Monday, October 31, 2011

Airport security farcical theater

KGW reports: Gresham man concealed ammo on PDX Guam flight. But here is the kicker: "Guam investigators found the ammunition [500 rounds] while he was trying to board a connecting flight to Micronesia." He wasn't caught by TSA - but by Guam investigators. Are they that much better? What is it that enable them to detect the ammo besides opening the bag?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

OMG: Portland police spent $182,000 in overtime for Occupy Portland

"If we weren't providing a large police presence this wouldn't be safe," Reese said, as he did a walk through the camp today." [Oregonian]. Of course there is the other side of the coin.

$6.6 billion in lost Iraq accounted for - after 7 years

"While the bulk of the money was transferred to the Central Bank of Iraq, $217 million remained in a vault in a former presidential palace and was held by the U.S. Defense Department and most was doled out for a variety of projects and payrolls . . . . " [$6.6 billion in lost Iraq cash now accounted for, inspector says].

Jon Huntsman - he ought to be getting a bigger play

I watched Mr. Huntsman on the Colbert Report, Monday 10/24/11, and was impressed by this Republican moderate. But one can be sure the Republicans will be having nothing to do with someone who has worked for a Democrat, especially when that Democrat is Obama.  See too Jon Huntsman on the tea party, the polls, and his hair: the Yahoo News interview.

What happened to NY City - a city once known for its openness and acceptance of diversity?

It is somewhat - maybe a lot - ironic that a city with a very popular Jewish mayor is becoming more and more like a police state. Of course it all in the name of fighting terrorism. Or is it more of the Jews - Muslim religious battle? See NYPD keeps files on Muslims who change their names. See too my post Bloomberg defends secret surveillance.

TriMet, facing another budget gap, remains disingenuous

TriMet seems surprised that they have a $12 - $17 mil budget shortfall. And that number is the one that TriMet hopes will act a cushion to the real shortfall that will slowly come to the forefront after the media does some analysis. After reading about $17 mil - the expected later, higher figure will not carry the same 'sticker' shock. [TriMet, facing another budget gap, looking for places to cut -- with some exceptions.]

How can that possibly be from a professionally administered organization? Of course the answer to the calls to stop the Milwaukie project is that the money comes from a different pot. And it does - TriMet operation and capital projects are different, except that once a line is built TriMet has to fund its operation. That only means that the budget gap, even if filled, will reappear.

TriMet like PDC is a bureaucracy that seeks to spend whatever it may cost the local businesses and taxpayers. And don't forget the TriMet foolishness with the Columbia River Crossing. There is no public oversight or spending controls over TriMet.

And take a look at the spending on the public 'art' that is slated for the Milwaukie line at the cost of $250,000. Sorry - let those who have the money buy this - and not force it onto the general public.

TriMet needs to stop building and start focusing on operation of the extant lines for the better of those it allegedly serves.

Maybe it needs to be privatized.

The Oregonian's Joseph Rose does a decent job in his post. In the comments he calls out TriMet on its failure to return phone calls and the fact that funding of a completed Milwaukie line will be part of the budget. Mr. Rose is one of the few - maybe the only one - that has some interaction with commenters.

Income inequality - is America the Ostrich?

The Economist
"A report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) points out that income inequality in America has not risen dramatically over the past 20 years—when the top 1% of earners are excluded. With them, the picture is quite different." [Income inequality in America: The 99 percent].

Congressional Budget Office
Between 1979 and 2007, "[t]he only quintile that has increased its share is the top 20 percent. And the top 1 percent has more than doubled its share." Top 20% (excluding the top 1%) 65% increase; top1% 275% increase. [New numbers: Income for top 1 percent skyrocketed over last 30 years].

It seems that 99% are hiding their heads in the sand or they are like the global warming doubters - just won't recognize it despite all the facts.

When you don't eat meat you think like PETA

Free Willy – his rights under the US constitution are being violated - The Independent: "PETA says that park has violated provision banning slavery in the United States."

Maybe it is time to do away with PDC

Dave Lister: "Maybe it's time to do away with the PDC. What the voters did in 1958 can be undone." I agree with his post in the Oregonian - PDC waste: Feeding at the trough -- but under polite cover. But he and people like me who attempt to expose the ruin PDC brings and has brought to Portland are pissing in the wind.

Once upon a time urban renewal was stealing pennies now it is stealing dollars from the taxpayers. It is a manipulative bureaucracy with manipulative little people who see government service as personal stepping stones for their better future.

Best yet they have managed to pull the wool over the eyes of Portlanders. The media in a sense refuses to cover the shenanigans at PDC. It is a rare moment that a "news reporter" makes an appearance at PDC meetings. Of course by the time the meetings are held the fix in already in.

PDC is a debt producer - not job producer. Ask most any Portlander about the source of PDC revenue - I submit that most don't realize where the dollars come from or where they go. It is not likely that they understand that property taxes are shifted from their ordinary purpose of providing basic services to paying off borrowed money for PDC projects. [See Tax increment financing.]

