Friday, September 30, 2011

More Kids Left Behind

That is the latest post from Held to Answer - a blog by Pamela Fitzsimmons. It is not a blog for trolls. The subject matter is often controversial, but her commentary is thoughtful. Highly recommended.

Adding to the climate of fear

The latest terrorism fright is the model airplane. [Could model airplanes become a terrorist weapon?] This because a man from Massachusetts - aided by the FBI - sought to use model airplanes like drones to bomb the Pentagon and Washington buildings. [See earlier post.]

Will we find hobby stores requiring identification and fingerprints? Will online purchases of model airplanes be subject to FBI scrutiny? Will model airplane club members be added to the terrorist watch lists?

Energy secretary and Solyndra

The energy secretary takes responsibility. "Chu spokesman Damien La­Vera said in a statement that the secretary approved the restructuring agreement for Solyndra because it gave the company 'the best possible chance to succeed in a very competitive marketplace and put the company in a better position to repay the loan.'" [Washington Post.]

"Chu, a Nobel laureate and physicist who came to the administration from academia, arrived in Washington with a mandate to push billions of dollars in stimulus funds into clean-energy companies and projects." [Washington Post.]

According to Wikipedia, Chu "is a vocal advocate for more research into alternative energy and nuclear power, arguing that a shift away from fossil fuels is essential to combating climate change. For example, he has conceived of a global "glucose economy", a form of a low-carbon economy, in which glucose from tropical plants is shipped around like oil is today." Oh my!

No doubt he is a thinker. But Mr. Chu reminds me of that idiom: those who can, do; those who can't, teach. Brilliant may be insufficient characterization of Mr. Chu - but nothing in his background makes him qualified to be the energy czar. Here is a person that arguably has no concept of the marketplace. His life has been in research academia. Why would anyone turn billions of dollars over to this person? How does this spending of stimulus dollars create jobs?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bahrain medical staff sentenced over protests

In Bahrain the bastion of liberty and democracy "[t]hirteen doctors and nurses who treated anti-government protesters given 15-year jail terms for crimes against state." [Al Jazeera]. See post on Bahrain.

Read Eileen Brady's 2003 Letter to Sam Adams - please

First read the Willamette Week's article. Then read the 2003 letter to the Sam Adams who was then Mayor Katz' chief of staff. The incident involved police officer telling her to walk her bike at the Rose Festival. She parlayed that into police misconduct.

Eileen Brady just can't get over herself. The Week noted that she let the officer know that she was important - she had 3 close friends on the city council. Brady denies it.

She begins the letter telling the mayor just who she - important of course thus deserving of special attention. She relates that she was afraid of the police officer because he spoke to her sternly, Really? What a phony.

She states that the officer dropped her ID on the ground and didn't pick it up for 2-3 minutes. She parenthetically notes that she thinks it was a mistake - thus meaning the exact opposite because she states parenthetically again that the officer was "Simply rude and disrespectful."

There is more in the letter that is worth the read especially for the chuckles. She certainly believes that she is somebody special.

But, apparently the police weren't impressed with her self importance and self righteousness - neither should we.

What a dearth of mayoral candidates.

Report: EPA cut corners on climate finding

There is this report that the EPA had cut corners on its finding of that climate change pollution endangers health. It doesn't come from Fox News - but an internal government watchdog - Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general. [SFGate]. Sounds like the Solyndra fiasco.

The Obama administration appears to be doing its best to shoot itself in the foot. And maybe that is a good thing. It is arguable that the EPA has become too regulatory using liberal philosophies to save us from ourselves. 

Oregon University System Salaries

This comes by the way of Bojack. See University Salaries | GovDocs. Take a look at the top 20 - it is on the first page of the link - it is all athletics. Something is wrong with that picture.

Massachusetts drone terrorist

Does this sound familiar? "The FBI undercover agents provided Ferdaus with the money to buy the drones, but law enforcement officials said Ferdaus came up with the idea for the attack. Prosecutors said Ferdaus “was presented with multiple opportunities to back out of his plan, including being told that his attack would likely kill women and children,” but that he “never wavered in his desire to carry out the attacks.”" [Mass. man accused of plotting to hit Pentagon and Capitol with drone aircraft.]

It is an all too familiar scenario where the FBI is involved in possible enticement to commit the crime. See post on the Portland terrorist and this one too. Another Muslim?

Danger to himself and others

 "On September 22, 2011, officers responded to the report of a man walking in the halls of the apartment complex armed with a rifle and wearing a ballistic vest claiming to neighbors, 'We are under siege.'" [See Armed Man Surrenders to Police in Southwest Portland.]

"Officers documented the incident, indicating that Loxley may be suffering from mental health issues but at that point, had not committed a crime."

There is a lot more to the story - even a part about the police formulating a plan to get the guy into mental health treatment - but the gist seems to be that unless a crime is committed a person can't be otherwise arrested. Does that sound correct? 

What happened to the "danger to himself or to others' basis for arrest and confinement re mental health. This guy was clearly a danger to others if not himself. It is only by chance and a lot of luck that they had to come back to the apartment complex and was able to arrest him before he actually did harm someone. 

Take a peek at the weapons they found.


Death penalty would have been appropriate

It's a German story - who would have thought that the Germans would come to be so 'liberal.' Life in prison without chance of parole for kidnapping, sexually abusing a 10 year of child - then murdering him.

The murderer "drove around with him in a car before forcing him to undress and sexually abusing him in the back of the vehicle. He then took him into a wooded area, strangled the boy and stabbed him in the neck."

And get this: The judge "rejected the argument that the accused committed the crime due to work-related stress or that it had not been pre-meditated."

The judge "said he believed Olaf H. [accused] was not a paedophile, but rather wanted to experience “feelings of omnipotence” and the humiliation of another human being."

Park security - what were they thinking?

The Portland Tribune tells us that the city is replacing 8 private security guards that work 7 am to midnight with 3 park rangers that will work from 7 am to 6 pm. This at a savings of about $180,000. We are talking 10 extant parks and one more on the way.

But the 8 guards from a Portland Business Alliance contract with the city cost $66.198.25 apiece while the 3 rangers cost $116,666.66 apiece and work 6 hours less.

What is the justification? It is significantly less security - for a savings of $180,000. And, most likely it will become clear that maybe 8 is too much but 3 is clearly not enough - so it will either be back to private security or hiring more rangers at $116,666.66 apiece..

Of course - no mention of the costs to 'certify' these rangers or whether the costs is compensation or salary, i. e., does the $350k include pensions, health care, etc.

Here is a clue to this harebrained idea. It isn't security. Commissioner Fish is in charge of both housing and parks.

"Hendricks [Parks Security Manager] says park rangers will be certified [. . .], and will also be trained on homeless, mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues by the Portland Housing Bureau and area homeless providers."

By the way of the Willamette Week's city salary database the Parks Security Manager makes $75,881 without including the value of benefits like pension and healthcare.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Macdonald Center's low-income apartment construction begins

A reader sent me the Oregonian story link. I am not sure if the reader supports or opposes the project, but I have already stated that I do. An original Portland Business Journal (Oregonian sister publication) article about a year ago stated that the costs would be $10 million, but it might be far less.

According to the Oregonian $8.3 mil has been provided in the way of grants and housing tax credits, but the construction costs are estimated at $6.8 mil. And the Center has raised nearly $12 mil in private financing. So why the public subsidies?

