documentary shines light on a dark time in U.S. history.

From the Tribune:

"The public is invited to attend a free premier of “Prisoners and Patriots: The Untold Story of Japanese Internment in Santa Fe” and Q&A session with director Neil Simon on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

The events will take place at the University of Oregon’s Portland campus, 70 N.W. Couch St., Rooms 142/144.

It is sponsored in part by the Center for Japanese Studies and the Center for Public Humanities at Portland State University, the Oregon Heritage Commission, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at U of O, Spirit Mountain Community Fund and Target.

A preview for the film is available at www.vimeo.com/santafe . More information can also be found at www.oregonnikkei.org."

The University's location is just off Naito Parkway and Waterfront Park. It is a beautiful building inside and out. There is plenty of parking nearby. And, not too far away (maybe a block and one-half), is the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center - well worth the visit.

WTF: Morrison Bridge & Lloyd MAX closures

KGW notes that the Morrison Bridge will be closed and MAX will not be serving the Rose Quarter but shuttles will complete the trip from Lloyd Center.

It could hardly be more ill timed - the Blazers are playing a home playoff game during the closures, and the weather seems destined to be excellent for the first weekend in many.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nap time for air traffic controllers - inane editorial

Some on-shift nap time will save lives has as its line a "let the air traffic controllers sleep" policy. Never mind that these are professional people that are well trained and well paid. A goodly number of workers work other than a day shift and do it without sleeping or watching movies. Rather than be outraged that these individuals shirked their duty with much riding on their performance, or the failure thereof, the Oregonian proposes a nap.

If an employee has a second or grave yard shift - it is not too much to ask that they adjust their day to acquire the necessary rest. Typically these type of jobs have shift incentives. And they often offer many employees time with the children and family that others don't have. The point is that this is a job that an individual ought to perform to the best of their ability.

One wonders who is going to provide the napping controllers their wake up call. Maybe the recent firings might do the trick.

Never enough funds to do everything

No funds for creativity? is a Portland Tribune article about Mount Tabor Middle School. The key sentence: "Mt. Tabor Middle School has for years tried to be everything to everyone." Maybe that says it all? There has to be a priority in spending given limited dollars.

While there is a certain whining and moaning about cutting "my" program - it is interesting that education the children receive at Mount Tabor Middle School doesn't rate even an honorable mention in the Tribune article.

A look at the school's profile on the Oregonian's database or the school's rating on the Great Schools website demonstrates that education at Mount Tabor has a value worth mentioning. Mount Tabor is an outstanding school on both.

From the Oregonian database, it is especially interesting to note that the student-teacher ratio is 19:1 - not exactly small. It has a 64% white ethnicity and 32.6% enrollment in free or reduced lunch program. There is only a 6% in the English as second language category.

Despite the value of "extras" at Mount Tabor - there is only so much money to be expended, therefore - some items have to be cut if the fairly high academic achievement level is to be maintained and improved. But, it seem all too often that the fight for "my" program result in elimination of valuable programs for all students.

This principal is doing an excellent job, especially in maintaining creativity in education while maintaining academic achievement. Too bad that it is an atypical Portland school.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Police Press Release - Old Town Drug Mission

Press Release: "Officers from the Portland Police Bureau's Central Precinct Street Crimes Unit and Neighborhood Response Team conducted undercover drug missions for several weeks in March 2011 in the Old Town neighborhoods affected by street level drug dealing and drug use.

32 people were indicted on a variety of drug charges including Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Delivery of an Imitation Controlled Substance, Delivery of a Controlled Substance Within 1000' of a School, and Felon in Possession of a Weapon."

Look at the list of 32. These are not kids not teenagers. The age would average out to somewhere in the 40s. The Multnomah County Jail doesn't list addresses - but it is doubtful that they are Old Town residents. 

Take a peek at a few. 

Kendell Mack, 32 - why is this individual out on the street anywhere?

Antoine Young, 21 and on his way.

James Rogers, 43, another whose presence on the street is question.

The Press Release indicates that most are in jail - but a quick check cast doubt.

Intel: state must value education

"“Portland should be where young people go to live, grow, work and eventually retire,” James said to a smattering of applause." This quote from the Portland Tribune of Intel's Renee James speaking to Portland Business Alliance. Rather than receiving a thunderous applause - it was a smattering.

James noted that Intel hires most of their new employees from out of state because of the absent of Oregon workers with degrees. Apparently Intel requires all of its employees to have a 4 year, not 2 year, college degree. Intel's expansion adding 1,000 new workers will be filling most of those positions from outside the state. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reducing unemployment: penalties versus capes

In Germany they hand out financial penalties to the jobless who, for example, fail to show up for appointments at the labor office or fail to apply for any jobs. In Florida they give out "superhero capes" to the jobless as a technique to reduce the unemployment rate.

