Sunday, July 31, 2011

Debt crisis resolved - people 0 wealthy and big business 100%

Boehner trumpets GOP influence in debt debate. It may not be a total loss for the middle and working class - damn near though. I don't think the later analysis will be much different.

American justice and a sign of a less than well society

Anthony Offered Half Million To Pose Nude: "“We can’t trash our legal system and try to dismantle it or set it aside just because we’re not happy with one particular verdict,” he [Larry Flynt, Hustler Magazine] said. “You know, people need to get a life and move on.”"

She hasn't accepted - but there is just something not right about this deal. The mere fact that someone is trying to make a buck off the death of Caylee is disturbing.

We are left with Karma.

Old Town drug free zone is working - no surprise there

The Portland Tribune notes that the drug free zone in Old Town is having positive effects. It shouldn't come as any surprise that drug free zones work. They are a proven tool. But, the combined administrations of Potter and Adams had left Old Town swinging in the wind. The influence of outsiders - those often labeled as liberals - left Old Town defenseless.

There is an interesting dichotomy. On one hand the neighborhood and the police support the drug free zones, but the county and judges, in effect, don't. While never mentioned in the Tribune article - the policy of the county jail was to issue 'promise to appear in court' citations to those arrested. It led to the joke that wasn't - the arrested were back in Old Town before the arresting cop.

The county judges have also been lax in punishment, mostly handing out probation rather than jail time. The effect of the county jail and judges was that a drug dealer spent no time in jail, meanwhile continuing to sell his (mostly a male endeavor) wares in the Old Town drug market.

The real green problem - more than 9 billion humans by 2050

World Population to Top 9 Billion by 2050, 49% Growth from Africa. Of course with this kind of population growth in an area that is mostly undeveloped - carbon footprints will be the least of the worries. They are not being fed now despite the ability of the world to feed them.

This from The Independent: "Increasing numbers of children are dropping dead on the long trek to refugee camps. Those who do get there are more severely malnourished than ever before."

Literacy a solution, at least partial, to over population? See this New York Times article: Literacy and the Population Problem. Interesting too is that the Times notes that population estimate for 2050 is over 10 billion.

Adams - too far astray

Sam Adams lost his way when he determined years ago to run for mayor. It seemed like a logical move on a career path. He was Vera Katz's chief of staff. And he was the transportation commissioner. By most accounts he did well. It wasn't until he stepped into the mayoral political arena that the worst of him came out.

Who do the Democrats represent?

Stanley Greenberg writes in the New York Times this Sunday the why voters are eschewing the Democrats. His day job is the chief executive of a polling company for center-left parties. This article is not about political issues, but more about why the middle and working class find no refuge in the Democratic party. It is too, without intention, a brief on the rise of third party politics. This rise pf third parties might well radicalized this country far beyond rescue.

I find this paragraph especially pertinent:

"GOVERNMENT operates by the wrong values and rules, for the wrong people and purposes, the Americans I’ve surveyed believe. Government rushes to help the irresponsible and does little for the responsible. Wall Street lobbyists govern, not Main Street voters. Vexingly, this promotes both national and middle-class decline yet cannot be moved by conventional democratic politics. Lost jobs, soaring spending and crippling debt make America ever weaker, unable to meet its basic obligations to educate and protect its citizens. Yet politicians take care of themselves and party interests, while government grows remote and unresponsive, leaving people feeling powerless."

There is more good stuff to read.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Good news - Adams not running. Duh!

Willamette Week has the mayor's letter stating his intent not to run. But is the bad news there is no better candidate?

Man jailed for throwing rocks but aiding murder gets no jail time

Compare and contrast these two stories - both from KGW. Man jailed for throwing rocks at Ashland girls and No jail time after deadly Old Town assault. What is the difference - the locale?

Thank you for your service

Little Support for 'Pay Troops First' Bill. In event of a federal government shutdown - seeming more likely - the bill gives our troops priority in the "who gets paid" list. Apparently only few lawmakers have signed on - these all Republicans.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Portland auditor warns about debt

The articles (Tribune and Oregonian) about the auditor's report that warns about the city's debt reads like that found on Jack Bog's Blog. Even a casual reader of his blog knows that he has been fuming about the city's debt especially the unfunded pension liabilities. He even has a long term debt calculator situated in the left column. Today he has the debt per each person in Portlandia at about $11,000.

Of course there is the defensive criticism coming from those who have a responsibility for the situation. Their main defense (or excuse) is that other cities are worse off. That is nice to know.

What me worry? Leave it to others to pay for it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A public appeal for developers - sad PDC effort

PDC - Centennial Mills Redevelopment Opportunity: "We are looking for public service-minded investors to take on a wonderfully iconic but challenging project in a public and private joint venture: the redevelopment of Centennial Mills—a 111-year-old former mill and wheat processing facility on downtown Portland’s Willamette River."

Read the rest. Public trolling for developers is a sad state of affairs. Maybe they should have stayed with the developer they had.

Disturbing pandering to right wing extremists by Italy's Ex-Berlusconi minister

"Interviewed on a popular radio show, Francesco Speroni, a leading member of the Northern League, the junior partner in Berlusconi's conservative coalition, said: "Breivik's ideas are in defence of western civilisation."" [Ex-Berlusconi minister defends Anders Behring Breivik.]

PDC union deal

The headline "talks" of $300,000 pay raise and new holiday - but that is misleading. And not surprisingly the trolls got it all wrong especially with their talk of bonuses and management. This expenditure is about workers basic pay - not management.

The real issue is that it took union representation and a year of negotiation for employees to obtain a holiday that other city workers receive and to obtain a pretty miserable pay increase. PDC is an anti-worker, anti-union workplace. PDC workers have never had the same compensation that is received by other city workers. It is that anti-worker attitude that brought the union to PDC.

It is beyond belief the knee jerk reaction to unions.

Mexico judge sentence - that will teach him

A teenage US citizen was sentenced as a juvenile in Mexico to 3 years in jail for killing four people who were (hopefully) then beheaded. He is 14 years old. His citizenship comes from US birth.

To think - after 3 years he will probably be deported to the US.

Deficits: There never was a surplus | The Economist

The Economist
"James Fallows explains: "As the figures demonstrated, the Bush-era tax cuts, extended last year under Obama, were the biggest single policy source of deficit increase over the past ten years."" [Deficits: There never was a surplus | The Economist.]

The chart is just a start of an excellent analysis by the Economist. I am not saying that I agree, but the Economist's view of the US is about in the political middle. Always worth the read.

US has the authority to spy via your cell phone

"When the general counsel of the National Security Agency was asked if the government was tracking citizens using data collected by their cell phones, the NSA’s Matthew Olsen said it does indeed have that authority but stopped there, saying that “it is a very complicated question.Government admits to spying through your cell phone — RT:

The ability can't be denied, but having the authority is new. And as the article makes clear - it is the "intelligence community" that is determining the parameters.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

KGW: Old Town businesses want help battling crime

The problem is not crime - it is the Old Town crime that has come to make Old Town Old Town. This from the police spokesperson: "Probably the City of Portland and the police bureau bring more resources to bare in this general area, probably per capita, or per square foot than anywhere else in the city of Portland."