The 1%, 99% dichotomy is apparent in Portland. High property taxes with a substantial amount misdirected to urban renewal. PDC's wasteful projects that neither the citizens nor property tax payers have control over are tipping Portland into economic ruin.. This city doesn't act for the good of the 99% of its citizens, but acts for the benefit of the 1%.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Interesting Polls from CBS News

Poll: 43 percent agree with views of "Occupy Wall Street."

Poll: Americans say no one has good jobs plan.

Oregon ranks tenth in states with highest debt per person

It is a Reuters/Huffington Post story (via Jack Bog's Blog) based upon a report by States Budget Solutions: "10 States With The Highest Debt Per Person: Report. It might even be worse:
"The group, which follows state fiscal conditions and advocates for limited spending and taxes, said the deficit calculations that states make "do not offer a full picture of the states' liabilities and can rely on budget gimmicks and accounting games to hide the extent of the deficit."
Not surprising is that Oregon ranks 43rd in states economic performance outlook and 30th in economic performance. [Spreadsheet.]

All of this data comes from a conservative viewpoint justifying no tax increase and lamenting taxes like estate and sales taxes and also lamenting corporate taxes and minimum wage. But, having said that, this full report has a lot of information that is food for thought.

Compare states like Washington and Oregon in "Chapter Four State Rankings." In the report's chapter, Washington fares far better in economic performance and outlook rankings than Oregon seemingly based on the absence of personal income and corporate taxes in Washington.

WW: Columbia River Crossing’s budget is out of control

From the Willamette Week's article The Columbia River Crossing’s Out of Control Budget: "State transportation officials stood by as planning costs for the Interstate 5 Columbia River Crossing ballooned."

But it is more than that:
"Patricia McCaig is both a consultant to David Evans and the adviser to Gov. John Kitzhaber on the CRC project. She isn’t paid by Kitzhaber, but she’s billed David Evans $227,000 so far. McCaig says although the $45 million increase did not require approval of lawmakers or the states’ governors, it wasn’t just rubber-stamped."
She is a consultant paid by the contractor and is an unpaid consultant to the Oregon governor - no conflict there.

David Evans is the contractor that has been able to leverage an initial $20 mil contract into a $105 mil contract. According to the Willamette Week the total poroject expenditure has been $136 mil with nothing to show for it. It is a $3.5 BILLION project that doesn't fulfill its goal.
"But as WW has reported, the CRC’s own documents show the project won’t solve traffic problems, and that state officials based their cost estimates on inaccurate traffic projections (“A Bridge Too False,” WW, June 1, 2011). WW has also reported that state officials continue to mislead the public about the number of jobs the project will create (“Not True, Times Ten,”WW, June 15, 2011)."
Interesting aside is that Washington's sale tax is credited with driving Oregon's retail sales. One wonders whether the Columbia River Crossing, if ever built, will further increase Oregon's retail sales or because of the taxing of those that cross it will decrease?

 Political corruption without any benefit to either Washington or Oregon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An ordinary day for the police at Occupy Portland?

It is a must read: Portland Police Press Release with tales of mental illness, human excrement, fights, and other disturbances. One wonders when the Portland police will see the handwriting on the wall - it is not graffiti.

Judge: Portland officer's prior mistake can be presented to grand jury

The news media, e.g., Oregonian,  and local bloggers are straining to prematurely convict a Portland police officer whose mistake was in loading live ammunition into his shotgun instead of beanbag shot. The facts of the case have no value to these anti-cop protesters.

But this case is only at the grand jury level - which is not a trial in any respect. Grand jury only needs to determine a 'probable cause' violation of  the law to go to trial. See more on the grand jury.

The real issue ought to be how a police officer - any officer - can load live ammunition into a beanbag shotgun. Thus, if a shotgun is to be used only for beanbags - shouldn't it be impossible to loan regular shotgun shells?

Portland police officer arrested in Vancouver

This story that has appeared in the various local news media is troublesome. It is so for a variety of reasons. One is that the media merely repeated the police press release without one step away from the computer to acquire more information.

A quick Google check has the real story: "A Portland police officer went to the Vancouver apartment of his estranged wife and allegedly pointed a gun at her new boyfriend, threatening to kill him, according to court documents."

It is a divorce case as described by The Columbian. Read their article for some factual information. And that leads me to another media issue - attempts by the media to link a 2009 police matter with his conduct arising out of his extant divorce case. Having been a divorce attorney I know that a divorce can drive ordinary, well balanced people to do extraordinary things.

Biased reporting - and very lazy reporting at that - fails to provide facts and perspective on the arrest of this policeman. But it ties into the cop-hating mentality of the news media and local bloggers.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Crime numbers relating to gangs - has the media over hyped the gang incidents?

Arguably it seems that the media has over focused on the recent gang activity without looking at the big picture. It also seems fair to say that the city, that is the mayor, has - maybe without so intending - has caused gang issues to stand out. But it seems too that it is not necessarily that gang shootings are occurring, but it is where there are occurring that grabs the attention.