IPR - foolishness

IPR Quarterly Report, First Quarter, 2011 (and others) - casts doubt of the intrinsic value of the Independent Police Review. I am not necessarily casting dispersions on the intent or on those who volunteer their time - but more on the actual need for such a review. A better question is whether there is any true value in its effectiveness given the input.

Somewhere in 2004 - 05 I started attending their meetings. I was one of few of the public that attended, not unusual for public populated committees. I had no axe to grind - just wanted to participate. This was back in the days when I believed in participation. 

At the time I saw few cases that was relevant to police review. I did see a few cases where the "accusers" were decidedly anti-police. I remember one situation where a recent graduate from law school thought that she was ready to be a judge. As an attorney I thought her arguments appalling.

IPR - another means used by the anti-police Portlanders to prosecute their agenda.

But here it is 2011 - take a look at these new cases; the dispositions are obvious and can be found in the Reports:

JUMP Math

An interesting math teaching concept is called JUMP Math.  I came across it in the New York Times - A Better Way to Teach Math. It isn't clear where the "JUMP" comes into play - I am assuming it is an acronym, but there are no jumps. 

In some sense - it comes across nearly as common sense with patience. The concept involves micro-steps in place of a learning step. The micro-steps give value to learning and help overcome points of difficulty. And, it isn't only for teachers - the program material is available to parents or anyone. See JUMP Math and even Amazon.

A New York Times example: "Given a seemingly straightforward question like, “What is -7 + 5?”, many will end up guessing. One way to break it down, explains Mighton [founder of JUMPMath], would be to say: “Imagine you’re playing a game for money and you lost seven dollars and gained five. Don’t give me a number. Just tell me: Is that a good day or a bad day?”

It isn't clear that it has value other than for those that need the extra steps at a particular point. That is, is it taught with all the micro-steps regardless of the need? I see great promise for those parents who are fully involved in their child's education and can use JUMP Math as means of getting past a particular sticking point. Should be great for math tutors.

Brewer's vetoes - a sign of reason

Brewer vetoes bill allowing guns on campus right of waysArizona Gov. Brewer vetoes presidential 'birther' bill :

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fritz plans run for new City Council term

Fritz plans run for new City Council term: "As a former psychiatric nurse, now with two years' experience inside city government, I am uniquely able to contribute to resolving some of the systemic dysfunctions that lead to tragic outcomes in our community, particularly for people of color and people experiencing mental illnesses."

I am at a loss to understand the importance of being "a former psychiatric nurse," except to other psychiatric nurses. It is no where on my list of qualifications for Portland commissioner. And even if all things were otherwise equal between candidates - it wouldn't sway my vote.

As the Willamette Week noted in an earlier story that while she had stellar attendance record and cast dissenting votes "Fritz hadn't managed to craft, as of August 2010 anyway, a singular achievement." Nothing has changed since August 2010.

She seems to be touting the Office of Equity as her reason to continue as commissioner. The rationale of such an office is suspect, but commissioners ought to be representing Portland - not one segment. When she starts campaigning - maybe we will see some substance - some reason that those who pay taxes can vote for her. Highly unlikely

One wonders about those who get to the point where they run for political office. She has already sacrificed her principles on seeking campaign funds. What will she give up in exchange for the financing?

Sorry when I see pictures of Amanda Fritz I think of someone carrying a basket with jars of homemade jam at the county fair. She doesn't have the necessary political leadership substance. But, that is actually good thing from my perspective.

A German perspective: Scientology - a dangerous cult

"Investigators in the populous western state of North Rhine-Westphalia are concerned that the faith, viewed by many in Germany as a dangerous cult, has orchestrated a targeted campaign to recruit children and teens, the WAZ media group reported on Tuesday." Scientology recruiting kids through Facebook - The Local

FBI thought Demjanjuk evidence faked

AP Exclusive: FBI thought Demjanjuk evidence faked - Yahoo! News. The faked evidence is a Nazi ID card.

"Justice is ill-served in the prosecution of an American citizen on evidence which is not only normally inadmissible in a court of law, but based on evidence and allegations quite likely fabricated by the KGB," the FBI's Cleveland field office said in the 1985 report, four years after the Soviets had shown U.S. investigators the card.

The injustice is that this FBI conclusion was only "discovered" by journalist through diligent perusal at the National Archives. Mr. Demjanjuk is an american citizen, a retired autoworker, on trial in Germany for Nazi war crimes. A trial whose primary evidence is a Nazi ID card is at the end - it isn't clear what effect this will have in a German trial.