What isn't clear either is the characterization of this particular project as serving the "forgotten poor." A Google search doesn't bring a clear definition. Often it seems applicable to the low income working class. But, a look at this page on the Center's website the "forgotten poor" are "persons with chronic mental illnesses, those who suffer with addictions and others in very poor health."

Faith-healing

There are many people who believe that their god is an integral part of their everyday life. They believe that if they pray and what they prayed for happens then their god answered their prayers; if it doesn't happen then they believe that it is still their god's will. It is in reality an abandonment of personal accountability.

There are people too that believe that  "[t]he wife submits to the man, and he's the head of the household." When asked what to do when her husband wasn't present, she answered that it was her duty to find another man to consult." [KGW].

It is difficult to understand how these beliefs can be taken to such extremes that a child dies for lack of medical care. A recent faith healing case depicts this scenario where the father, with mother abdicating her responsibility, chose prayer rather than medical assistance.

It not a always bright line separating state and religion. But, it is certain that religious beliefs cannot justify a child's death.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's a free speech and dialogue issue not race based.

The students at the University of California do their best to garner attention. Typically it is, or used to be, the liberal-left that led the way, but the Republican students's satire got more attention than they probably expected.

For a bake sale they priced pastries as if there was a quota system. "The price of a baked good costs $2 for white people, $1.50 if you're Asian, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for African-Americans and 25 cents for Native Americans. Women get a discount of 25 cents." [SFGate].

The bake sale is a protest against a California law waiting to be signed that permits the use of race as an admission factor. Presently California law, via Prop 209, prohibits use of race, gender or ethnicity in admission determination.

Here is a take away paragraph. "On the Berkeley campus that gave birth to the Free Speech movement, the debate over the last few days has been less about the wisdom of considering race and ethnicity in college admissions and more about which group has been most disrespectful."

Missed opportunity. Apparently free speech is for some but not others.

Say it isn't so: Sly Stone - Funk legend lives in a camper van

The Independent's story: Funk legend who lives in a camper van: Sly Stone reveals how he ended up broke  He is described "as dishevelled and suffering from paranoid delusions."

The Independent's source is the New York Post that depicts the tragic downfall - but it is unclear why? Certainly drugs and financial mismanagement are potential factors, but mental issues are more likely.

Sadly, unless he is a danger to himself or others - he will remain with his paranoid delusions.
There are many lessons to be learned from the Solyndra fiasco. The main lesson is about government's role in what is ordinarily private enterprise. Solyndra "has become a case study of what can go wrong when a rigid government bureaucracy tries to play venture capitalist and jump-start a nascent, fast-changing market." [The Washington Post].

Fortunately for the tax payers other similar firms rejected the Obama administration's use of public dollars for political purposes. The other businesses recognized market changes and rejected loans that had conditions that prevented them to adjust to those changes.

Government should take no role in attempting to shape the market. Invariably, the desired shape reflects only political ideology rather than market considerations.

Israel okays new buildings in east Jerusalem

The approval of the new housing is just one more  "fuck you" from Israel to the Palestinians and the rest of the world community. The problem in the Middle East is Israel. But until the nations like the US, UK and those in Europe stop trying to assuage their guilt over the Holocaust - Israel will continue flipping the bird.

The benefits of drinking camel urine

I came across this article in a non-related Google search. It just struck me as funny, but it appears that there are genuine health benefits. However, I not drinking camel urine or milk anytime soon. Islam Question and Answer - The benefits of drinking camel urine.

University of New Hampshire - healthiest campus

The UNH has a goal - "healthiest campus community in the country by 2020.”  To reach that goal they have determined that the students and campus community will eat healthy. In charge of implementing this goal is the UNH Dining. So far, they have eliminated most foods with trans-fat, removed salt shakers and announced an energy drink ban. [The Washington Post].

I guess the ban on energy drinks was just too much or maybe the final straw. Protests via social networks apparently caused the UNH to rethink the ban.

University president Huddleston: “I want to be sure we respect our students’ ability to make informed choices about what they consume.” “I have asked my colleagues to defer implementation of the intended ban until we can further explore the relevant facts and involve students more directly in our decision.” [The Washington Post]

According to the The Washington Post, the student newspaper, The New Hampshire, in an editorial "called the proposed ban irrational, hypocritical, foolish and an overreaction. If university leaders cared about the health of students, the editorial said, they wouldn’t be finalizing plans for a Dunkin’ Donuts on campus." 

"Dining tried removing energy drinks from shelves to become a healthier campus. But they were ready to turn their heads the other way as Dunkin' Donuts and its 770-calorie tuna melt sandwich moves in." [The New Hampshire Post].

The student newspaper editorial is a good read. The focus is on the energy drinks, but it provides some interesting facts about the drinks and easily counters the University's broad brush disparagement of the drinks.

There is something aggravating about "leaders' who say they want others to be able to make informed choices then proceed to make sure that it is their choice that is the "correct" choice.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A teacher evaluation plan that works?

It seems so. The story is about New Haven, Connecticut where there is high poverty. According to the New York Times: "New Haven’s path demonstrates that it is possible to hold teachers accountable without crushing morale and wrongfully dismissing good teachers." 

It sounds too good to be true - so maybe time will demonstrate its accuracy. But what is amazing is that the politicians and teachers and their union were able to agree on the plan. Somehow I just don't see that happening in Oregon.

New York City the making of a mini-police state?

Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

Excuse the hyperbole but recent news articles about the New York City police raises issues that makes New York appear more like a middle east country. The image to the left was taken from New York cracks down after "credible" 9/11 threat.

See a New York Times article with video that shows -police using pepper spray apparently unwarranted. The protest was on Wall Street.

See too an Associated Press story: NYPD chief: Police could take down plane if needed. And see my post about the NY police and CIA spying on citizens.

But they are protecting and serving - aren't they? But it is questionable of just who or what is being protected and served - it is not democracy.

Solopower job hype

Jack Bog's Blog wondered, perhaps in amazement of the Oregonian's role playing as press agent for Solopower, whether Solopower's job creation in Portland will be 170 or 100. Interesting that the Oregonian is using the figures that came from the January 13, 2011 press announcement about the Wilsonville plant before Solopower walked away to Portland.

Take a peek below at excerpts from three recent 2011 Solopower News and Events announcements. In January - it was Wilsonville with 170 new jobs and employment of 500 people when facility is completed. In February it was still Wilsonville with 500 direct employment on completion. In August it is Portland - but now there are three facilities. One in California and two in Portland with 450 jobs spread across the three facilities.

Jack's post: "We're reminded of a line from the old Perry Mason show on TV: 'Were you lying then, or are you lying now?'" Well?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Apples and oranges comparison

In a recent Held to Answer there is an apparent comparison between Stanley "Tookie" Williams and Troy Davis both executed. But it is an apples and oranges comparison that fails. It is the difference between rehabilitation and reasonable doubt.

There is no doubt about the guilt of the co-founder and leader of the gang Crips. [See Wikipedia.] No retrospective look at his guilt, but there were those that were impressed with his rehabilitation that seemed genuine. But he committed the crimes and should and did pay the price. Justice served.

But Troy Davis can't be compared to Williams except that they both share the same skin color - but there is no racial component in either of these stories. Troy Davis though was a story about reasonable doubt as to his guilt and conviction. Justice not served.

In Arizona accents are verboten.

One is tempted to take special notice that this concerns Arizona a state that has seemingly gone out of its way to appear reactionary. In the latest example it is the "no child left behind" law "which requires that only instructors fluent in English teach students who are learning English." [In Arizona, Complaints That an Accent Can Hinder a Teacher’s Career].