So why hasn't the police done a better job in such a small area? It is about 46 blocks whose boundaries seem to act as physical boundaries to lock crime in - not out. The adjacent neighborhoods do not have anywhere near the same crime rate. We are talking drug dealing, drug using and those criminal acts normally associated with drugs.

I submit the police failure is because they operate reactively not proactively. Mission sweeps and temporary increased patrols result in "cool downs" not long term solutions. Also, the city is happy with using Old Town as a confines to contain the criminal element that the city would rather see in Old Town than elsewhere.

Where are the resident and business neighborhood associations? Old Town also lacks the will to make a change - they would rather stand by and whine. Don't ask them to stand up and be counted.

And thrown into the fray by the media is PDC "investments." It is not clear why we should be listening to Pinocchio, but it is clear that PDC's "investments" demonstrate the lack of catalytic value. 

The situation is not new in Old Town. The "news" is that there is a new voice trying to make a difference. Good luck!

Palestinian statehood - what is there to debate?

Al Jazeera's Stream has excellent coverage of this subject. The Stream presents a decent discussion about Palestinian statehood. While framed as a debate - the Israeli side appeared intransigent. I submit that a two state solution is the only viable long term option; it is imperative that it happens sooner rather than later.

Palestinians have way too much in common with Native Americans (First People of the America). There is an immense power imbalance - however one describes "power" - favoring Israel. Arguably, Israel like the early US is doing everything possible to eradicate the Palestinians rather than to seek a honest political solution. See Wikipedia for a rather excellent article on the Palestinian people.

US blacklist extends to its airspace

The Guardian has this article on a Mexican plane denied use of US Airspace and returned to Mexico because a passenger was apparently on a US blacklist. The plane's only connection with the US is the use of airspace, it wasn't to touch down in the US. I found it interesting mostly because of what I don't know about control of US airspace.

One wonders how they - US powers to be - knew of the plane's passenger list. Are airlines required to furnish the list if flying over the US? Interestingly enough the flight path seems to use a lot of US airspace. See this Google site for approximate calculation of path.

There might even be a good reason why the passenger is on a blacklist - he offers it himself. But the gist of the story is that passengers ought to be able to challenge the blacklist. Query - would Raquel Gutierrez, Ph.D. be bounced off the plane? [Do a Google search.]

Silk purse out of sow's ear

Politicians are the same everywhere. Check out UK's prime minister comments on their economic growth. In the first three months the GDP growth was .5%. This quarter the growth was .2%. It is going in the wrong direction - yet the prime minister saw it as positive. Positive as compared to what? Zero?

Of course it is never the fault of those in charge. It was the "one-off factors such as the additional bank holiday for the royal wedding, the wedding itself, the first phase of Olympic ticket sales, record warm weather in April and the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami." That from the Office of National Statistics.

The royal wedding? Talk about a fragile economy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Old Town's drug problems continue - not surprising

The Oregonian attempts to picture two environments in Old Town - one safe and one not. I lived there for 6 years and at no time was Old Town safe. It had its moments like when TriMet moved the buses for construction of light rail on 5th and 6th. But after the construction was finished, and some time prior, Old Town reverted back to its drug market roots. I wrote about it in my Old Town Blog. [Interesting Oregonlive has never taken it down.]

Original art by Enrico Mazzanti
The PDC representative quoted in the Oregonian article is playing word games rather than speaking the truth. He has been PDC's representative in Old Town for at least 7 years and he has participated in most every neighborhood meeting. He knows that Old Town is not safe and that it is getting less safe as time progresses. Given the past year's crimes in Old Town - his pants must be on fire.

He is part of the PDC culture that will say anything to get a business location "sale" in Old Town. There is little difference between a PDC representative and the proverbial used car salesman. The PDC rep doesn't live there much like the car salesman doesn't have to drive the car.

Another Portland first - Travel taxes

According to The Economist - "The cities that impose the highest discriminatory travel taxes on travelers are:

1. Portland, OR
2. Boston, MA
3. Minneapolis, MN
4. New York, NY
5. Chicago, IL"

Vatican recalls its Ireland envoy

The apparent cause, or maybe the last straw, was Ireland prime minister's statement that the church's attitude reflects "a culture of 'dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism' at the Vatican." This isn't any surprise. See too an earlier post. The Vatican sits in virtually the middle of Rome, but, in reality the Vatican is as isolated in this world as if it were located on the moon.

The Catholic church's moral authority has long been in doubt. The Vatican's city-state status came about via negotiations with the Italian fascist government of Mussolini. See too the 1929 Lateran Treaty. Its silence in view of the Holocaust can never be justified or ignored. And, the Catholic church has a tawdry history. It is not surprising that child abuse is on their list of ok things to do.

BlaBlaMeter - exposing the bullshit

Now here is a website that really has a function. Of course I tested one of my posts and passed  - or else I may not have told you about it. I am not sure how practical it is, but it does offer a simple way of examining a writer's style. [Website deflates writers full of hot air.]

Sunday, July 24, 2011

U.S. wastes $34 billion in Afghan and Iraq private contracting

"The United States has wasted some $34 billion on service contracts with the private sector in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a [bipartisan] study being finalized for Congress." [U.S. wastes $34 billion in Afghan and Iraq contracting.]

Why is the spending in these countries sacrosanct? Doesn't seem that the debt ceiling - increased taxes discussion and rancor is misdirected?

Catholic church's latest trick

The Catholic church in Ireland , the country with the more egregious incidents of child abuse by priests, is trying a new trick to avoid accountability and responsibility. "[T]he church [in Ireland] claimed that it is not 'vicariously liable' for priests' actions." Thus, priests are not employees of the church, therefore, the individual not the church is to be held accountable.

Just when you think the church couldn't stoop any lower.

WTF: Brazil needs nuclear subs?

Brazil's new nuclear subs to defend oil wells. Of course they need a sub to protect their oil wells - really? And, of course the expected defensive statement: ""Brazil has no expansionist or aggressive intentions."" But, "the 1982 Malvinas-Falkland Islands war between the UK and Argentina would have had a different outcome if Argentina had had a fleet of nuclear submarines to back up its claim to the islands."

""Brazil is taking another step toward affirming its status as a developed country with sophisticated industry capable of absorbing, mastering and using advanced technologies."" But Brazil wants the world, especially its South American neighbors, to know that this is not about expansion or aggressive intent. So, why does this sophisticated country need weapons of war?

Submarines may cost $1 billion or more. One might argue that they could better spend their dollars. Stopping the deforestation is one. Lowering the 26% poverty rate might be another. See the CIA Factbook for more details on their economy, government, etc.

So, the US apparently has no concern, yet it is still punishing Cuba for Russia's actions in the 1960s. Oddly, it is France that is exporting nuclear technology in assisting Brazil with its nuclear weapons. It may be that the submarine may be incapable of launching nuclear missiles - but what are the chances?

Whatever happened to nuclear non-proliferation?

Norway the irony

Peaceful Norway. No one here or there ever anticipated this violence. Citizens are peaceful. Police don't necessarily carry guns. Extremists are extreme in words not in violent conduct. But it seems all too true that extreme ideas lead to extreme violence. But it could have been worse.