Apparently at the media's requests - the police department in a press release with 2 attached files provided statistics that seem to demonstrate that this year's gang problems is not that much different than previous years. Yes there is a higher count in the recent years because the Gang Violence Reduction Team investigates all incidents, not just those where someone was hurt.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Obama spins the withdrawal from Iraq

Obama: "Today, I can report that as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home from Iraq at the end of this year." "After nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over. Over the next two months our troops in Iraq--tens of thousands of them--will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home."

What is forcing the US military out of Iraq is the issue of immunity. "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says his country's refusal to grant immunity from prosecution to U.S. troops led to President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw the remainder of American forces by the end of the year."

Question still remains is whether the the troops will come home or be re-located to nearby countries?

It's time for Iraqis to leave the nest.

"For the first time in decades, Iraqis face a future on their own, with neither Saddam Hussein's iron fist nor the United States' military might to hold them together. This has been both their dream and nightmare: They wanted American troops (the occupiers) to go, but they wanted American troops (the protectors) to stay." [Conflicted Iraqis face future without US troops.]

Iraq has history on its side: "Iraq has been home to continuous successive civilizations since the 6th millennium BC. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is identified as the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of writing and the wheel."

It is their country and their problems - they need to work it out for themselves even if it is not what the US desires. 

Isn't this what government should be doing?

Listeria Outbreak Traced to Colorado Cantaloupe Packing Shed - "Government investigators said that workers had tramped through pools of water where listeria was likely to grow, tracking the deadly bacteria around the shed . . . ."

Good news - Daimler to hire for Portland operations

If one takes a look at the various media posts on this hiring you will see a variation in the number of intended hiring. And they leave it unclear as to whether this is a rehiring process or not. I guess it matters only to those that had been let go from Daimler.

But rather than quote the media post of choice - it is best to go to the company press release. Why the media can't do this is beyond me. Daimler intends to create approximately 350 new jobs in Portland by the end of 2012. 330 will be shop employees and 20 will be engineering and support positions.

Take a look at this left out of media reports:
DTNA will accept online applications for the machinist, material handler and maintenance positions at the Portland Truck Manufacturing Plant beginning Friday, October 21, 2011. In addition, more than 150 positions in the fields of mechanical, electrical, electronic, and manufacturing engineering are currently open at DTNA in Portland and other company locations.  [Emphasis added.]
With Oregon's high unemployment rate why are any of these 150 openings unfulfilled?

Here are some important details:
The current hiring activity is the first time since 2006 that DTNA has had open-market hiring for shop positions at this plant. Hiring of new employees will begin in November and the new production shift is slated to be at full capacity by February 2012. A second wave of hiring is planned for next summer to support the projected increase in demand.

Thanks to the Guardian: Iraq & Afghanistan casualties and deaths mapped by state

The Guardian has an excellent and informative interactive graph on the number of deaths and wounded in Iraq, and a similar one for Afghanistan. There is a pull-down that allows the map to be adjusted to show various alternative displays. E.g., absolute number of deaths or wounded; and the deaths or wounded per 100,000 population.

Koreas - still at war - and the war dead never recovered?

I suspect not many realize that the Korean War has never ended. There is an armistice - yet in 50 plus years not all of the US war dead have been recovered. Thus, here it is 2011 and the story continues: North Korea and US agree new search for US war dead:

One can imagine that the parents of the war dead have passed away, and that the surviving families can't be prepared to deal with the finality of these deaths of family members they probably never knew. Of course - there must have been an acceptance of their deaths - but "missing in action" leaves the door slightly ajar.

Arguably the recovery is symbolic only, but for many families, if not most, the ability to bury the dead is necessary to close that door in their memories.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Another failed stimulus application

The story is about politically connected Fisker and Tesla electric auto companies. The Fisker story "Car Company Gets U.S. Loan, Builds Cars In Finland" is similar to Solyndra but not entirely. Fisker received $519 million in loans but claims after the fact that there were no facilities in the US in which to build its cars. 

But apparently the federal money is not to be used in Finland. The Department of Energy signed off on Fisker's decision to assemble cars in Finland "so long as he did not spend the federal loan money in Finland."

Fisker: "We're not in the business of failing; we're in the business of winning. So we make the right decision for the business," Fisker said. "That's why we went to Finland." But how much are the federal dollars contributing to its business of winning in Finland? 

And admittedly there are no US jobs being created by the loans given to Fisker. "Henrik Fisker said the U.S. money so far has been spent on engineering and design work that stayed in the U.S., not on the 500 manufacturing jobs that went to a rural Finnish firm, Valmet Automotive."

Isn't design and engineering part of the risk of innovation taken by private companies? Why not spend that money on US facilities providing 500 manufacturing jobs? If one takes a peek at the Fisker website - you would think that the cars are being built in the US.

The whole concept about engineering and design is to build cars. Why should the US taxpayer pay that freight and not get the benefits of the manufacturing jobs?

The Tesla story is a little different but raises the same issues of the propriety of the loans. "Tesla's SEC filings reveal the start-up has lost money every quarter. And while its federal funding is intended to help it mass produce a new $57,400 Model S sedan, the company has no experience in a project so vast."