In Arizona - unlike other states - they have sent state monitors across the state seeking purity in the English language. In the name of purity, accents were verboten:
The teachers who were found to have strong accents were not fired, but their school districts were required to work with them to improve their speech. That was the case even when the local school officials had already assessed the teachers as fluent in English.
A federal investigation into possible civil rights violations has caused Arizona to modify its policies - but Arizona bears careful watching to prevent a return of its aberrant behavior.

Parents wrestle with rear-facing carseat advice

It often seems that the goal of those who want to "protect" us from ourselves goes too far. This is especially true when it comes to the family. See this latest from those who like to offer advice but you wish they just shut their mouths: Parents wrestle with rear-facing carseat advice.

Right now it is only "advice," but it is this type of advice that becomes law imposed by the good liberals who just can't resist interfering in the lives of others.

It is funny (peculiar) that there is such a difference between the definitions of libertarians and liberals.

GM opens Advanced Technical center in Shanghai - didn't we bail this company out?

Public money was used to bail GM out of its financial problems. The rationale was essentially GM was too big to let fail. I suspect many who favored the bailout now have second thoughts. See this story from autobloggreen: GM opens Advanced Technical center in Shanghai, site to focus on components for hybrid vehicles: And this from the New York Times: G.M. Plans to Develop Electric Cars With Chinese Automaker.

From the NY Times article: GM - China partnership "would transfer battery and other electric car technology to the venture." Notice too this in the autobloggreen article: the new facility "is adjacent to GM International Operations and GM China Headquarters." How cozy.

Paraphrasing Jon Stewart -Supreme Court said corporations are people - but they aren't Americans. 

Church child abuse - the Pope is shamed - or is he?

This is how the headline in the German "The Local" expressed it: "Abuse victims meeting leaves Pope 'shamed." But there is nothing in the text of the article that leads one to that conclusion.

The closest to an expression of shame for the child sex abuse by the Catholic Church is this from a Vatican statement "moved and deeply shaken by the sufferings of the victims." Or maybe this? "The Holy Father expressed his deep compassion and regret over all that was done to them and their families."

Way short of "shame" from the Vatican PR; it would not likely fare well in Ireland.

King School - a long way to go before any bragging rights

The Oregonian, via oregonlive's neighborhood blog concept, continues to show its sharp turn from journalism to community boosting. If you want to read something nice about your community - however irrelevant - read an oregonlive neighborhood centric blog. 

Here is a prime example.The Oregonian story is King School in Northeast Portland changing with new leadership, attitude. But try as you might there is little to show for the new leadership and attitude. What follows is essentially my comment posted to the blog.

Sorry. I don't see the improvement at King School that this post is claiming. Maybe there is some renewed hope because the feds took the school off the "troubled" list. But, no one benefits with hyperbole.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Palestinian leader stands up to be counted

The Palestinians has rejected all attempts by those that stand beholden to Israel and submitted its statehood petition to the United Nations. The Israel and Palestine question has occupied more than a half century of concern, Over that time the Israelis continued to become more intransigent, if that is possible, and the Palestinians continued to "negotiate" away their rightful position in the world community.

Will it turn out to be a David and Goliath story with an ironic reversal of roles? It s so past time that the Israelis come to grip with reality. This is the single most significant factor that has set the Arab world aside from the rest. The Twin Towers and a host of other "terrorist" acts can be traced to this division.

Other than president Carter - no other president has stepped up with the moral authority of the United States to seek a solution. And a weak and ineffective Obama has ceded his authority, moral and otherwise, and decision making to Israel.

Obama, the ineffective negotiator, gave up any bargaining chip that might have started the process towards a just solution - two states - by announcing to the world that he would veto the statehood petition. It put him clearly under the thumb of the Israelis and their lobbying group. World leader - Obama isn't.

The "peace plan" offered by US and others had no substance and offered no basis for negotiation. Let's hope that the United Nations is prepared to grapple with this problem. It is of their own making.

Jefferson Smith not an appropriate mayoral candidate

The Willamette Week has presented, possibly an unintended, profile of the mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith that ought to give all voters serious concern. He is a person with more than his share of issues that don't mix with public life. Blogger Bojack has raised the issues of possible improper use of non-profit corporations and the question of Smith's source of income.

The Willamette Week's story recaps Smith's problems and draws attention to his failure to pay his bar dues. Most attorneys, even the inactive ones, that I have known fear the loss of the license to practice. And while I can only speak to my California experience - notice of bar dues were sent in advance of the due date. So too there is a notice of license termination. Paying bills is an individual's responsibility - no excuse.

But more troublesome is the fact that he blames ADHD. "It’s a matter of public record that I've been diagnosed with ADHD," Smith says. "It’s a weakness I fight. I do better sometimes, and this time I did it worse." [Willamette Week].

Another DUI officer - what is going on?

Portland Police Press Release: Portland Police officer charged in Tillamook County. According to the Oregonian this was the sixth officer in the last year. A Google search demonstrates that it is not unusual event for an off-duty police officer to be arrested for drunk driving, but it is not clear how police officers arrests compare to that of the general population. 6 in a year seems high - but is it?

Arguably the arrest of 6 Portland off-duty police officers is too high irrespective of general population statistics. But 6 suggests something else is going on. An individual may be seen as having problems only associated with his or her personal life and not the workplace. But 6 officers?

And it is rather simplistic and erroneous to conclude that police officers have to better than the rest of us and never possess personal failings. It is a difficult argument to make in a state and city that promotes drinking. Ever been to one of those beer "tasting" events? There wouldn't be enough officers to arrest all those leaving the event driving while under the influence. Take a trip to Old Town and watch how many bar patrons drive away drunk. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Search for a president

From my Democratic perch - it seems that the Democratic Party needs to find another candidate for the upcoming election. Certainly, letting an incumbent, specially this one, run without an intra-party challenge may have disastrous consequences.  

I like Obama - but not as my president. He is smart - no intelligent - articulate and an all round decent person. But as a president he hasn't done anything that I have felt good about - except ending the 'don't ask don't tell' policy. But even then he had to be dragged fighting and screaming all the way. And look - the killing of bin Laden was on his watch, but I am not sure it was the direct result of any Obama initiated policy.

One cannot expect agreement with everything a president does - even when he was your candidate. Sadly he seems to lack that leadership needed for a US president. He is Bush's clone.

From day one Obama seems to have had his eye on the reelection. The Republicans don't fare any better. If Obama has a chance it is because the Republicans are fronting two bozos - Romney and Perry.

 Come on democrats - offer an alternative.

Portland Afoot deserves credit

Portland Afoot is one of few websites that I have listed in the column to the right. It is there not so much because I agree - but because it reports on TriMet with some credibility. Case in point is the site making the extra effort to verify one of those "we are number one" claims.

The U.S. News had reported, and later corrected, that Portland was the best city in the US for public transportation. Of course TriMet went out and spent 8 grand on bus ads. But sorry - it turns out Portland is maybe number 5. Portland Afoot says it is #7.

The actual category that Portland ranked 5: "the 10 U.S. cities with the best combination of public transportation investment, ridership, and safety." TriMet had falsely claimed "#1 Transit."

I believe that if Portland Afoot hadn't called and questioned U.S. News - the correction would have never been forthcoming. And, TriMet should have checked the number themselves before patting themselves on the back - ""Portland high five." [Credit given to Chris Distefano by Portland Afoot.]