Oddly ironic is that the police didn't have access to a helicopter and that caused their SWAT team to drive to where they could pick up a boat to access the island where almost all the killing took place. The police took 40 (police version) to 90 (witnesses' version) minutes to get to the island. He was caught alive. There was no shoot-out with the police. But the death toll stands at 90 or so merely because the terrorist (maybe 2) ran out of ammo.

Peaceful Norway just wasn't and isn't prepared to deal with this violence. Strangely that is a good thing. They didn't see the need. I hope they don't transform their society in reaction to this isolated terrorist act.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Feds investigating police offer private meetings with public

The Tribune's article raises some concerns. I am not even sure why - but there seems to be something not quite right about this approach. Arguably - if there is not enough "dirt" in the public domain - why dig? I wonder if the complaints and investigation will be made public?

Deterrence to corporate malfeasance

Sentenced to death but with good behavior commuted to life imprisonment. [Former China Mobile Executive Sentenced in Bribery Case.]

Bojack 2 PolitiFact 0

I thought it was strange that PolitiFact determined to question the veracity of blogger Jack Bogdanski. [PolitiFact Oregon | Blogger says Mary Nolan is a party-line Democrat who voted with the ACLU 100 percent of the time.] They found him accurate, but why look?  Was it via PolitiFact's email nomination process?

It seems that it is a real coup for him - reputation enhanced and respectability earned. I think it is well deserved - no blogger does a better job and no newspaper either. He fills in the space the local news media misses or ignores, and often sharpens the focus of the issue.

Norway gunman - "a right-winger with anti-Muslim views"

Norwegian Television
Sorry Fox - it wasn't a Muslim extremist - just the opposite:  "suspected attacker [is] Anders Behring Breivik, a blond and blue-eyed Norwegian who expressed right-wing and anti-Muslim views on the Internet."  [Gunman's background puzzles police in Norway.]

How about these other facts: "legally owned several firearms and belonged to a gun club;" "no criminal record except for some minor offenses;" and "he didn't belong to any known factions."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ah Old Town - drug deal, incredible stupidity, and police restraint

Police Press Release: "Portland Police Arrest Man With BB Gun After Disturbance in Old Town." It is a story of drug deal and incredible stupidity. Apparently the disturbance was that in a drug deal gone awry a gun was pulled but the other person punched the gun holder and departed. The stupid part comes from the fact that the gun was really a BB gun. When police arrived he was non-compliant with police demands.  Luckily the police used a Taser to disable him rather than shooting him.

Portland transportation twit tweets
The Oregonian's Joseph Rose: Portland transportation boss Tom Miller tweets (and untweets) criticism of car-free Ankeny.

The tweet: “Off record, I can't believe how sterile Ankeny biz owners made the st. Zero personality in their set up. Worried market won't embrace it."

One wonders why anyone cares what he thinks about the market?

The red dot on the left of the image marks 3rd and to its right west to east is Ankeny. See the second image for a view of the street from SW 2nd to SW 3rd.
While the bikers seem to want to take credit - it was a business issue. The street is relatively narrow and served no real purpose except maybe as a shortcut between the two streets. Businesses has lobbied for this change for years and finally it has been implemented.

It gives a nice flavor to that area without hampering traffic flow or inconveniencing anyone. It should make the business on that street more attractive.

Hey Portland - Survey says: Consumers prefer gasoline vehicles

Autoblog Green notes that not only did consumers prefer gasoline vehicles - electric vehicles were last in their preferences. And for those who want (that reads dictate) everyone to ride bicycles - see this PubliCola article on the value of cars to women. I would argue that many of the same reasons apply to men too. [Thanks to Bojack for the link.]

Uwe E. Reinhardt: Is There Hope for the Unemployed? -

NYT - Economix
It is an intriguing article but discouraging: Uwe E. Reinhardt: Is There Hope for the Unemployed? The image at the left demonstrates where the growth is and isn't.

Economix definitions: "In the tradable category are manufactured goods, farm products, raw materials and financial, consulting, educational, computing and other technical services. Prominent in the nontradable sector are government, health care, retailing, construction, restaurants and, for the most part, legal services." {Underling added.]

What is disturbing - but not a surprise is that government and health care are the major job creators. And the jobs added in the tradable sector were "primarily in high-value services." Lost were manufacturing jobs (low value) via outsourcing.

The Economix rhetorically asks: can cutting back "on government and health care spending –- add up to a rosy future jobs picture?"

Boyds Coffee closing two stores

One of the Boyds' stores closing is in the Pearl. I used to go there but they seemed to go out of their way not to be a retail store. It was an odd location. Not only was seating sparse - but the service was never consistent. I never had the impression that retail sales was the purpose. An espresso coffee at more than $3 deserves to be made correctly and consistently and not on the whim of the server. Oh well - they are gone. Maybe they will approach the next retail venture differently.

The next venture is a coffee truck. Yes a coffee truck, not trucks. Read the Oregonian for those details.

Incomprehensible: No jail time for participation in deadly Old Town assault

Read the KGW story. It is seemingly a tragic miscarriage of justice. He participated in a murder. In this state, as in many if not most states, that makes you as guilty as the person who in fact caused the death. Maybe there are facts not published by KGW - but it is difficult to believe that there are any facts that can make this a just sentence. The sentence: "36 months formal probation plus in patient treatment."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why no Portland public school winners?

I wrote about Naomi Shah, a 16 year old Sunset High student who has won two prestigious awards, Google and Intel. Her school is not particularly academically outstanding, but it is located in Beaverton. Beaverton schools seem to be just better than Portland public schools. Or better said - Portland public schools can't compete with other schools - public or not.

A case in point. Take a peek at the winners in this article: Washington County students bring home armloads of awards from the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. In the list of winners the only Portland schools are private. Why is that?

Why a large city such as Portland consistently fails to produce outstanding students appears to be of little concern. Teachers, unions, and supporters of public schools have a myriad of excuses. From them we know it is not the teachers' fault. It is the student-to teacher ratio, it is the spending per pupil, it is the number of low income students, it is the number of students with English as second language, it the ethnicity of the students, etc.

Very impressive: Sunset High School student among top three winners in Google Science Fair

Chalk this achievement up to the student (and I suspect to her parents' encouragement and expectations too). A Beaverton high school student is an award winner again. The latest: Sunset High School teenager among top three winners in Google Science Fair.] Previously she "was awarded first place in the environmental sciences category during the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair . . ."

There is nothing particularly outstanding about Sunset High, The federal rating in 2010 shows a decent achievement but for some reason it has been labeled as being on the troubled list. But Great Schools rates it 9 out of 10. There are three items that I found interesting though - student-teacher ratio of 20:1, 11 advance placement exams, and about $600 less that the state average spending per pupil.

The student Naomi Shah, age 16, very impressive student. A bright future earned.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stand for Children

Stand for Children: "Our mission is to use the power of grassroots action to help all children get the excellent public education and strong support they need to thrive. "The local news has caught up with the Washington Post coverage of the story. See Portland Tribune's Simmering discontent puts Stand for Children in hot water and Stand for Children pushes back against critics.

It is an interesting story about dissent in the organization's ranks,  But I found it more interesting that this organization, like many non-profits, is more about political issues than that of  being for the children. Examples: Oregon state kicker reform and lowering of Oregon's capital gains tax were two of the issues being pushed locally and nationally it appears the organization was more of anti-union operation. It is just more evidence how democracy (that reads politics) is for the wealthy and special interest groups.