Give me a freaking break!

Scientists: Controllers need naps on the job - Yahoo! News

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why was the controller still working?

Top FAA official overseeing air traffic system resigns as additional sleeping controllers come to light | OregonLive.com:

One of the sleeping controllers "was already facing disciplinary action for twice falling asleep during an early-evening shift in January, according to The Seattle Times."

Waiting for the third strike?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Keep calm - keep it in perspective

No New Measures Needed to Counter Radiation Health Risks in Japan. WHO (World Health Organization) - "does not discount the possibility that radiation might be present in some of the food products. But, she says the radiation is so minimal a person would have to consume large quantities of the food for a very long time for it to have a negative effect."

Job Openings on the Rise - NYTimes.com

An interesting perspective depicted in the graph found in the New York Times' Job Openings on the Rise. According to the New York Times  - "the chief problem plaguing the job market during the recovery has not been layoffs but tepid hiring."

What isn't addressed is - why the tepid hiring? World anxiety?

High-speed rail funds cut - that makes sense

Elimination of U.S. high-speed rail funds endangers California's project; and hopefully every other similar state projects. In this case "endangers" is a good thing. It is a project that makes no sense.. But high speed rail is like the Headquarters project - it never dies and its proponents will never cease fueling their pipe dream, of course not at their expense.

If you believe in budget cuts and you are not a "but don't cut my project" person - the elimination of this fund is a blessing not in disguise. For the western states, where the high speed rail has no rational basis, the cut not only saves federal money (our tax dollars) in the present U.S.budget but in the subsequent budgets. The states obviously benefit in not having to fund the difference in project costs.

Tax payers don't win with the building of a high speed rail. Not only would the states contribute to its building, but it would become a continual sink of state subsidies for its operation and maintenance.

High speed train enthusiasts need to scale down to HO.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Schools dictating what kids eat for lunch - an overarching message

The Washington Post has an extensive coverage of all things educational especially as it relates to D.C. A recent post demonstrates the growth in the scope of what schools see as their prerogatives: When schools dictate what kids eat for lunch

The message: There is an "ocean of difference between encouraging and educating kids how to eat and telling families what kids are going to have for lunch." It is the same message for government liberals that attempt to dictate what adults can or cannot eat - encourage and educate but don't dictate. I am amazed just how far over that line liberals have gone.

Interesting is that there is another Washington Post story decrying the value of school vouchers. Is it any wonder why parents are seeking other alternatives to public schools?
Subject to some limitations, there is no valid reason for parents to send their children to public schools.

Alternatives may not always be alternatives

Methane is one of the greenhouse gases that gets no respect as this New York Times article demonstrates: Fugitive Methane Stirs Debate on Natural Gas. The Times states that methane roughly traps 25 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a 100-years time frame. And that "[o]ver a 20-year time horizon, methane is 72 times more potent a greenhouse gas, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

Thus the concern is about the amount of methane gas that may be released from the fracking method of extracting natural gas. There is a good debate going on, but it demonstrates the difficulty in determining the efficacy of an alternative. 

There is no easy answer.

Japan's nuclear alert set at 7

In an earlier post I suggested that the Japan "severity" setting at 7 rather than five was erroneous. It appeared to me that the level ought to be set by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) and not member countries.

What value is a level set by the very country that had the failure? Isn't there an incentive to downplay the setting?

But, it is clear that the IAEA's International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) assigns the responsibility to the country where the event occurs. Their rationale: to prevent "confused understanding of the event [that] may occur from media or from public speculation."

Thus we see in an Al Jazeera article today that Japan raises nuclear alert to highest level. As usual the article is full and has sidebars to help explain the story. A complete read of the article and view of the video demonstrates Al Jazeera's quality journalism.

It is important to take away from the Al Jazeera coverage that the level setting is provisional, that is, it is subject to reassessment; that the amount of activity released was 1/10 of Chernobyl; and that subsequent to the Level 7 announcement, the activity released had dropped below a Level 7 qualification.

The IAEA cautions too: "It is not appropriate to use INES to compare safety performance between facilities, organizations or countries. The statistically small numbers of events at Level 2 and above and the differences between countries for reporting more minor events to the public make it inappropriate to draw international comparisons." [INES].

If you are interested the IAEA website provides a Fukushima update and their INES 2008 User's Manual.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Japan nuke accident severity level a 7 not a 5?