Interesting too is that the Oregonian had an article on the mistake but no where was credit given to Portland Afoot. It may have been a coincidence - but it is hard to believe that the Oregonian story was written without the awareness of the Portland Afoot post.

Unhappiness with government - it's global.

Most Germans unhappy with squabbling government coalition. "Germans are unhappy with the government, with a full 83 percent saying they are dissatisfied by the poor cooperation between the parties of the governing centre-right coalition according to a poll."

Meg Whitman - CEO at HP

Reuters: Meg Whitman is unjustifiable choice for HP CEO. In perusing the news - that headline finds a lot of support. She is not anyone's candidate - except for HP. She replaces another that had been in place about a year. And remember Carly Fiorina?

It is another news story about HP that has me reminiscing about the good old days. I remember HP as THE computer company to work for. I doubt that there were many of us in the computer industry that either didn't apply to HP or wished they had. I was disappointed when I was rejected. Their management style was in a sense like Google's. Employees - not "workers" - were pleased with their jobs and felt valued.

Gone are those days. What happened to this great company?

The lesser of evils - a campaign strategy for Fritz?

I was reading a blog where a commenter noted that between Fritz and Nolan Fritz was the lesser of evils. Wouldn't it be interesting if Fritz won despite Nolan's campaign war chest because Fritz was not the better choice but the lesser of evils choice?

Faster than light particles found? Whither US space program?

Strange world. Reading the news today is not much, if any, different than 50 years ago. Israel and Palestine, the "Middle East," wars, etc. It is virtually the same. But while politics never seems to move forward - seemingly in a close loop - science does. But the leadership role of the US seems to be retracting to pre-Sputnik days.

After the Russians shocked us - space science seemed to grow steadily upwards - a 45 degree slope. But of late - our space programs like so much of world programs led by the US has taken a back seat to others, even to the Russians. They are the transportation service, bus and driver, now for space trips.

I was around for the start of the race to the moon. I was at NASA Houston working for IBM at the time one of the orbiting spacecrafts returned. Excitement - these astronauts at the time, at least in Houston, were celebrities. I worked at other NASA sites too during my years in the computer industry. Space was not only a job creator but a morale and confidence booster. The US led technology in every aspect - no longer.

Today's news provides yet another example of lost leadership - the discovery of possible faster than light particles came from CERN - a European particle laboratory. And, in the US it appears that even the successor telescope to Hubble - James Webb Space Telescope may be scrapped. The list of achievements that came from the Hubble apparently will not be added to by the new telescope.

Something is not right with the US.

PPS high schools - promising signs?

I don't know what a chief academic officer is or does. but the one for Portland Public Schools was published as a guest opinion: Portland Public Schools: Promising signs of progress for our high schools. Most of these guest opinion are by apologists, but this one was not and offered real promise for better days at PPS high schools.

"Starting with the class of 2016 (which started high school last week), every comprehensive high school will offer classes in world language, the arts, advanced placement, as well as supports for struggling students. This mix of challenging, engaging and supportive classes should keep more students interested so fewer tune out and leave."

I wonder when the light bulb went on? It seems that this should have been started long ago. This is a story more about Franklin than the Portland School District, but there are many high schools that have not been "Franklinized." It will be interesting to see if Franklin can maintain the improvement and whether other schools can be brought along. The proof will be in the pudding.

"Franklin has an outstanding staff, but it's not an exception. If Franklin can raise its graduation rates -- and eliminate the achievement gap -- all of our schools can."  It seems self-evident, but it has been elusive thus far. .

Take a look at Franklin on greatschools.org or om schools.oregonlive.com. It is encouraging.

And not a disparaging word about "no child left behind" or about standardized testing. Success because of it or despite it?

OMG - throwing kittens out the moving car window+

See the Police Press Release for the details - but why throw the kittens out the window? Too much trouble to go to an animal shelter or take one of a host of other alternatives?

Originally published 9/1/11. Too quick to judge? Restored faith in humanity. Update 9/23/11: "Society investigators now say the kittens probably crawled into the vehicle's undercarriage and fell out as the owner drove to work. No animal abuse charges are planned." [Oregonian].

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Repression in Bahrian - receives too little notice

It is a story of repression that has largely gone unnoticed. Sparked in part by the "Arab Spring" it has been the step-sister of those conflicts. Much of the media's attention has been elsewhere. One wonders if it is our military presence there and the ever ass kissing of the Saudis is the reason behind the US silence and inactivity? It is the Saudis that provided the troops to Bahrain for their crackdown earlier this year.

See my post in February 2011. Bahrain is controlled by a government that is a religious minority. From Al Jazeera Bahrain profile: "The ruling family are Sunnis, while about 70 per cent of the population are Shias, who complain about discrimination from the dominant minority."

New York Times"No one won in the [Bahrain] clashes, which erupt almost every night in this Persian Gulf state. Five months after the start of a ferocious crackdown against a popular uprising — so sweeping it smacks of apartheid like repression of Bahrain’s religious majority — many fear that no one can win."

Why are we - the US - quick to "help" some countries through the Arab Spring but not others. Libya versus Syria comes to mind. As the NY Times notes: "American willingness to look the other way has cast Washington as hypocritical. . . ." Dissidents: “There’s no other choice but violence.” “We can’t back down.”

The New York Times article is a good read.

Jefferson Smith - who is he?

Jack Bog's Blog has part 1 of an expected 2 part post. Something isn't quite copacetic with Mr. Smith. It is a good read. Part 2.

Rick Perry and Rupert Murdoch have dinner together - way too cozy

Rick Perry seems at home with the right wing politics. News media moguls and politicians ought not to have dates. The English have learned this the hard way as illustrated by their hacking scandals that exposed the hand holding between England's politicians and Murdoch. [See Rick Perry and Rupert Murdoch have dinner together.]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Qwikster? Really - is that the best name Netflix could come up with?

Recently when I finally got fed up with Netflix, I wrote Netflix sucks. It still does even after the CEO's apology, And the announced splitting of Netflix into two companies doesn't bode well for consumers - despite the claims that pricing will not change.

It is really a spin-off. Apparently there will be two of everything. Now it will be Netflix for streaming and Qwikster for DVDs. One skeptically suspects that the DVD side will be priced out of existence if not sold beforehand. And one has to wonder how the DVD side will be effected should postal service stop Saturday deliveries.

CNET published a really decent article on this saga. The article includes the full apology letter that includes the information about the new services. There is too an opportunity to vote on the apology - it seems that it didn't fare too well.

I found it interesting it interesting that when the price increase came out - there was an email notice, but not for the apology. Interesting too is the CEO's claim of expanding the streaming content. Look the reality has been that the streaming content is old content except for a few of the anime. And consider too that recently Starz appeared to terminate its relationship with Netflix.

The New York Times notes the further anger derived from the "apology."  Qwikster Plan by Netflix Angers Devoted Customers: "In many of the 17,000 comments (so far), disgruntled consumers mocked the name of the new DVD company, Qwikster, and predicted its demise."

Netflix a MySpace?

Reasonable doubt - Troy Davis case

In a recent post I wrote that "I am not against the death penalty but am against the way it is determined." I would extend that to include subsequent circumstances that casts doubt on the original penalty. The Troy Davis case in Georgia is an example of a wrongful imposition of the death penalty.

At the trial the jury or judge can convict only based on the legal standard beyond a reasonable doubt:

"The standard that must be met by the prosecution's evidence in a criminal prosecution: that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty."