"In interviews, executives with Tesla and Fisker said comparisons to Solyndra are unfounded. Each said the government's investments will ultimately pay off by supporting a fleet of electric cars that will ease the nation's dependence on fuel and benefit the environment."

Assuming that they are successful in the manufacture and sale of electric vehicles - how will that translate to benefits for the US and its taxpayers. The easing of oil dependence and benefits to the environment are at best long range - what the US needs is jobs now - especially manufacturing jobs.

Look it is an excellent ABC News article found at Yahoo! News. Loaning taxpayer dollars to politically connected private businesses is only the tip of the issues iceberg. Certainly, the government investing in private companies in attempt to assure their profitability is wrong.

This is not an "investment in America" program - it is a give away to two politically connected car companies.

Will it ever stop?

Portland Police Press Release: "Shots fired in Southeast Portland"

Middle East weapons flow

With all the uprisings in places like Bahrain, Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Yemen where does all the weapons comes from? These were - and most still are - repressive regimes where human rights is not a consideration.

On one side of the coin - before the uprisings - the major players were US, UK, Russia, and Italy. See the interactive pie chart that allocates the dollars among the players. But who supplied (and supplies) the arms to other side during the uprisings? Presumably - the same countries.

It is difficult to see how it is in the best interests of the US - or any country - to supply weapons used not for defense but against the country's citizens. Consider this:
"The United States is currently considering selling Bahrain $53 million of Humvees, bunker-busting TOW missiles and other items, the first such sale to the Gulf island monarchy since protests erupted and were violently repressed earlier this year."
Bahrain - it is on the map - click (two steps) and look for a relatively small island in the Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Iran. There are better maps, but this one puts its size and geographic location into perspective. See Al Jazeera's county profile. It is important to note that it is the home for the US Navy's fifth fleet. Of course there is oil.

Is this weapons sale necessary to keep our base in Bahrain? Is it necessary to 'protect' oil interests? Is it necessary to counter Iran? Do democratic principles mean nothing?

The prisoner swap

Apparently Egypt played a role in the Israel-Palestinian prisoner swap - that's nice but if these countries can negotiate these swaps - why can't they negotiate an end to the war?

Guatemala - another troubling anti-democratic action by the US from our past

Guatemala leader Alvaro Colom apologises for 1954 coup engineered by the CIA: "the coup was a "crime [against] the Guatemalan society committed by the CIA and Guatemalans with bad intentions". [. . .] "It was above all a crime against him [Jacobo Arbenz], his wife, his family, but also a historic crime for Guatemala. This day changed Guatemala and we still haven't recovered."
"Arbenz was only the second freely elected president in Guatemala. Dubbed "the Soldier of the People”, he had promised to redistribute land to impoverished indigenous communities much to the ire of massive US agricultural investors in the country. 
He was overthrown on June 27, 1954, in a coup led by Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas that was engineered by the US Central Intelligence Agency. The coup helped trigger a 36-year civil war, according to Colom."
One must not forget Chile and CIA's involvement in the overthrow of another democratically elected president - Salvador Allende. The CIA and the US meddling in other countries - maybe the tactics have changed, but not much else.

Will Occupy Portland be far behind?

What started out as "a public reprisal of corporate greed, government bailouts and shrinking social programs have been co-opted in Oakland by young activists and scores of homeless denizens." [Occupy Oakland demonstration has taken ugly turn.]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Back to the washboard

Washing Machines Are Culprit in Plastic Pollution, Study Says.

I guess the Portland city council has its next target.

Finally a voice (lone) from Old Town

When Cindy's (to the right) still existed
"Louis Lee, a property owner and longtime activist in the downtown Chinese community, says he objects to the Burnside encampment being next to the Chinatown Gate."  [Portland Tribune].

That's his complaint? I suspect that Mr. Lee had a hard time finding his voice. The Old Town leadership is 'social services' dominated. One will not find a leader in either the neighborhood or business association speaking above a whisper. 

To be fair Mr. Lee wasn't too happy about the Cindy's Adult Bookstore being located there. Mr. Lee says the camp is disrespectful - to the Chinese community? But, it is not about any intended disrespect by the campers. Frankly my experience in Old Town was that few cared about the Gate. And there are few Chinese in the Old Town Chinese community - fewer as time goes by.

Somehow it seems right that the homeless have taken up camping at that corner in Old Town. It fits in with the rest of Old Town that the city has 'zoned' for social services and homeless. 

I wonder how many campers are making the trip to the Portland loo

It is nice to see Commissioner Fish squirm

I don't have much respect for Commissioner Fish. He is an empty headed liberal whose 'civil rights' credentials are borrowed from his loose association with civil rights causes. One suspects family wealth - like many liberal politicians - has enabled him to be like the upper class Englishmen of the late 19th and early 20th centuries - a lay about. See his official bio.

But here he is faced with his support for the homeless and his role as a city leader and head of the parks and the housing departments. Of course one cannot deny his liberal philosophical support for both the tent city folks and the Occupy encampment.