Our role - people like myself and others who can be safely categorized as working and middle class - is to follow along. It is our dollars that they are interested in. Of course everyone has a vested interest in children's education - the quality, or lack thereof, of education has a substantial direct effect on every aspect of society.

Vaccinations are a CIA plot

If that had been a headline in most any publication I would have moved on without reading, but it comes from the Economist: The Bin Laden vaccine: Yes, vaccinations are a CIA plot.

"[R]ecent revelation [is] that the CIA ran an operation to verify Osama bin Laden's location by gathering DNA samples through a false-flag hepatitis B vaccination programme." As the Economist notes in its quote of an Atlantic article - "American officials are defending this operation, not denying it."

Economist: "This is despicable and stupid." Amen!

TriMet: Cracking Down on Fare Evasion

A recent addition to my inbox today: TriMet: Cracking Down on Fare Evasion. I guess the Tribune made a mistake in designating the new hires as supervisors whereas TriMet clearly states it is hiring new inspectors.

I am in favor of either a free ride or a paid ride. I am not convinced that fares contribute that much to operating revenue and it doesn't contribute to debt reduction. But that is another story.

If a fare is being charged then it is fair that everyone pay. I don't ride TriMet that often although I did at one time ride it frequently in the old Fareless Zone. But, if I had to ride it everyday - I might be tempted not to pay considering a risk vs cost analysis, especially if I knew that the odds of being challenged was low. By the way when I ride it now - I pay.

I can also rationalize a reluctance to pay not having a slightest input on TriMet expenditures. The continual expansion at taxpayer's expense causes much angst. Would the fare be as much if we had just the basic TriMet system without the expansion to the Columbia River, Milwaukee, etc?

It would be interesting ("would" because it is unlikely that the media will follow-up on it) to know if there is an increase in fares that offsets the compensation (that is more than salary) for the new inspectors. I think not.

[Editor notes: Portland Afoot states that the compensation for the additional inspectors is $580,000. A June 2010 TriMet financial document notes that the fare revenue was about $94,000. You do the math.]

Monday, July 18, 2011

Portland is without Borders

Borders seeks bankruptcy court approval to liquidate all 399 stores - The Washington Post

Default could 'sink the whole boat'

That is the scary headline by AP in their story Default could 'sink the whole boat.' Not raising the debt ceiling could lead to catastrophic political and financial circumstances. The Republicans have determined to risk their political future playing one on one with the president. If the debt ceiling isn't raised - it will be the Republicans that will bear the brunt of the fall out. It has already started.

The Republicans have tried to hoodwink the electorate by connecting budget expenditures with the debt ceiling. They would have you believe that not raising the debt ceiling - their position - would balance the budget. Not true.

The raising of the debt ceiling permits the US to pay its bills. "In other words: raising the debt ceiling does not authorize mores spending–we have already done that. Borrowing simply allows us to pay for the obligations that have already been made. Voting on the debt ceiling is not voting on the budget." [What is the Debt Ceiling?]

Rupert Murdoch's hacking empire

In the US it wasn't phone messages that were hacked. See Rupert Murdoch's Other Hacking Scandal. And in the UK, the hacking scandal keeps growing. See John Yates resigns from Met police over phone-hacking scandal. Also, see News of the World phone-hacking whistleblower found dead. Although the death is being treated as not suspicious the timing is likely to stir the conspiracy pot.

Communities have right to ban mosques

Who said this? Herman Cain. It is ironic for a black man to make this assertion. If communities can ban mosques, then why not a church or synagogue? A logical extension would ban Muslims in the communities.

Demagogue thinking: "The people in the community know best. And I happen to side with the people in the community." Isn't that the type of thinking that justified racial segregation and slavery?

Too bad that Mr. Cain can't join with the sentiments of Thomas Paine: "For myself, I fully and conscientiously believe that it is the will of the Almighty that there should be a diversity of religious opinions among us. It affords a larger field for our Christian kindness; were we all of one way of thinking, our religious dispositions would want matter for probation; and on this liberal principle I look on the various denominations among us to be like children of the same family, differing only in what is called their Christian names."

I am both amused and amazed that political candidates for the highest office of this country haven't a speck of understanding about the constitution or US traditions. So far, many of the Republican candidates seem to be  christian ideologues seeking the presidency based upon demagoguery.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cutting losses

I wonder what kind of "severance" packages Mr. Hinton and Ms. Brooks received? Murdoch is smartly eliminating the basis for criticism from the other media. By Monday - things will be quiet. There will be no rough ride. Parliament will have little to question Murdoch about.

Germany to fund new coal plants. Huh?

Does this make any sense? Germany is in the process of eliminating nuclear power plants, but isn't funding new coal plants counter productive? [Germany to fund new coal plants with climate change fund cash].

Saving the world one prostitute at a time

The Willamette Week (Week) assuming the proper journalist role  followed up on the $643,000 city funded program New Options for Women (NOW). It is a program to "save" prostitutes. The Week  notes that the program failed to meet key benchmarks and raised privacy issues.  Of course the city claims success.

The Week takes its cues from a report produced by the very people that are in charge of the program. Thus it lacks accountability and transparency that ought to come from an independent report. But even this self report did not shine so bright.

This program arose out the 82nd Avenue prostitution problems. Like every thing else the city waited until the public was about to lynch the commissioners before they acted. Rather than the deterrence of arrest of prostitutes (and johns) the city seeks to reform them.

Ireland - failure of church officials to report child abuse is criminal conduct.

Ireland Confronts the Vatican by passing new law that makes "it a crime for anyone, church officials included, to fail to report child abuse to civil authorities." Despite new church rules promulgated after the 1996 scandal, child abuse were continuing as late as 2009. The Vatican had warned "Irish church leaders against full cooperation with law enforcement authorities."

The Vatican and church leaders just don't get it. Those who should be in the forefront of combating child abuse are instead perpetrating and sanctioning child abuse.

Green isn't so simple

Some environmentalists in Germany are not pleased with Lufthansa's potential use of biofuel: It "will just result in the mass expansion of crop cultivation necessary to create the biofuel mixture, leading to “worldwide destruction of forests, loss of biodiversity and competition for food.”"" [Not everyone cheering Lufthansa biofuel test].

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Erik Sten Wiki entry

If one wants to read something rather funny - funny peculiar - read the Wikipedia entry for Erik Sten. Maybe written by Erik Sten.

Leonard and water bureau spending

I suggested that history might be kind to Mr. Leonard, but it seems that he and the Oregonian are doing their best to insure otherwise. I am not too sure why it seems that the Oregonian is exposing the real Randy Leonard only after he announced his intention not to run again. And why is it that these guys can't go quietly?

Review board unanimously rules fatal shooting at Hoyt Arboretum justified

It was a no brainer. But take a peek at the comments to the Oregonian article. The anti-cop crowd always want it their way. Never mind that they were not at the hearing or reviewed all the evidence or heard testimony - if you don't agree with them - you are wrong. Oh yes - they have at the ready off the shelf conspiracy theories. If the ruling had gone against the cop - they would have been praising the board. Go figure.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More federalization of local police activities

The police Press Release tells the story of drug arrests, apparently in Old Town area, by the Portland police in conjunction with NCIS. Not the TV show, but the real deal. It is told that this "partnership" has existed for several years - it is news to me, but that is not unusual.