The justification: "In in re winship, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S. Ct. 1068, 25 L. Ed. 2d 368 (1970), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the highest standard of proof is grounded on "a fundamental value determination of our society that it is far worse to convict an innocent man than to let a guilty man go free."" [Online Law Dictionary].

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Bus Project and Metro - ageism?

This came by way of Jack Bog' Blog. Apparently he was the recipient of a youth outreach by Bus Project and Metro. He seemed not pleased. I have looked at it many times and mulled it over. Was Jack a little over sensitive? I think not. It seems to have been written by an immature and self-obsessed hipster. Some would say that is the younger generation.

It is almost laughable - but it shows their ignorance - that they seek to perpetuate the stereotype that old people known nothing about computers. The people in power - the older generation - rarely ask the youngins about their concerns, but only how to use the computers.

When it comes to wanting the best for this country, state, city and local community I have never known that any of the "old folks" deny the youngins their say. But here it is the "old folks" that are the enemy. Gee if only the youngins were running the world . . . .

These these youth aggregators (Bus Project) seem to believe that technology happened during their watch. Never mind that people like myself were working with and on computers in the 60s. Touch screen technology and integrated circuity was prevalent. Google isn't technology - it is the application of technology.

I am appreciative and supportive of the younger generation being active politically. It is typically where significant changes can be initiated, consider the opposition to the Vietnam War. Of course this new Bus Project group wasn't born yet so they are unaware of how young people took to the streets not only to protest war but to actively support civil rights.

I want them to vote and not sit in the back throwing barbs and making paper airplanes. Maybe too they ought to reflect on what their fathers, mothers, grandmothers, and grandfathers have done. I wonder how many of them are living with their parents?

But it is about the votes for a particular political candidate - isn't it? As Jack states: it is "smug shinola being exuded these days from Portland mayoral candidate Jeffer-Sten Smith's famous Bus Project."

Moral failings with the maid?

DSK is all over the French media admitting the "encounter," but denying rape.It was consensual you see. Every woman wants to give oral sex and screw DSK. Even the French, who view this behavior as a "guy thing" are not so sure, but are ready to move on from him.

This is more of case about the failure of the justice system and its ingrained inequality where money talks. Notice too that "the medical report concluded that the maid had been raped."  And contrary to DSK allegations that she lied - the report was that she told inconsistent stories about the event. But one wonders if the story was inconsistent in the telling or in the listening? See Prosecutors tell NY judge to drop Strauss-Kahn case.

Green jobs and investment in America - yeah right.

Boston-Power CEO, CFO, founder resign amidst shift of resources to China: "Well, word is Boston-Power expects to announce a funding deal early as next week and, according to the firm's spokesperson, part of the investment requires Boston-Power to downsize its local staff and focus instead on its existing operations in China."

$240,000 - self campaign contribution for county commissioner

This is a campaign story that ought to serve as a warning to Amanda Fritz - her $25,000 or so will not get her far. She has eschewed ordinary campaigning for funds - so she probably has no contributor base. But the real story is why would Diane McKeel, or anyone, spend $240,000 of personal income to become a county commissioner? She barely got elected - but this is not horseshoes. Her husband - a dentist - must do okay - to say the least.

Is this merely a way the rich keep busy? I have no idea about her success or failure as a commissioner. Thus it is likely that she serving her district well. But - I know it is not my money or decision - but it seems that $240,000 to obtain a political job at the county is not money well spent.

But, it does seem that democracy would be better served by enabling qualified residents to compete and be elected without expenditures like $240k plus. But, Portland's public campaign financing was not a success. Arguably though, it should have had one more run and not killed without a public vote. See People's choice and see too Portland Oregon Public financed elections.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Driver's license for online? Or just another means of tracking and profiling

The Obama administration is seeking the "public adoption of online user authentication systems." The ostensible need - to cure online fraud. Who protects us from the government? 

"The idea is that if people have a simple, easy way to prove who they are online with more than a flimsy password, they’ll naturally do more business on the Web. And companies and government agencies, like Social Security or the I.R.S., could offer those consumers faster, more secure online services without having to come up with their own individual vetting systems."

The above paragraph ought to be enough to send one into the streets warning of the coming (it is nearby) totalitarian state. 

In a somewhat ironic fashion the author equates this online identification with a driver's license - but a driver's license didn't start out as a means of identification - it was proof that you knew enough about the rules of the road to be held accountable for its violation. Of course the use of that license has morphed into nearly a national ID card. Its actual modern use has little to do with knowledge of the rules of the road - it a means of identification serving police interests. 

Technology should not be used as a means of controverting privacy but as a means to protect it. Privacy is the means by which each of us thrive as individuals. The constant attempt by government and business to "watch" over us in each and every activity will produce a amorphous population mass lacking individuality that leads to innovation and invention.  

Can the mandatory implant chip be far behind?


Credits cards not good for what ails you

The Oregonian is looking out for our welfare - knowing what is ailing us and posits a cause to an effect. It cites a study that is to prove a point - but the point is lost on me. The Oregonian post sees it a part of some duty to warn: "This column has issued past warnings: How you pay can affect how much you buy." Gee - I didn't know that.

"Plastic modes of payment obviously have a lot of advantages, 'Thomas [assistant professor of marketing at Cornell University] says.' But people should be aware there are some side effects." Gee - really? How long have credit cards been in use? Of course we need an assistant professor to tell us this new found consequences.

But more to the point - what is the point to this article? It is just another in the ever growing list of "new discoveries" by those who seem to believe they have found something new that if they can just tell the world it will be saved.

General pressured by white house on his testimony or not?

This is not about the subject matter of the report but the reporting. Fox News reporting is never unbiased, nearly never presents opposing views and often never contacts the original sources for verification, in this case, the general. Fox is nothing but gossip - it is not journalism.

Read General Reported He Was Pressured On Testimony About White House-Backed Project, Sources Say | Fox News and Fox "Straight News" Division Joins Effort To Drum Up Scandal Over Routine Review Of General's Testimony | Media Matters for America.

Which one is more objective?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Reliability of the grid - disaster waiting to happen?

Leave it to the foreign journalists, The Economist, to focus on our neglected power grid. Suffice to say electrical generation is complex. Wikipedia offers a decent entry on electrical generation. By far the best is NPR Visualization Map an interactive map showing the grid and sources of power. See my post on Megawatts.

The Economist takes notice of the recent power failure in Southern California. "It started at the North Gila substation near Yuma, Arizona, where a utility employee “was doing some work” on faulty equipment." Long story short: "The overloaded grid promptly crashed, causing blackouts to spread across the region and into Mexico. The lights did not come back on until the following morning."

The reliability of the US power grid has been criticized again and again. But ascribing to the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' mentality the still extant issues go without notice. Here is a decent article written in 2008 - still valid today: 5 Years After Blackout, Power Grid Still in ‘Dire Straits’.

Jobless rates interactive

Here is a decent interactive chart that permits a comparison of the unemployment rates of any 5 states. The article containing the chart is found here.

Chicken or the egg? "States hit hardest by the housing crisis recorded the highest jobless rates in the country, with Nevada leading the nation at 13.4% in August and California next at 12.1%."

It doesn't look good, but that doesn't deter the city of Portland that wants to spend nearly $62 mil on a downtown Sustainability Center project. Not a job in sight.

Just to think . . .

. . . if those in positions to protect, in this case, the flying public were doing their jobs there would have been no 9/11. Here is an example of an airline failing miserably in its duty to the public at even the low screening requirements in place in 2001. Court Filing Details Shortcomings of 9/11 Airport Screeners.