Jack Bog's Blog has a post reporting on this story from Kyodo News: Japan may raise nuke accident severity level to highest 7 from 5. But that story is misleading. While in the end it may well be that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will rate the Japanese reactor failure as a 7 - it hasn't - nor does it seem within the purview of the Japanese government to determine the rating.

The rating system is discussed on the IAEA website. The actual rating applicable to the Japanese event will I surmise be made ex post facto.

Take a peek at the color coded pyramid - it reminds one of the terrorist alerts. What one can derive from this pyramid is that a 7 is the worst but it provides nothing to differentiate between other events that might be rated a 7.

Thus if the Japanese nuclear accident is rated a 7 along side Chernobyl - it doesn't answer the question of which one is worst.

Be patient.

For some great information - see the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Information SheetSummary of reactor unit status (11 April 2011, 06:00 UTC), and Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log.

"Appeals court upholds block on parts of Ariz. law"

The above headline for the Washington Post article is somewhat misleading because the ruling was merely procedural rather than substantive, that is, it did not rule on the constitutionality of the content of the Arizona law.

Arguably, Arizona is attempting to enforce federal laws by enacting similar state laws. It does raise an issue though - when the feds fail to enforce laws that ordinarily benefits the state - does the state have the right to enforce those laws via state legislation?

But, it is a rather easy guess that in the final analysis the law will fail not because of its merits - but because immigration is solely within federal jurisdiction.

Best Portland employers for low-car commuters - PortlandAfoot

PortlandAfoot (see My Blog List to the right) has an interesting post on downtown employers - Best Portland employers for low-car commuters. It is a nice compilation of data for ranking purposes, but it is missing something I would have liked published - the usage.

It is one thing to publish the availability of items like TriMet passes, but a better statistic might be the number (percentage possibly) of employees that make use of the items.

Ah - you can't please everyone.

Obama Is Missing - NYTimes.com

New York Times' Paul Krugman wonders: "What have they done with President Obama?" [Obama Is Missing.] Me too. While his election wasn't a landslide it was a respectful win. "Obama received 365 electoral votes, and McCain 173. (The popular vote was 69,456,897 to 59,934,814, respectively.)" [Wikipedia.]

Obama seems to fit that expression: A riddle wrapped up in an enigma. All the attributes that he was possessed of before election are still there. There seems little doubt that he is very bright and articulate. Yet all that he had to say now seems just plain political rhetoric. He hasn't been able to take his ideals, ideas and hope and transform into application. How come?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Police arrest drunk motorcyclist going 139

139 mph - what kind of vehicle was the police officer riding or driving? [Portland Police Press Release].

12 lock boxes

In the Pearl the Streetcar Lofts Condominiums are very noticeable by their "Go By Streetcar" sign - but it more so because the top floor is now covered in white sheets. Usually this is the result of some defect. The website shows five listings, But even before it was covered - there were a number of lock boxes that seemed excessive. I recently counted 12 at the NW 12th entrance. That number is around 10 per cent of the total units.

Interesting too are the tax assessments and fair market values from 2002 to 2010. Noticed that some (I didn't look at all) of the condos had significant exemptions resulting in annual property taxes less than $400. Interesting too is that in 2007 the appraisal values peaked; and for some, the exemptions ceased causing taxes to increase in 2008. In one case it went from $384.50 in 2007 to $3,383.74 in 2008.

See Portlandmaps for more information.

Military coup in guise of people's revolution?

As the spotlight has shifted away from Egypt, the situation there is arguably reverting to the "good old days." One wonders whether the original stance of the Egyptian military was nothing but a strategic ploy using civilians as their straw man?

A jailed blogger Michael Nabil wrote: “The army and the people are not one hand." “The revolution has so far managed to get rid of the dictator, but the dictatorship still exists.

For the full story see Once a Star of Egypt’s Revolt, the Military Is Under Scrutiny - NYTimes.com.

Interesting notion - citizens shouldn't be responsible for private bank failure

Iceland's Landbanki saving accounts bank in the UK and Netherlands failed causing the UK and Netherlands governments to repay losses suffered by its citizen investors. A sort of deposit insurance. The governments expected reimbursement from Iceland - but two public repayment referendums in Iceland have failed. [BBC News - UK 'disappointment' as Iceland rejects repayment deal].

The opposition says that "the Icelandic taxpayer was under no legal obligation to pay for a private bank's losses and that the deal would put a heavy burden on the nation." 

Well said.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Portland police budget - mission ending

Rescuing Old Town from the drug dealers has made a lot of press and caused the city and the police departments to retrieve from their "tool box" the missions. [See Buy and Slide post and Mayor's letter to Old Town post.]