It is doubtful that one "partners" with a federal law enforcement agency. And it seems to be a tenuous connection between the ordinary jurisdiction of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Portland drug arrests.

"The NCIS mission is to investigate and defeat criminal, terrorist, and foreign intelligence threats to the United States Navy and Marine Corps, wherever they operate, ashore or afloat."

I am all in favor of drug arrests - but not in favor of federalization.

US airports still vulnerable to attacks?

Jason Chaffetz: "More than 25,000 security breaches have occurred at US airports since November 2001, a congressional panel has heard." [US airports still vulnerable to attacks, says lawmaker].

So what is a breach? I love the way we told things that require absolute faith in the government to believe. It reeks of more scare tactics.

And who is Jason Chaffetz?

She cut off his penis then . . . .

That is the good part - here is the really bad part. She not only cut it off - she put it into a garbage disposal. Suffice to say it can't be re-attached. The story says it was a result of an argument about friends staying over. While we know who won the argument - you know that there is more to this story.

Sisters Coffee - in the Pearl - further thoughts

Sisters is located at the corner of NW 12th and NW Marshall. It opened in April. See the last post and original post. Little has changed - and that is the only issue - little has changed. It is good coffee and the people are clearly friendly in a sort of rural, not city, friendly. Inefficiencies abound.

I realize that the leased space presents inherent difficulties. The argument would be - that if they started from scratch in their owned space with their design - things would be different. So what are my problems? They are really minor but irritating for a frequent customer.

They moved the register close to the pastry display - that is good. Most coffee shops I go too have the display out of the line of sight requiring one to leave the line to determine what pastries are available. But they have no napkin dispenser close by. And they don't give one with the pastry.

If you order espresso coffee - the pick up is at the far end of the space. There at the very back is the napkin dispenser buried behind the stirrers, cream, etc. It would be just as easy for the pickup and other items to be located on the other side of the espresso machine nearer to the center of the shop and register. There is plenty of counter space available. By the way the stairs to the upper level is completely opposite to the present pickup area.

Entrance to the shop is immediately met by tables that force customers to the left or right to access the register. And there is no indication upon entry where the ordering is done. The better entrance is on the side - but that is not ordinarily a pedestrian used street. That part of 13th has nothing to cause pedestrians to be on that side of the coffee shop. My point - I guess - is that it can be awkward getting to the register coming through the front door.

The pastry selection is still poor. Some of it - maybe all - is made by them. Except for the scones the prices are too high for what you get. The croissants are tasty - but not always - and small. Small enough that the $2 price tag feels like a ripoff. I guess what I am looking for is the tried and true regular sized croissants, danishes, muffins, etc. They do have banana bread but while fresh - it has a distinct taste.

Finally - the inefficiencies are, I believe, a result of inexperience. For example, the container for self-bussing tables is retrieved and taken to be emptied then brought back empty. It is a simple efficiency move to bring an empty container and replace the full one.

I would be ecstatic if there were napkins available near the center of the store and that the order pick up was there also. But Sisters is a good addition to Pearl and I will continue to go there despite my nitpicking

What a crock? Priests no more likely to commit sex abuse than other men

That is a conclusion from the Catholic Church in Germany. Let's assume that it is a valid conclusion, that is, a young child is as likely to be abused by someone who is not a priest as by a priest - why don't we find the same abuse incidents in other religions?  [See Priests no more likely to commit sex abuse than other men, researcher says.]

Better yet - how can a religion that holds itself out as THE representative of God on earth have recruited priests - it is typically a recruitment process - that are either pedophiles or pedophile sympathizers?

And does this from the person commissioned by the Church to study sexual abuse in Germany really make sense? “Priests who sought sexual contact (in the US) in violation of celibacy have increasingly easily found adult partners.”  “This has apparently contributed to lessening the risk to children and youths that priests assault them.”

Adult sexual partners lessen the risks of child sexual abuse?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The jobs aren't there - more stimulus is needed

The New York Times reports that Nearly 5 Workers for Every Available Job. Quoting Henry Mo, vice president for economics at Credit Suisse: “Even if all job vacancies were filled overnight, almost 11 million workers would still be left unemployed.

Arguments about the debt ceiling are irrational. The debt ceiling is about past borrowing. The economy needs growth stimulus.

The Kauffman Foundation reports that small business, they provide the bulk of job opportunities, are starting up with fewer jobs than the historic norm and are "adding fewer workers as they grow."

WWII secret pipeline

I have watched many documentaries about WWII especially those about the European theater - but I never heard of this pipeline that was laid between England and France. It had a code name of PLUTO (Pipeline under the ocean). "By March 1945, one-million gallons of were being delivered each day and Allied success was assured." [Secret Pipeline – WW II Offshore Technology.] See too "Now It Can Be Told! - 'Operation Pluto'" and Operation Pluto for more details.

Convicted felon with 17 firearms

The police Press Release has the details. Without meaning to - it casts doubt on the efficacy of city, or even federal, gun control laws. Here is a (one) person who had no trouble acquiring these guns. It sort of plays into the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" NRA theme. But, I am more than happy though that the guns are off the streets.

It is interesting too that this is the work of  Portland's Gun Task Force. But I am not impressed with the results: "Since its inception in October 2010, [it] has seized 129 firearms in the Portland Metro Area."  Not in Portland but the Portland Metro area. Who pays for that task force? Feds? Counties in the Metro area?

That is 14.3 guns per month. Is that an impressive total for 3 counties? I wonder how much that translates to weapons per arrested person. Again - don't get me wrong - I am happy that these folks are arrested (and hopefully convicted?) and that any number of guns are removed from the hands of criminals like this convicted felon.

One wonders too - are these the guns that find their way into the gangs?

In the light of day we can see them for what they are

Politicians that normally are in the shadows often reveal their true selves when the public light is cast upon them. Leon Panetta links Iraq war to al-Qaeda is an example. Long time Democratic politico recently CIA head and now defense secretary "suggested that U.S. troops are in Iraq as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks.. . . ."

From CBS News: "The reason you guys [military] are here is because on 9/11 the United States got attacked," said Panetta, according to the Washington Post. "And 3,000 Americans -- 3,000 not just Americans, 3,000 human beings, innocent human beings -- got killed because of al-Qaeda. And we've been fighting as a result of that."

Pretty soon we will be hearing about the WMDs.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cost of Iraq and Afghanistan wars

Cost of War to the United States:

Federal intimidation

Typically when I think of federal intimidation it usually concerns some federal law enforcement agency: JTTF, FBI, TSA, etc. The feds get their way by puffing up their chest letting everyone know who they are and what they can do. The feds looking over the police department's shoulder  is good example of federal intrusion and intimidation. Beware if you piss them off.

But intrusion and intimidation comes from other quarters of the federal government too. In this case it is the General Services Administration (GSA). It is the two recently publicized incidents surrounding the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) project (jail) in the South Waterfront that ought to do more than just raise eyebrows.

Fusion not fission - why not?

The New York Times' How Seawater Can Power the World raises the fusion question again. In theory the necessary material can be extracted from seawater. But it isn't the available of the material that is at issue - it is the science and the cost of developing the science. [See the Times for the particulars of the fusion science.]