One can't forget either that the FBI failed miserably essentially ignoring the warnings of their own agents. FBI was warned about Moussaoui, agent testifies. 70 times!

The few lawsuits proceeding to litigation has provided the transparency and accountability (to some extent) that the government is and was willing to conceal.

It happens in Germany too

Toddler takes accidental solo train journey.

Sustainability Center - Greenwashing the public's dollars

Oregon Sustainability Center faces critical City Council vote. There is no justification for this project to have gotten out of the 'wouldn't it be nice' phase of planning. But here we are - anything for a "green" label? This is the ultimate "greenwashing." It is unclear how projects such as this - and there is the hint of more to come - have any benefits for anyone.

It isn't clear either that Portland is a leader in cutting edge technology as the mayor presumes. He is a believer in the 'if I say it enough it will become true' philosophy. The fact of the matter the city of Portland is not a leader in technology or much anything else. The technology centers lie outside of our borders.

The mayor has claimed his economic strategy will create 10,000 new net jobs in five years. He made that claim in 2009. See Portland Tribune "A Great Place to Live, Not Work." The author is Jim Redden. See my 2009 post.

Friday, September 16, 2011

It seems odd that Oregon's minimum wage is going up

Next year the minimum wage will be $8.80. That is $18,304 per year. Depending on the size of the household - a minimum wage earner may actually be below the poverty level. But there is value to a minimum wage. See too The real value of Washington’s minimum wage.

While the minimum wage is based not on a state's cost of living index - but the national's, there seems to be a certain unfairness to Oregon's ( it is not well situated economically) businesses, especially the small business. This may be especially true when the general economy is also in such bad shape.

It is not too difficult to argue that small businesses - those that provide the most jobs - will be reluctant to hire employees where their other operating costs are not decreasing, and the ordinary course of passing costs onto consumers is not necessarily an option.

I don't now if it "fair" or not - it does seem unfair to the working person that has a job, but is still living in poverty. Rent, including utilities, transportation, health insurance and food pretty much wipes out $8.80. Admittedly though, a single young person might not do too badly on a minimum wage in a city like Portland. But a couple with children and only one working member - will be dependent on a host of other "social" payments like food stamps.

While an earlier, November 2008, post in my Old Town blog is somewhat dated in the numbers used - I still stand by my view: "Workers ought to be paid a living wage - minimum is just a start - and not a good start at that. The fact that somebody in a better financial position pays more for breakfast [because of a raise in the minimum wage] - tough."

However, any argument over minimum wage is merely a straw man. The real issue is that there is a growing divide between the haves and have-nots and a growing unemployed, but looking, base.

Muslim bias at the FBI

"The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has said it has discontinued a lecture that taught counterterrorism agents that mainstream Muslims were violent." [Bias in manuals embarrasses FBI - Americas.] See the full story: FBI Teaches Agents: ‘Mainstream’ Muslims Are ‘Violent, Radical’

The FBI and CIA anti-terrorism activities are seemingly more akin to the old police tactic of planting guns on those they knew where the bad guys - whether or not they were guilty of the particular crime. They know that Muslims - any Muslim, and apparently even those working for the FBI and CIA, are guilty of something thus providing the excuse for their activities against people who express belief in Islam.

It is noted in the story that the FBI referred to the Prophet Muhammad as a cult leader - if he was - what was Jesus Christ? And they further teach that the more devout the person the more likely to be violent. My my my.

The country founded on separation of church and state is becoming more and more nationalistic in its views. It is becoming more and more easier to use the "N" words - Nationalism and Nativism.    

Forget about political leadership - where is the moral leadership? "Christian" clergy are strangely silent. Not too surprisingly - the Catholic Church is looking the other way somewhat similarly when the Nazis (another "n" word} were burning Jews. It wasn't that long ago.


Arbitration whether officer Frashour is reinstated

Officer Frashour was fired for his involvement in the Campbell shooting. The case is now in arbitration to determine whether he was wrongfully fired. [Hearing begins on whether fired Portland Officer Ron Frashour should get his job back.]

Police officer shootings that end in death are often difficult to determine right or wrong. The officer often only has a few seconds to make a decision. If he is right - end of story. If he is perceived as wrong - the story never ends. In most, if not nearly all, of these incidents there is in fact no malice. The officer is doing the job as assigned and as trained.

Officer Frashour:  "It should be made clear that there was no malice behind that bullet," Frashour wrote. "I was not there to look for a fight, cause problems or get into a shooting. I was not there in response to a black man, a white man or an Asian man. I was there in response to a suicidal man with a gun." [Oregonian].

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Biofuel carbon saving - not so great

"The potential consequences of this bioenergy accounting error are immense since it assumes that all burning of biomass does not add carbon to the air." [Serious' Error Found in Carbon Savings for Biofuels.]

We need to rethink the "solutions."

Replacing Coal With Gas - Sounds like a winner

"Power plants fired by natural gas emit about half the carbon dioxide that conventional coal plants do," therefore effects on climate change ought to be rather substantial - right? But no - there is no easy road to green nirvana. A recent study suggests that "shifting from coal to natural gas to generate electricity will do little to slow climate change." [Replacing Coal With Gas Is No Panacea, Study Says:]

US poverty rate nearly 1 in 6

"The overall poverty rate climbed to 15.1 percent, or 46.2 million, up from 14.3 percent in 2009. The official poverty level is an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four" [Census: US poverty rate swells to nearly 1 in 6.] Worst yet - Working-age adults make up record share of US poor: 3 out 5 poor people are working age adults. The key factor here is that this is a shift from children being "the main impoverished group."

It don't look good folks.

"Wholly shit"

Paper from elephant dung. This rather amusing story comes from The Economist. At first glance it seemed like some "green" innovation thought up by the "green" Portland-like minimalists who would have us put aside centuries of development and revert to tribal life.

There is some history presented in the use of dung for various reasons. E. g., the possible use by Egyptian women of crocodile excrement as a spermicide. And, the process for converting elephant dung for use in manufacturing paper is well described.

But this is India - so the "bigger hurdle was convincing people to perform the unenviable task of cleaning the dung. “Brahmins don’t touch dung. We had to look for people belonging to a different caste.""

I guess things haven't changed that much as somewhat suggested in this New York Times article: Entrepreneurs Rise in Ashes of India’s Caste System. The caste system still exists, but it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of caste.



Real heroes

While the police and fire personnel are often characterized as heroes - I don't quite give them that status. For the most part they are doing a job that they are well trained and well paid. It is often too their avocation as well as their vocation. The real heroes are people like these in the story: Motorcyclist: Life saved by heroes who lifted car.

It has a video that demonstrates that there still exists the Good Samaritan. They were just individuals who acted instinctively to save an unknown other. They didn't wait for "rescuers." Motorcyclist's uncle: "They risked their lives doing it. It restores your faith in humanity."

Certainly if fire and police are "heroes," these people are a step above.

Common sight in Pearl that bugs me

It is all too common place. I am not sure what it is about it that bugs me - but it is the various clowns, always seem to be males, in the coffee shops wearing hospital scrubs.

His own stupidly saved him . . .

. . . from a life in prison or even a death sentence. The Washington Post had the story about a rather hapless fellow caught up in a love triangle, and apparently, determined that killing his lover's husband would lead to bliss. Never mind that he was married and made a little over $100,000 working as a contracting officer for the Census Bureau.

It might make a good new season TV comedy. Using a party game to get his victim's fingerprints, two fake suicide notes and a meeting where a fake beard fell off and the appearance of a third party witness that permitted the victim to escape.