He whines about the damage being caused to the parks - spending unknown $$ to estimate (see Oregonian) the damages. Now he is concerned about serving all Portlanders: "These historic parks in the heart of the city serve all Portlanders." But see the fu*k you letter from Occupy Portland.

And he has taken no real stand on the homeless tent city established in Old Town.  "But Fish says he does not see a clear connection between the two encampments." [Portland Tribune.] He believes the fact that one group is occupying public property and the other private property makes it separate.

But both are ignoring city regulations as to zoning and park use. I will grant that enforcement will be different only because the land owner at NW 4th and Burnside is part of the problem. One can imagine that without the owners collaboration with the 'tent city,' the enforcement, i.e., removal, would have been quick.

The protests have lost their value. As each day goes by the reports of problems increase. Missing child, drug deals, shop lifting, etc. One wonders when the commissioner will grow a set and cause the parks to be cleared.

It is like bamboo . . .

. . . they planted - once the roots take hold it is difficult to remove. That's Occupy Portland and for that matter the new tent city at NW 4th and Burnside. Ignoring the inevitable only compounds the problem. They either have a legal right to be there or not.

As to the Occupy group - I don't know if they are causing more damage to the parks than other uses - but whatever the damage - they are not paying for it. They are not paying for the round-the-clock police. Nor are they reimbursing store owners for goods stolen.

Governments cannot politically select the laws they enforce.

Why did it take 1 year?

"The Neighborhood Response Team began this investigation over a year ago because of numerous neighborhood complaints. At one point a neighbor gave officers an 8 X 10 flyer found in the neighborhood that said "Heroin for sale" and it gave the address and the names of the dealers. At several Public Safety Action Team meetings neighbors told the Neighborhood Response Team Officers how bad the drug problem was in their neighborhood. Neighbors demanded something be done." [Portland Police Press Release].

Just what does it take for a search warrant? How many drugs were sold while the police apparently 'investigated?' And just how much time does anyone think they will spend in jail?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A flush to generate electric energy?

PDC the cash cow for the city has an agreement with Lucid Energy. The PDC release doesn't specifiy what Lucid Energy gets out of the agreement - but given most of the PDC partnerships - the city has given a lot.

What is Lucid Energy? "Lucid Energy is a provider of renewable energy systems. Our patented LucidPipe™ Power System enables industrial, municipal and agricultural facilities to produce clean, reliable, low-cost electricity from their gravity-fed water pipelines and effluent streams."

Mayor Adams (take with a grain of salt): "This agreement with Lucid Energy is an opportunity for us to extend Portland’s position as a living laboratory for green innovation and advanced manufacturing." "Commercializing new technologies in our marketplace will lead to more jobs, more investment, and more exports of locally-developed systems."

Unless there is much more to this story - what the mayor said doesn't follow. The jobs that might be created are those to install the LucidPipe Power System.

This is developing technology yet unproven. A read of the Lucid Energy website notes that it is cautionary in tone. No absolute proven commercial successes.

This news story might be of some interest.

Or how about this from KBND: "The City of Portland is going to work with a company called Lucid Energy to test a system to create hydro-power using city water pipes. David Shaff, the City Water Bureau Drector: “They’ll have to pay for creating the vaults, the pipes, the bypasses, all that. What we’re doing is, working with them identifying where this would actually be able to be located for that test bed.” Right now, Lucid Energy is looking for $5-million in venture capital to underwrite the work."

So what is the city - Lucid Energy partnership?

Brady's economic plan - sewing?

Jack Bog's Blog has this on mayoral candidate Brady: Brady's economic plan: Would you believe sewing? While his post picked out the point on economic planning, i.e., working with PDC, but her whole speech needs a read. What follows is mostly my comment to his post.

It is too bad that she didn't stick to the four points mentioned in the opening paragraph. She bypassed the "transforming public safety" - police department? And she ignores the opportunity how she would improve Portland Public Schools.

Hopefully too Portlanders will recognize that "PDC" means urban renewal and its tax increment financing.

Who is the mayor will change, but it seems from her vision and economic planning the same developers can be assured that they can still feed at the city-developer welfare trough.

She also, like many, seems to confuse the city of Portland with metro Portland. Although there is not much 'meat on the bones' whatever jobs she might inspire - they probably will not be in the city of Portland.

And her attempted link to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates is just too much. "As geniuses like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were bringing their ideas to market I decided to risk my career to help create some of the first digital high tech products like educational CD ROMs. I had a front row seat to the new American economy as it grew into a multi-billion dollar industry."

Her saving grace - she would be better than Sam Adams. But then who wouldn't be?

Banning hybrids from HOV lanes slows everyone down - really?

Autobloggreen has this conclusion from some University of California at Berkeley researchers: Banning hybrids from HOV lanes slows everyone down. HOV is an euphemism for car pool. The research area was the San Francisco Bay Area. An excellent resource - see FHWA Office of Operations - A Review of HOV Lane Performance in the United States: Final Report, especially Section Four.