The New York Times:  "Fusion energy generates zero greenhouse gases. It offers no chance of a catastrophic accident. It can be available to all nations, relying only on the Earth’s oceans. When commercialized, it will transform the world’s energy supply."

There are 7 nations, including the US, that are collaborating in the research and development. But, according to the article's author, the US is not a full partner. Moreover, the US is not developing its research facilities as are many other nations.

$30 billion and 20 years could lead to the first fusion reactor in US. The author notes that $30 billion equates "to about a week of domestic energy consumption." Another comparison - to date - the cost of the Iraq war has been over $786 billion.

What is a better use of the money?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A great idea: Mideast facebook page linking Israelis with Palestinians

This is the idea - "[a]t a time when Arabs generally shun contact with Israelis [and vice versa], those on the site [can] speak openly about their desire to learn more about one another." [See Mideast Facebook Page Links Israelis to Palestinians.]

This from the website: "The aim of the movement is to empower the young people of the Middle East (ages 15-30) to lead the region towards peaceful coexistence, including a two state solution based on equality, security, prosperity and social openness.This imperative necessitates providing a space for young people, starting with Palestinians and Israelis, to jointly lead the way in forging dialogue, cooperation and the planning of a better future."

Although more pronounced in the Middle East, there is a substantial discrepancy between the governing and the governed in the many nations populating this earth. But there is substantial commonality among the governed, especially young people, in the many nations.

Look - there is more commonality than differences among young people in the US, China, Russia, Egypt, Israel, Libya, Syria, etc.. They have similar aspirations, desires and needs. The discrepancies and nearly absolute differences are found in the governments - democratic or not.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Portland's sex offender detail?

KGW:: Portland's sex offender detail adds officers. I must admit that I was surprised that there were any police officers assigned to verify the addresses of sex offenders. Because it is Portland there are more than our share of them, and Old Town has more than its share. But KGW's statistic that there are 620 offenders per 100,000 population may be an error. See my post Sex offenders - pervasive in Old Town that has the means of locating the sexual offenders and predators.

The county allegedly has personnel assigned to monitor - mostly from the convenience of their office chair - predatory sex offenders.To learn more from the county's perspective see this webpage. It will lead you to the page where the offender is housed. Take a peek at that page and you will notice quite a few "Wanted" offenders - people who have escaped from the county's intensive monitoring.

Police wearing video cameras in Oakland - why not Portland?

The technology has been here for some time. Tasers can be equipped with cameras, but the body camera seems best. If there is police officer acceptance in Oakland, CA surely Portland's police officers can't object - not that I would expect them too. [Police Say Wearing Video Cameras Offers Protection.]

Cameras at $125 apiece has to be a bargain - but if it sounds too good to be true - the camera website shows a price tag at around $900. And it can be mounted as a dash board camera. So what are the negatives? One thing could be the turning on of the cameras. It was unclear in the article whether the camera had to be activated once at the beginning of the shift or each time the officer determines to activate it?

From the brochure it appears that for this particular camera there is only four hours recording and battery time. Thus, it seems as though the officer has to remember to turn it on. Not as foolproof as it has to be. There are other products out there - lets hope that the Portland police are receptive and that the city is willing to pony up the necessary bucks. The positives far outweigh any negatives.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Old Town crime takes a bite: ANKA Gallery closes

From the Willamette Week: "Solcaniova-King says the closure is due to difficulties in selling enough art to pay the gallery's rent, as well as decreased foot traffic due to crime in the gallery's vicinity." The Gallery is located in Old Town where crime, especially drug crimes, prevents development or even the ability to maintain a level of development.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dave Lister has it right about Charlie Hales' drawbacks

I agree with everything Mr. Lister says in his opinion piece in the Oregonian - Portland mayor's race: Residency issue just one of Charlie Hales' drawbacks. This quote about sums it up: "I want my next mayor to "be" something. I want my next mayor to be an efficient manager who will take care of the city's core services and be a good steward of the budget. We've had enough of monument builders."


Cogen's tough choice?

The Tribune's Sources Say had this odd piece about Multnomah County chair Cogen' alleged "tough choice."

"After Portland voters approved the Children’s Levy, Cogen’s wife, Lisa Pelligrino, was hired to direct the program, which approves grants to nonprofit agency. Now, as county chair, Cogen must decide whether to potentially cut the funding for his wife’s program by placing a measure on the ballot to create a library district."

The fact that he hired his wife and that he clearly has a conflict of interest - doesn't seem to bother the Tribune. Maybe I didn't recognize the tongue-in-cheek.

I am with the GOP on this one

GOP decries "nanny state" push on junk food ads. It is more than a "nanny state. The least offensive definition of a nanny is "any person or thing regarded as treating people like children, esp by being patronizing or overprotective."

But it goes further than treating us like children, it steps deep into the state dominance over every aspect of one's life all in the name of protecting us. There is an evil in the "regulation" of citizens and residents in the guise of regulating business advertising.  It seems more and more that government doesn't represent us - it seeks to control us. Maybe it is because China has our money - but the Chinese & US dichotomy is ceasing to exist.

England's gift to the US - Murdoch's exposure

This is only of one of many stories about the abuses by Murdoch's empire in the UK - Steve Richards: Politicians are finally free from Murdoch's tyranny. In the US, Fox Broadcasting Company and Wall Street Journal belong to Murdoch. It is a British scandal but it ought to open American eyes to Corporate news that puts profits before journalism. If Murdoch runs his news empire this way in the UK - what is he doing in the US?

The British scandal is a gift of opportunity - the door is open. But, the American press seems reluctant to discuss any linkage to Murdoch's American holdings. E. g., see this Washington Post article on the closing of the News of the World tabloid in London. Not one word of Murdoch's news media in the US.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My kind of pilot

Southwest pilot reacted quickly to hole in roof. He didn't wait for controller permission before beginning the emergency dive.

Does this make you feel warm and fuzzy? "A Boeing Co. senior official said the aircraft maker had not expected cracking in that section of roof for several more years. "

Obama - with a lot of audacity offers no hope to seniors

In debt talks, Obama offers Social Security cuts - The Washington Post. I am not voting for him again. I may  end up not voting at all, the Republicans don't look good.  - but for sure I will not be casting a vote for Obama.

Police beanbag shooting - where are the facts?

The Willamette Week story Federal Investigators Mum On Thursday's Portland Police Shooting raised the question about the "shortage of facts" publically available. While the question was posed by an attorney who represents clients in police misconduct cases - it is a good question.

The situation seemed rather simple - a mistake was made. The officer admitted it and so the police department. Apologizes have been made. So why don't we know the facts how this officer loaded the wrong shells?  It doesn't require a complex investigation.

In cases that appear to be simple fact situations - delay of providing facts to the public raises concerns of cover-up. The police department suffers from its lack of good public relations. It gives the conspiratorial segment of Portland more than enough to conjurer theories of police malfeasance.

One wonders whether the police department and city just wants us to forget about it?

Terrorists implanting bombs in humans

The Oregonian: U.S. warns airlines that terrorists might implant bombs in humans. It is already clear that other than an entire bomb, and maybe that too, the components could be stuck into the rectum. With implants, just how small can an efficient explosive be, what will be the technology developed to detect it? Does any of the "scanning" prevent terrorism? When will the airport security madness stop?