What I really liked though is this: "As the [arraignment] hearing ended, he [the hapless one] blew his wife a kiss. Her eyes filled with tears, she did the same." Apparently she is hapless too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Oregon's Federal Public Defender Steve Wax

The Willamette Week has a great interview with Steven Wax Oregon's federal public defender. A federal public defender in theory is much like any state public defender attorney appointed by the court as a criminal defense attorney. He or she is that attorney that is the "one [that] will be appointed for you at government expense" in the Miranda warning.

I don't want to carry the definition any further except to state that the attorney is a federal employee and on the whole is cut above most state public defense attorneys.

The interview is interesting in the response Mr. Wax gave to the question: “If you were in charge of the war on terror, what would you do?
” Now I am not sure why that was the question asked nor what gives Mr. Wax any particular expertise in formulating a position except that his office has had several "terror" cases of some notoriety.

It is a good read though.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Council plan tackles housing discrimination - really?

Commissioner Fish has a proposal for the council that "calls for an end to discrimination in rental and owner-occupied housing." He is not daunted by the fact an analysis of his earlier "housing audit"  "raised questions about the accuracy of the findings, noting numerous internal mistakes and dubious testing procedures." 
The plan reads: "In Portland, we will not tolerate discrimination in housing. We will not cure this disease overnight. It will take persistence, collaboration, and creativity."
Racial discrimination is because the commissioner says it is. Facts mean nothing when he has his 'fact' glasses on. He see what no one else sees. Leftist ideologues like Mr. Fish are anathema to government serving all its citizens and not some perceived special interest groups.

Commissioner Fish is looking for a cap to put a feather in. He touts himself as a 'civil rights' lawyer, but one suspect that he never quite made the grade. He has the rich kid,  liberal, left mentality that demands your tax money be spent on issues that are near and dear to him.

Thus while living quite well financially, and apparently with little to do, he and other financially well off liberal, left folks can commiserate with each other in the difficulties in reaching a society where in a Marxian view "[f]rom each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!"

Bathroom trips on an airplane - terrorism factor

Repeated trips to the bathroom on the plane or spend an 'extraordinary' amount of time in that bathroom raises terrorism fears. [Military jets safely escort NYC, Detroit flights.]  What? If one has a bladder problem he or she is now a suspected terrorist? The climate of fear has overcome all rational and common sense thinking.

Just how afraid are the people who fly. Any distance flying must be unbearable. It sounds like another phobia like claustrophobia.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Intel "ventures" $24 mil - not one dime for Oregon's software companies

It is an AP story repeated in the Oregonian - Intel injects $24 million into software companies. It is telling that not one Portland or Oregon software company was a recipient. So much for the cluster concept too. See earlier post on Portland's so called economic strategy.

Supreme Court to rule on GPS ‘Big Brother’ claims

"They [judges] say the Fourth Amendment’s promise of protection from government invasion of privacy is in danger of being replaced by the futuristic surveillance state Orwell described."  The question at hand for the Supreme Court: "Do the police need a warrant to attach a GPS device to a suspect’s car and track its movements for weeks at a time?"

There seems to be some indication that because of technological advances the Fourth Amendment should give way. It seems that the question has the wrong perspective. What needs to be considered is how to maintain our constitutional privacy guarantees form being over ridden by technology.

The Fourth Amendment and other amendments in the Bill of Rights gives the constitution structure and substance. The Fourth Amendment is more than a promise - it is a guarantee that individuals will be protected from the unwarranted intrusion by government. It is the base of democracy.


Portland's economic development strategy - inscrutable

[Editor: Originally published on the Old Town Blog, Oregonian, November 05, 2009.]

Documents presented to the public or used for public benefit must communicate effectively its meaning and therefore its ramifications. The goal must be to inform. The Portland Economic Development Strategy (Strategy) fails English 101.

It is not well structured. There is no table of contents nor executive summary. It is teeming with buzzwords and has undefined terms of art. Many sentences are excessively long and incomprehensible.

Prime example. “A cluster strategy is the logical organizing principle for growing traded sector industries because disparate efforts at retention, expansion, innovation, international trade, land assembly and workforce development can be coordinated in a manner that makes more efficient use of resources and captures synergies in otherwise unrelated activities (e.g.; coordinated training and research at local universities).”

Oregon PERS to release data on retired members - after being sued

The Oregonian and Salem Statesman Journal each filed suit (joined) to gain access to the data the retirement benefits of individuals in PERS. It should not have to be said but in perusal of comments in the Oregonian  many seem to miss the point that these are public employees being paid with public money. There is nothing private here.

PERS saw the accountability and transparency light (it could not have been any brighter) and settled agreeing to provide the requested information. [Oregon Public Employees Retirement System to release data on retired members.]

See this empty headed comment: ""All it will be used for is to inflame the public against people who do jobs nobody else wants to do," said Mary Botkin, lobbyist for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees."

9/11 local donations - where did the money go?

We have an indication that many of the 9/11 type charities misused the money collected. AP IMPACT: Some 9/11 charities failed miserably. $1.5 billion.
There are those that spent huge sums on themselves, those that cannot account for the money they received, those that have few results to show for their spending and those that have yet to file required income tax returns. Yet many of the charities continue to raise money in the name of Sept. 11.
But what about all that cash money that was given to local firefighters? I don't know what happened in Portland - but in Berkeley the local firefighters were riding around on their fire trucks holding out firefighter boots for collection. Did that money ever make it to New York?

Pride in the execution of 230 plus and applause

The Republican debate highlighted an American delight - execution. The audience applauded when the debate moderator stated Mr. Perry's record executions as Texas governor in the lead-in to the question - 234 executions.

It is unclear how much of that applause was thoughtful, and would have the applause been forthcoming had the audience had an opportunity to scrutinize the record? Mr. Perry: "I think Americans understand justice."

Executions in Texas and elsewhere where innocent people are executed is not justice - however one might define the term.

I am not against the death penalty but am against the way it is determined. The fact that one person is wrongfully sentenced to death is sufficient to put the death penalty on hold until that process can be legitimized. And the process is clearly part of the problem. I am not familiar with Texas in particular, but too often attorneys who represent death row candidates are inexperienced and often problematic lawyers.

Thankfully the long appellate process gives time to save some of those wrongfully convicted.

The New York Times offers a look at those executed in Texas - Scrutinizing Perry’s Extensive Execution Record.

It is not only undemocratic but immoral

Tom Brokaw in ‘Unknowable Future’ (Video) is speaking about the failure of Americans to share in the sacrifices of our service men and women and their families in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. The "cost" of these wars are barely mentioned anywhere - especially in the media. These are wars that many seem not to recognize nor understand.

Mr. Brokaw notes in the video that we can choose to be ignorant of the wars and it would not affect our lives. And that is what it seems we so choose. Ignorance is so much easier.

See too his New York Times opinion piece.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just another day at the office for Boehner and Biden

Hot mic catches Boehner and Biden talking about golf (video). Hazards of technology. Virtually everything public, probably private too, is recorded in some form. The hazard is that one becomes complacent as if it didn't exist. I practiced in court rooms that recorded video and audio all the time.

I remember one time during a lull in the court session that myself and other attorneys sitting near me were "selected" by the bailiff to see the judge. The audio had caught some unfavorable comments about the judge - but she didn't know who. It was in fact unrepresented clients speaking unfavorably. Nothing came of it - but lesson learned in that court room was to keep the conversation general.