For sure, it seems counter intuitive. If viewed from the other side of the coin - it makes some sense, that is, allowing more cars into the HOV (car pool) lanes allows less congestion in the non-HOV lanes because there are less cars. And because the HOV lanes are not congested to start with - allowing more cars to be in those lanes may not increase the congestion noticeably.

Fritz tells protesters they can stay in parks

It is a Portland Tribune story: Fritz tells protesters they can stay in parks"Commissioner Amanda Fritz told Occupy Portland protesters Tuesday afternoon that their constitutional rights override city restrictions against camping in public parks."

She is wrong on so many levels. One wonders even why she felt compelled to make such a statement. Constitutional rights are not the bailiwick of nurse Amanda. It isn't up to her or anyone on the city council to determine whether the protesters' constitutional rights supersede the city's laws and regulations.

Just when I begin to think she has a head on her shoulders - she puts me straight.

Letter from China: China’s Bystander Effect : The New Yorker

In an earlier post I referenced this New Yorker blog post about the 2 year old child run over by a truck - ignored by pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclist, and hit by another truck before someone came to her aid.  It has a link to a video clip that for whatever reason I could get to work well. But today I looked at the clip and it streamed well.

The point is that the full impact of the incident comes from the video. It is almost unbelievable that so many (18) would go past this little girl laying in the street. Not one called for help except the last person that took action and dragged the girl out of the street and called for help bringing the mother.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The market has spoken

It is a massive failure on the part of the anti-car green movement: Only 4% of consumers likely to be satisfied with today's electric vehicles. A study found "the vast majority of those surveyed weren't willing to accept an electric vehicle's limited range, high sticker price or the inconvenience of waiting for it to recharge."

From the press release by the study's author Deloitte: "In fact, consumers' expectations around performance and purchase price are so divergent from the actual offerings available today, that no more than 2 to 4 percent of consumers worldwide would have their expectations met, according to the survey."

There is an unwillingness to pay a price premium for an EV. "Specifically, consumers will not pay more for an electric vehicle than they currently pay for a comparable vehicle with a gasoline or diesel engine."

And fuel economy is a major factor. "At 50 miles-per-gallon, the majority of consumers around the world lose interest in electric vehicles - and if today's gasoline or diesel vehicles consistently hit 75 miles-per-gallon, interest in pure battery electric vehicles falls off the cliff."

It seems that the fear of climate change, i.e., global warming, and peak oil is of little concern.

Different perspective: Anti-capitalist protesters set up tent cities

From an online German publication The Local: Anti-capitalist protesters set up tent cities. In the US it is characterized as against corporate greed - far from being anti-capitalist. There is a difference in the style of the protesters too. One is quoted: "We are here for political reasons, not for partying.” 

And the protests are being conducted with permits and are non-confrontational. One protester: "We're staying as long as we have permits to stay." "If we have to clear the place, we'll leave peacefully, but we're constantly applying for new permits to stay."

The German government appear to support the protests to some degree. E.g., government spokesman: "the protestors’ actions reflected a “deep concern and legitimate desire for human justice.”  Finance minister: "the government was taking the situation “very seriously,” and warned of a “crisis of the democratic system.” He called for stronger and fairer regulation of the banking sector:"

Willamette Week's Occupier of the Day

The blog is a daily profile of an occupier in the Portland protests. I don't know how they pick someone to profile, but the diversity is interesting. Today's occupier believes that Ron Paul is a thinker and characterizes herself as libertarian and fiscal conservative. She seems quick to point out: “This isn’t a liberal movement."

But she apparently contradicts her anti-liberal pro-libertarian ideals with her support of national health care, at least German style. She says that as a student in Europe her health care was entirely covered. But, not so in the US where care of an infected finger was billed at $30k with $1,100 covered by her student health insurance.

She is 28, educated, works and is debt free. I bet she doesn't smoke pot. What are protests coming to?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Political appointees in line for guaranteed severance pay?

Portland bureau directors start out as political appointees and typically leave with a change in bureau political leadership. The city council is to vote on severance pay for directors fired without cause before they reach their third year. [The Oregonian].

Directors are at-will employees, therefore subject to being fired without cause at any time. It is Commissioner Fish that is promoting item 1106 on the agenda. It is unclear the purpose of the change in termination policy.

The rationale supporting this proposal:
"Employment agreements with top-level government officials are becoming more commonplace and are a critical tool in recruiting for highly skilled bureau directors." 
"[N]ot only increases accountability but makes the City of Portland an attractive employer for top notch talent at the highest levels in the organization."
But neither hold water when the directors are political appointments.

Family bliss

"Officers arrived and learned that the disturbance started at a residence near the intersection when a 48-year-old man was involved in an argument with several of his step-sons who are in their late teens. The step-sons began banging on their step-dad's truck then walked to the corner of 160th and Burnside. The step-dad then drove his truck down to the corner and hit three of the teens with the truck, slow speed.

Step-dad returned to his residence and the teens followed. Step-dad pulled out a machete and struck one of the teens, and the teens grabbed rakes, PVC pipe and large posts and began striking step-dad."