The Wyatt

I can look out from my window and see the Wyatt in the Pearl - a condominium project turned into apartments. It isn't receiving property tax exemptions, but the real market value is more than twice the assessed value. [Portlandmaps].

For 873 sq. ft. one can lease - you lease not rent these apartments - a one bedroom for $1,881 - 2,071. But it isn't clear that the conversion was financially successful. I look at night and there are few lights on. I walk by it every day on different sides on different days. I see few people.

 It is an excellent location. But, in my walks around the neighborhood the emptiness of the Wyatt dominates. We assume that the economy will rebound - evidence of that is seen in the coffee shops and bars - but will it bounce back far enough to fill-in these spaces? Will high end residential housing construction ever restart given the extant available space?

Will Amanda Fritz reconsider her candidacy?

If money counts - Amanda Fritz might reconsider her candidacy. It is unlikely - impossible is more like it - that she can come close to matching dollars with Mary Nolan. More than that though - Nolan has the experience that money can buy and Amanda doesn't. It seems that there will not be enough grass roots to sustain an Amanda Fritz campaign.

Superficially, if one could ignore Nolan's ability to attract the dollars in the past and present - Nolan appears to have the experience. Amanda Fritz's experience is limited and frankly she has not shone through the murky clouds of Portland politics. A fair question - what has she done as a bureau head or council member? A fair answer - not much. And to be fair - Amanda Fritz is a rookie and her time at city hall has been short. However, she seems to be gathering nothing but criticism even before her candidacy announcement.

But dollars do count. It pays for the advertising that, like or not, shapes public perception of the candidates. Amanda Fritz campaign war chest is filled only with her own money - $25,000. Just what will $25,000 buy in the way of advertising?

Mary Nolan can raise that sum in a blink of the eye. See my post, in part, on Nolan contributors for her last house campaign. See too her page on Follow the Money. It is clear that public financing of candidates is a dead duck. And it is clear that political campaigns are heavily financed by special interests. But without large contributions - Fritz hasn't a chance unless there are some Nolan rocks to turn over.

The Nolan vs Fritz campaign demonstrates the need for campaign financing reform. 

Follow The Money in (any) state politics

It is an interesting web site that came to me via Jack Bog's Blog who was pointing out that Mary Nolan, state house representative, had received contributions from Wal-Mart and Philip Morris in her campaign for that seat. What $5,000 from Wal-Mart or $4,000 from Philip Morris buys either - I don't know.

Mary Nolan is running against Amanda Fritz, a nurse, in local city council race. But, I found it interesting that the Oregon Nurses Association was one of Nolan's past top five contributors. In fact, 4 out of the top 5 Nolan contributors were from the health industry. Worse yet - depending on your perspective - the health industry is represented in 11 of the top 20 contributors. Finally, John Russell - Portland Developer - contributed $5,073 via '200 Market Building.'

The site has collected a lot of money data on Oregon (and other states) political candidates. Take a peek at this page for an Oregon overview and the categories one can search. The overview page shows the top 20 contributors. Not surprising is that the Oregon Education Association is number 1.

Take a look at those 20 contributors - are your interests represented anywhere?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Words are never enough

D-Day June 6, 1944 was only one part of WWII. I have been viewing many, maybe too many, documentaries about WWII. "Ken Burns: The War" has been one of them. It is available on Netflix but takes many hours to view.

My point is that the number of deaths and casualties were horrendous - on all sides. But for most of that war, images of death were not seen by the folks at home. Only the good or benign news reached our shores.

The government had established a Code of Wartime Practices for the American Press that governed the "proper handling" of war news. But Life magazine published that image to the left. Although taken in February 1943 it was not published until September 1943.

"Here lie three Americans. What shall we say of them? Shall we say that this is a fine thing, that they should give their lives for their country? Why print this picture anyway of three American boys, dead on an alien shore? The reason is that words are never enough. The eye sees. The mind knows. The heart feels. But the words do not exist to make us see, or know, or feel what it is like, what actually happens. -- Life Magazine." [PBS].

Publication of  graphic images came with government approval because "in part because President Roosevelt feared that the American public might be growing complacent about the war and its horrific toll."
Kim Phuc
Complacency in WWII was about the fear that the public didn't appreciate the war effort and needed to be "shocked" into a heighten sense of Patriotism. Now complacency is the desired effect. Images are not published because of the fear the public would demand that the wars cease.

During the Vietnam war the image of the little girl burning with napalm had an influence on ending the war. See Kim's Story for more about her life story.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not less horrific because of technology. In sharp contrast to WWII or even the Vietnam war - news about the various wars and causalities is difficult to find. The media isn't under any code of restriction. The wars and their inherent horrors are not deemed news worthy for reasons only the media knows. 

Americans need to be shocked out of their complacency. If we are going to be taxed more to run the government and more debt taken on the pay for the wars - then we ought to be confronted with how those costs relate to our war casualties. The real cost of war is not just the loss of human life but also the lessening of life through wounds - physical and psychological.

The combat veterans that return home are often unable to adjust. Domestic violence, suicides and PTSD are the symptoms. The voluntary army concept has lead to multiple tours of duty. An interesting video on a Marine's third tour of duty is here. See this article on a Marine's four tours.

"Words are never enough." Graphic images or not - it is imperative that the public is aware of the costs. It is the media's job - why can't they do it?

D-Day it slipped by ever so quietly

June 6 was the anniversary of D-Day in 1944. It was an invasion of the French coast -Normandy - with a massive collection of military men and equipment ever seen. The United States Army has a website that provides excellent overview of that day. The image to the left is one of many WWII posters available for download.

The embedded video on the Army site contains reminiscences by soldiers preparing to land on the beaches. There are maps of the five landing points. It was a combined effort of several militaries designed to destroy the Nazis.

But if one views any of the many documentaries (Netflix has several) concerning the invasion - it is seen that the invasion and ultimate success came at a high price in allied and American lives.

More detail - not too much but enough - can be found at this FAQ web page. Questions about what nations took part and how many combatants as well as estimates of the casualties are answered. What did "D" in D-Day stand for? It is there too. The FAQ webpage is one part of the D-Day Museum website worth browsing.. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

"What our Declaration really said"

The Washington Post opinion notes: "A reading of the Declaration of Independence makes clear that our forebears were not revolting against taxes as such — and most certainly not against government as such." Well you see where it is going - it is a nice perspective and worth the read.

Taliban videos hold allure to Afghanis

The videos are those depicting the violence of war suffered by American troops and others. The young Afghanis seem to get great pleasure from viewing these tapes. A content sample: "The images are of real war and shocking violence: U.S. military vehicles exploding; Western troops tossed high in the air; terrified foreigners being dragged and mutilated." [In Kabul, Taliban videos hold allure.]

And why are we in Afghanistan?

Legal immigration

‘Citizen U.S.A.’ is a melting pot that melts the American heart is a review of the documentary illustrating the melting pot in its true sense. The reviewer notes in part: "With their stories of hard work, epic journey and appreciation for the small things (Customer service! Privacy! Being able to choose the color of your new car!), they’ll give you hope in this 235-year experiment we’ve got going here."