Moral of the story - I like seeing level of professionalism where the anger of politics doesn't carry into casual conversation.

Portland police sergeant fired - for road rage?

A police sergeant with 19 years of service is fired because of two off-duty  "road rage" incidents with the same complainants. No gun was brandished. Oh yes - he failed to have the correct license plates. The "investigation" apparently found that he was "evasive and untruthful." The police "investigation" took 18 months. There were no other relevant "facts" in the media reports. As far as the anti-cop Oregonian and other bloggers are concerned - one less cop.

It matters not to the cop haters that the firing doesn't ring true or that it appears to be punishment disproportional to the "crime." It is a 19 year veteran. Was head of the police union. Did nothing other than scream at the "victims." Maybe it the Smart car that triggered his anger? Discipline - no doubt. Firing - there better be more to the story.

"More to the story" is suggested by fact that "[t]wo other Portland police supervisors [...] remain under investigation for unrelated, off-duty road-rage incidents in which each is accused of unholstering their firearms."

Justice you serve others is the justice you deserve.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Climate of fear - a slow move towards the police state

Getty Images/Justin Sullivan
Hyperbole? Probably a bit, but while one cannot necessarily blame the NYPD for these actions detailed in  New York cracks down after "credible" 9/11 threat - I wonder though just how "credible" the terrorists information.

The image to the left is from Yahoo! News - isn't it ironic that it might be an iconic image? Is it an image of police guarding freedom or a representation of a police state? See too my post on New York's secret police.

I am casting my vote for the nurse

We have a doctor - let's keep the nurse. Jack Bog's Blog noted today that Mary Nolan has lined up more than enough campaign money to crush incumbent commissioner Amanda Fritz. Frankly, I cannot name one positive achievement by the commissioner - not that there isn't. The Office of Equity is not a positive achievement and is a rather politically immature venture.

But I believe I know what she isn't. She isn't unethical. She isn't driven (too much) by self-interests. I believe that she honestly wants to do what is right for all Portlanders. She is maturing politically. And she is willing to pony up $25 grand or so of her personal funds to stay put.

She hasn't indicated that she is or would ever be aligned with the urban renewal, Max, Streetcar, developer crowd like Nolan's supporters and campaign contributors noted in Jack's post - "Mark Edlen, Don Mazziotti, Vic Rhodes, Rick Gustafson, even a cool grand from Little Lord Paulson in his Dunthorpe manor!"  And that is more than enough for me to stay with Fritz.

Sceptics cast doubt on events of 9/11

I was working in New York when JFK was assassinated - to this day I don't believe the government's story line, essentially that from the Warren Commission. I don't subscribe to any one particular theory - but I never felt that the story was complete.

GALLO/GETTY
Same seems to be true with 9/11 and the Twin Towers. I don't subscribe to any particular theory, but still the story doesn't seem quite right. I wish I had the time to research the stories - but it isn't going to happen. The referenced article is just one of many I suspect that will be floating around in the next few days.

Some explanations while maybe true defy belief. "There are so many problems with this official fairy tale we are being fed," Gage said in an interview. He points to World Trade Building number 7 - a 47-storey tower that was not hit by an airplane, yet collapsed in 40 seconds. The official version blamed fire."

Of course, it is difficult to imagine, except in a movie made for TV, that there could be another reason other than fire. But, over the 40 or so years, the federal government and their cohorts have built up a wall of lies and deceit that prevents acceptance of any government version.

And, as the interviewed engineering student said: "History has shown it's not crazy to question your government. It's crazy not to question your government."

911 deceit and unpreparedness but brave heroics

This tenth anniversary of 9/11 is bringing to the forefront newly told stories about just how unprepared this country was for an attack of any kind and how the government failed to be transparent about events - lies if you will.

A kamikaze pilot. That is what the US launched to bring down the fourth airliner thought to be heading to Washington D.C. The pilot, one of two, had no live ammunition or any other weapons but the plane itself. If she caught up with the plane her only option was to crash into it -which is what she was prepared to do. [F-16 pilot was ready to give her life on Sept. 11.]

This from a New York Times post: "[t]he newly published multimedia document spells out precisely how the recordings contradicted the accounts of the senior officials." E.g., ". . .  senior government officials, who in the weeks after Sept. 11, and for more than a year afterward, assured the public that fighter pilots had been in hot pursuit of the suicidal hijackers."

"The [9/11] commission discovered that little of that was true: of the four flights, military commanders had nine minutes’ notice on one before it flew into the World Trade Center, and did not learn the other three had been hijacked until after they had crashed."

It is this apparent need by the federal government to offer the "truth" as it see it that makes the 9/11 skeptics somewhat credible. It also deprives its citizenry of the actual and extremely heroic actions like that of the pilot ready to use her plane as the weapon.  . 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bloomberg defends secret surveillance

I covered the New York "secret police" activities exposed by the Associated Press. It is ironic that a Jew would be engaged in and supportive of what amounts to secret police activities against members of the Muslim religion. But that is what Mayor Bloomberg is doing. See Russia Today: Bloomberg defends secret surveillance of NYC Muslims. By the way the fact that the CIA was involved seems to have essentially gone by unnoticed.

Blommberg: “We live in a dangerous world, and we have to be very proactive in making sure that we prevent terrorism." "Terror" is new fear word that has replaced "communism." Can't hardly banter that word around anymore since China - the dreaded communist country - now holds most of our treasury securities.

The rationale or rubric is different but the effects are the same. Affix fault on an identified group - and shift the focus away from those ought to be held accountable for the ills. Because of 9-11 this country's political leaders have found it so easy to blame the Muslims for that day when it clearly was not. Bin Laden activities and policies were more attuned and related to those of the Saudi's.

Left behind in America - Who's to blame?

It is a subject that doesn't get the press that it should. It ought to be the center of debates- even before jobs. It doesn't take too much thought to realize that the divide between the haves and have-nots is the major economic and social issue.

The CBS News article "Left behind in America: Who's to blame for the wealth divide?":provides some interesting insights into American thinking. The chart at the left shows the "Actual" divide, "what people think" the divide is and "what people want" the divide to be.

I find it odd that so many people have not recognized the size of the gap. And even more odd is that the poll results show that 12% selected "No -- and to suggest otherwise amounts to class warfare." Arguably the divide might (ought) to lead to class warfare. And another 12% selected "Maybe -- but the focus should be poverty, not inequality." It would be interesting to know the demographics of those voters.

That is 24% that arguably are satisfied with their and the country's economic situation. Not surprising: "The Republican candidates for president - most of whom claim Tea Party allegiance - are now calling for increased taxes on the poor and reduced taxes on the rich."

It might be a good time to remember that during the depression the wealthy didn't suffer that much and that they aren't suffering now. This from Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois is becoming all too real: "We have this growing elite that makes the economy of the United States look more like a banana republic than an economic democracy."

Obama's speech tonight - 9-8-11 ought to be interesting even for what he doesn't say. The Democrats - the 'protectors' of the middle and working class have been too quite. Just who does the Democratic Party represent? The "hope" envisioned by Obama is not even a dream, but a fantasy like home ownership.

2011 Streetcar fare hike proposal - PortlandAfoot

Portland Afoot is one of the few blogs that I recommend. Not so much that I am in agreement with its content - but because it is an excellent source for TriMet and other transit information. Its latest post deserves special mentioning because of the proposed Portland Streetcar fare changes. See Streetcar staff recommends leaving Free Rail Zone and its new page devoted to the subject - 2011 Streetcar fare hike proposal.