Portland Police Press Release.

Anti-Wall St. movement - Portland can't get any respect

Yahoo! News had this coverage of the Occupy protests that must have disappointed the Occupy Portland organizers, protesters and Mayor Adams: Anti-Wall St. movement grows to dozens of cities. Not only is a dozen is a far cry from Mayor Adams' claim of hundreds, but Portland didn't even rate a mention.

I have wondered whether the Portland protest is viable and whether its 'party' atmosphere doesn't detract from otherwise valid reasons to protest. For another perspective see Held to Answer: "Dancing at the Revolution."

Materialism to the extreme - 2 year old left in the street where she was hit by a truck

It is a big story in China and elsewhere: Outcry in China over hit-and-run toddler left in street. A faults cited many times in the various coverage was the growing materialism of the Chinese society. "Now people ignore everything other than money. This society is lacking people with a conscience badly."

The BBC article notes two cases where some commenters "said they understood the dilemma for the passers-by - that if they helped out they might incur costs or be blamed for the accident. 

One wonders though if such an event does or could happen in our country - with a higher form of materialism? Is it just one event that the media has seized upon? Or is it a reflection of what China is becoming. It doesn't seem very social. It would be an odd culture where people either fear to get involved or choose not to get involved because of a lack of compassion.

See a New Yorker Letter from China blog piece about the incident. It has more details and insight about China.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's about time: Bishop charged with failure to report sex abuse

"[T]he first time in the 25-year history of the church’s sex abuse scandals that the leader of an American diocese has been held criminally liable for the behavior of a priest he supervised." [Kansas City Bishop Charged With Failure to Report Abuse.]

Read the story - who is it that the Catholic Church seeks to protect? Certainly not children. One wonders how the Bishop after discovery - assuming that he didn't know beforehand - of the priest's lewd photographs of young children - took this action:
Bishop Finn sent Father Ratigan to live in a convent and told him to avoid contact with minors. But until May the priest attended children’s parties, spent weekends in the homes of parish families, hosted an Easter egg hunt and presided, with the bishop’s permission, at a girl’s First Communion, according to interviews with parishioners and a civil lawsuit filed by a victim’s family.
What kind of person stands by and permit sexual predatory conduct by another? Especially if the person is a Bishop and the other is a priest. 

Candidates Bachmann and Cain and Illegal Immigration

Bachmann and Cain would be a very odd couple in places like Portland, but they are touching on issues of concern to many Americans. One example is illegal immigration. Now it is very easy to dismiss these two as mere opportunistic right wing Republicans - but polls suggest that it is an issue across the political spectrum. It seems that most want some reform. It is a mistake for the Democrats and liberals to ignore this issue.

It is called hijacking: Education activists seek to collaborate with Occupy Wall Street

The education 'keep it as it is' anti-reform advocates are attempting to hijack the Occupy movement or at least ride piggy-back. If one wants to know what is wrong with the education system in the US the Washington Post, Answer Sheet blog gives an insight.

Answer Sheet provides a platform for 'credentialed' education advocates that have a goal of maintaining the status quo in k-12 education. It is biased in the worse sense offering nothing but criticism and resistance to any reform measure. They offer nothing positive of their own. Of course they care about the children, no make that teachers.

Now we know why Cain wouldn't disclose his advisors

Cain has good reasons not to name economic and foreign policy advisers - the Koch brothers.

Rick Perry officials doctoring environment report

Rick Perry officials spark revolt after doctoring environment report: "By academic standards, the protest amounts to the beginnings of a rebellion: every single scientist associated with the 200-page report has demanded their names be struck from the document."

Texas state officials have censored an environmental report on the state of Galveston Bay. It has removed - censored - all mention of climate change and sea level rise.
"They just simply went through and summarily struck out any reference to climate change, any reference to sea level rise, any reference to human influence – it was edited or eliminated," said Anderson. "That's not scientific review that's just straight forward censorship." [John Anderson, an oceanography at Rice University, and author of the chapter targeted by the government censors.]
It seems that the more we know about Rick Perry the more it seems that he shifts towards the extreme right of the Republican Party. But more to the point - why can't the politicians like Perry that oppose the concept of climate change do it based upon facts rather than censorship? 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What happened to America's leadership: NASA buys flights on private spaceship

NASA buys flights on private spaceship. And the company is Virgin Galactic, founded by Sir Richard Branson.

It's about time: US drops plans to keep troops in Iraq

But is it a facade? From this article US drops plans to keep troops in Iraq the US may just move the troops across the border to Kuwait remaining ready to 'invade' Iraq at its earliest convenience. Bahrain just south of Kuwait hosts the US Navy. Let's hope that it is more than a relocation of troops - they need to come home.

WTF? Passenger train hits another passenger train at Oakland station

This is a moving - coming into the station - train and another already there unloading passengers - and the one trains collides with the other. One has to understand that this station is not some station of the past - it is small out house like station located next to parallel tracks that has good visibility in both directions. Take a peek at Google map. Zoom in to see the station and tracks.