The new citizens seem to appreciate our country more than those born and raised here.

Always a resident and citizen I sometimes wonder why people take the legal route when it is so easy to enter this country and get lost never to pay taxes, have jury duty, etc., but still have all the advantages of citizens like education, driver license, employment, etc. There is nothing good or right with illegal immigration.

 The melting pot is about legal immigration. Citizenship is about rights and responsibilities.

"How would you like a carrot and a bottle of barbecue sauce shoved up your rectum?"

Now that is a headline; it actually occurred. It is the lead to a post on Held to Answer: "Taking a Bite Out of Crime."  It is a perspective on rape apparently inspired to text by the recent articles on DSK -the great seducer. Take the time to read this post and sample a few of the others - you will not be disappointed.

GPS tracking - a two edged sword

GPS tracking enabled in a phone leads to an arrest. [KATU]. The police easily tracked the phone to the person in possession. Great ending - arguably an excellent use of technology - but it isn't too difficult to discern how irresponsible and illegal use could lead to substantial abuses of power.

Infringement on our liberties is protected by the morals and ethics of those in government and business. That is like the protection afforded by a broken condom.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

More billionaires in Russia than anywhere else?

Who would have thought? "By 2008, according to the Russian business paper Finans, there were 101 billionaires in Russia – more than in any other country . . . ." [See The gilded generation: What is it like to grow up as part of Russia's new power elite?]

Lenin is definitely turning over in his mausoleum.

Fired critic of faulty 9-1-1 suing city

The Tribune's story illustrates why it is past time for Leonard to go. We will not know all of the facts until the trial or until the media digs a little. But it seems that it is another case where criticism of government actions, especially when it reflects Commissioner Leonard, is not permitted. The silencing of dissent is not a Republican tenet.

But there is more in the story than just Mr. Leonard punitive action in the 911 no-bid debacle. It is the ugly side of small town, small minded politics. I would like to think that this story represents only Portland politics - but it is just the ordinary politics that seems to be on the rise in smaller cities.

It is not the corruption like money passing under the table, although sometimes it seems that way, It is the type of corruption that is effected by the conduct of ambitious people that become adherents of the "ends justifies the means" policies.

Liberals be on your guard - July 4th festivities are Republican recruitment events

That is one conclusion that can be drawn from a Harvard study. According to the study: "Fourth of July celebrations in the United States shape the nation's political landscape by forming beliefs and increasing participation, primarily in favor of the Republican Party." [See CBS News: Do July 4th festivities make you Republican?]

Apparently the study sees the 4th of July festivities as a Republican recruitment event. Especially vulnerable are the children. And carrying it a little bit further - Republicans are more patriotic than Democrats.

Such nonsense.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Press conference - much info - but still no answer as to how

Moving at turtle or tortoise speed the media is gathering facts and piecing together the police shooting with the wrong ammo story. Most of the questions were answered at the police/mayor press conference, however, with a little effort they could have been asked and answered without waiting for the conference. But that is Portland journalism - wait until the information is handed out.

Willamette Week
The Willamette Week's headline didn't fit the results of the conference - Many Questions Remain After Press Conference for Police Shotgun Shooting. There is only one question left - how did this officer - in spite of training and near fail safe procedures - load the wrong shells?

Take a peek at the image - no mistaking the beanbag shotgun. It would seem difficult if not impossible not to differentiate between regular shells and beanbag shells.The shells are loaded at the beginning of the shift - so there is no pressure to load the weapon in a hurry to meet some imminent demand.

The regular shells are blue and red while the beanbag shells are yellow and clear. But it is noted in the Oregonian that it is common for officers to mix both type of shells in a bag carried in the patrol car trunk. That seems contrary to the policy that the Willamette Week noted: "Reese [police chief] said specific officers certified to carry less-lethal guns aren't allowed to carry live shotgun rounds on them or in their cars if they are carrying the beanbag weapon."

But the focus must be on what this particular officer did in loading the gun. When did he load the gun?  What was the source for the shells? It might be necessary to know too what were the color of shells that were loaded?

Color blindness may be an answer. "If you are missing just one pigment, you might have trouble telling the difference between red and green. This is the most common type of color blindness. Other times, people have trouble seeing blue-yellow colors. People with blue-yellow color blindness almost always have problems identify reds and greens, too."

While the Oregonian has done its best to bring in a mentally ill victim - it is irrelevant. It really is a simple story of mistake by a seasoned officer. It matters not why he fired the gun - it only matters that despite all the policies, procedures, protocols, training and the like - this office was able to load the wrong shells.

As I mentioned before - the Oregonian contained a query by Cop Watch which to my dismay is actually an excellent question - why should beanbag guns be capable of firing lethal rounds?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Nuclear safety

Most likely because of Japan nuclear problems, some stories in the American press and many by bloggers connect natural disasters to nuclear safety without explaining the connection or they fail to provide facts that justifies concern.

A story like this from the New York Times that is fairly balanced - Flooding Brings Worry About Nebraska Nuclear Plants from the New York Times - is sometimes dismissed as part of some cover up or is alleged to be part of a conspiracy by nuclear industry. Thus, rather than being just skeptical about nuclear safety - the goal is to denigrate the existence of nuclear power.

Consideration ought to be given to the fact that the US Navy has 10 active nuclear powered aircraft carriers with about 5.5k enlisted and officers on aboard. But US Navy has other nuclear powered ships, e. g, submarines. Other navies have nuclear powered ships too. [See Nuclear navy.] Arguably, nuclear energy can be made safe, at least for some applications.

The question that ought to be answered, or issue raised, is how to assure nuclear safety? It seems rather foolish to ignore or put aside the one alternative power source that is nearly unlimited. Shouldn't nuclear energy be one of the many significant alternatives?

Pedal power in Pearl

It was an odd sight - that multi-person vehicle being powered by what appeared to be 10 people or so. It sits somewhat high and the first sight is all the legs going up and down in somewhat short circles. Rather amusing. I don't know if it is geared but it looked like a lot of effort for the number of people and distance covered with each stroke.

It was a quick sight by me but this is somewhat similar enough to give a sense of the concept - Pedal Party.

Mistake in loading?

The anti-cop gang (take a peek at the comments to media reports) in Portland is all a flutter with the apparent police officer's mistake of loading a shotgun with the wrong shells. The anti-cop gang brush aside the fact that this is the first mistake in 15 years. Rather than contribute anything of substance to what should be a discussion - they contribute irrelevant content. The media as per usual couldn't get to the facts of the case. Will the unanswered questions remain unanswered? Maybe the press conference scheduled today (7-1-11) will provide more detail.

What seems to be known or not. The beanbag shotgun is a separate weapon, but if so it can also fire regular shells. Why? If a separate weapon - is there something distinctive about it? With two similar weapons in a patrol car - it would be too easy to grab the wrong gun. It is clear that the beanbag shells are of different color, thus arguably loading the wrong shell is difficult - assuming that one knows the color differences. The officer using the gun is a 15 year veteran, but we don't know when he or she was certified..

The ultimate question may well be how did a 15 year veteran - although we don't know how long the officer has been certified to carry the beanbag shotgun - load the beanbag shotgun with the wrong shells. And maybe a better question why is a beanbag shotgun able to fire lethal shotgun shells?.