While I am convinced it will provide relief - it will only be temporary. It will be temporary because the police department will end the missions not because they are successful or not - but because the missions temporarily redeploy personnel that need to return to their regular assignment.

It may be too that some of those assigned to the Old Town missions are performing overtime work. If so - it is obvious that there is a limit to this overtime. And, it must be considered that the police department has historically been undermanned.

While the focus has been on Old Town - Portland has its hands full with gangs. Be that as it may - the increasingly good weather downtown will also add to the police burden. And if it becomes a tug or war between Old Town and downtown - the latter wins.

But the real story found in the Oregonian: Portland police face big budget hole, but officials sidestep the issue during council work session. "If the city cannot fill the several million dollar gap, the bureau faces tough choices, such as laying off as many as 37 officers or keeping up to 40 of the bureau's 981 positions vacant, according to the financial analysts."

It is more than plugging the hole - it is the undermanned department.

Just how many balls can the police juggler keep in the air? Maybe the better question is which ball will he drop?

Mayor's letter to Old Town.

Dear Neighbors and Business Leaders in Old Town-Chinatown,
       
Thank you again for attending our public safety meeting on Tuesday. 

As we discussed, your partnership in the changes we all want to implement in Old Town-Chinatown is key.  Also, we are in discussions with our partners at TriMet and Multnomah County to implement these strategies. Everyone will play a vital role in the coming months, and we appreciate the willingness of all partners to step up and dig in on this problem.

Thank you again to Portland Police Bureau on the recent undercover mission. As I mentioned in the meeting, the mission has already shown results: This week, a Multnomah County grand jury will consider indictments for 32 suspected drug dealers (20 of whom were within 1000 feet of a school) and 10 others for dealing imitation controlled substances. During the mission, another six individuals were arrests on outstanding warrants. Four warrants were for failure to appear on drug charges and two were for probation/parole violations.

I've attached documents and links below for your review, but I wanted to highlight next steps in key areas:

  • We will implement Illegal Drug Impact Areas (IDIAs), and utilize court-imposed stay-away orders in IDIAs, including Old Town-Chinatown, for post-conviction drug users and sellers.
    Status: Talks underway with Multnomah County.

  • I will request the City Council fund a Deputy District Attorney to prosecute more drug possession cases as crimes, and to put emphasis on crime in IDIAs. This strategy works in conjunction with stay-away orders. We will consider re-initiation of walking-beat officers.
    Status: Talks underway with Multnomah County; Mayor to request funding from City Council within two weeks.

  • I will advocate for additional drug treatment and rehabilitation opportunities.
Status: Continue support for Service Coordination Team; Research other opportunities to advocate.

  • Portland Police will periodically place the Police Bureau Mobile Precinct in Old Town-Chinatown.
Status: Mobile Precinct was in Old Town-Chinatown on April 6. It will return again next week.
       
  • City staff will research how to leverage ORS with regard to school zones.
    Status: Underway w/current indictments; researching more possible school zones.

  • City staff will research the use of drug-sniffing dogs to detect hidden drugs in planters, newspaper boxes, other public places.
    Status: Research underway.

  • We will work with TriMet to Improve Transit Mall Safety, exploring ideas such as classical music, more fare inspectors, and video surveillance.
        Status: Beginning talks.

  • We will explore opportunities for increased lighting. 
    Status: ONI team working with businesses on environmental considerations, more research needed on specific locations; We encourage businesses to talk to Crime Prevention Coordinator for evaluations.

  • We will evaluate public restrooms from a public safety perspective. 
    Status: Parks to close SW 8th & Ankeny bathrooms temporarily to consider lighting issues etc, beginning April 8, 2011.


For your reference:

1) I've attached the Powerpoint Presentation from Tuesday, updated with our comments
2) Here is a link to ONI's resources on crime prevention: http://www.portlandonline.com/oni/index.cfm?c=53530
And here are some links to coverage you might find useful:

1) Mayor's blog report on Tuesday’s meeting:  http://www.portlandonline.com/mayor/index.cfm?c=52750&a=344692
       
2) The Oregonian: Mayor Sam Adams offers Old Town leaders, residents proposals to curb drug activity

and Pushing back on drugs is a leadership challenge

2) The Portland Tribune: Adams vows to help Old Town


Please feel free to contact my staff with any questions:

Amreet Sandhu
Public Safety & Peacekeeping Policy Adviser
P: (503) 823-4182
E: Amreet.Sandhu@portlandoregon.gov

Antionette EdwardsPublic Safety & Peacekeeping Policy Director
P: (503) 823-4779
E: Antionette.Edwards@portlandoregon.gov

My best and thanks again,
Sam