The station is on the outskirt of Jack London Square in downtown Oakland. In between a parallel set of tracks is a platform. Switches put the trains on one or the other set of tracks. Trains travelling on these tracks would unlikely be moving faster than 5 miles per hour - it would be a crawl. And there is more than enough room to park a train prior to entering the station without impeding regular train traffic.

How did they get on the same tracks and where was the train engineer of  the moving train? Amtrak isolated ineptitude?

Shaking hands with the Occupy protesters will not fulfill the promise of 10k jobs

The Willamette Week reports of the mayor shaking hands with the protesters and apparently giving his approval for an indefinite stay in the occupied parks. But shouldn't we remember the mayor's 10,000 new jobs promise and his much touted (by him) economic strategy? His promises and economic policies haven't produced a single new net job.

Occupy protest - is it real and viable?

I like the idea that ordinary Americans might take to the street to protest federal government policies. In that sense I appreciate the efforts of the Tea Party. While they did in fact influence the Republican Party and did elect some Tea Party supporters - it turns out that those elected haven't made much of a dent in the political sector.

Frankly from an American perspective their 'protests' had a more sound basis than the Occupy group. And while they may have been inarticulate in expressing the rationale for 'protests,' they did it without occupying anything. They did it without the party atmosphere that seems to accompany the Occupy Portland group.

I often wonder whether the party atmosphere that seems to go hand in hand with the protests of the liberal-left doesn't act to diminish the validity of the protests.  It is difficult to see credibility in the Occupy Portland protests. Take a peek at the comments to the PolitiFact Oregon post and see the Willamette Week's "on the ground" coverage as well as its "Occupier of the Day" Oct 13 and Oct 15.

Arguably there is little difference between the Occupy Portland protests and that of the 4th and Burnside camp. There is a similar and familiar political thread in the two camps - but the homeless camp has more credibility. One suspects that those of the Occupy group are not suffering economically as those in the homeless camp.

Yet the city turns away from one and supports the other -WTF?

Occupy Portland - the Mayor is an enabler

The PolitiFact Oregon determined that the mayor was less than truthful when he claimed hundreds of cities have Occupy camps nationally.  Amy Luiz, mayor's spokesperson, refined it a bit: The mayor "was referring to the entire range of protests, from full-fledged to nascent." Thus "[h]undreds of mayors are dealing with this issue."

When it comes to applications of the city laws and regulations there should be no political, or other, distinction as to enforcement. A protest for better or worse takes form from the lawfulness or unlawfulness of the protesters' conduct.

Contrast the mayor's policy toward the Occupy protesters with his policy against the homeless encampment at 4th and Burnside. It seems obvious that the mayor is enabling the Occupy group when he uses his personal politics to determine enforcement of city ordinances and regulations.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

DSK "attempted rape inquiry dropped" is a headline that doesn't tell the story

If one read nothing but the headline this would be missed: "French prosecutors said there was evidence Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted a young French writer, but they have dropped the investigation against him for attempted rape." There is a 3 year statute of limitation on sexual assault.

The writer has written 128 page novelization of her encounter with DSK. The excepts in the Guardian are telling. This gives a flavor: "Suddenly his message on my telephone came back to me: 'So, I scared you?' That was eight years ago."

She characterizes him as a baboon.

And like many rape victims - she found that her 'supporters' lost their will to stand up and be counted when it was most needed: "How many suddenly disappeared the moment they were asked to sign a written declaration, when they had to photocopy their identity card to authenticate the statement?"

SW Main reopened - but . . . .

In the effort to reopen SW Main, the Portland Police arrested 8. However, these were not youthful protesters, but maybe that is appropriate. 8 people arrested with an average age of 30. Oldest is 41 and youngest is 22. One might wonder what city is their residence.

Yes they reopened the street after much begging by the city and the police - but what about the camps in between? Not surprisingly the homeless camp at NW 4th and Burnside use the city's attitude and approach to the Occupy protesters as an example of a double standard. [See Old Town homeless camp refuses to budge.]

One wonders what this 'laissez-faire' approach to protesters camping in the parks and blocking the streets is costing the city? Hasn't the city gone just a little to far?

PPS outstanding - like a sore thumb

Two Oregonian articles showcases the sad state of PPS. In the story on Aloha High school we have the chance to compare PPS to two other school districts in the area - Hillsboro and Beaverton. While there may be something to cheer about at Aloha High - take a peek at the school districts and schools referenced in the article. There are some schools doing well, but way too many not doing well at all.

PPS seems to excel at not doing well. The low percentage of graduates and high percentage of dropouts has PPS as outstanding in a field of low performance. The US Education Secretary Duncan in the other Oregonian article hits on the PPS's education system, specifically its graduation rate of 54%:
""If young people drop out of high school today, there are no jobs out there for them, none. We are condemning people to poverty and social failure," he said. "We all have to be working to get those graduation rates to 100 percent as fast as we can... You can have the best third grade test scores in the world, but if you have a 54 percent graduation rate, we're not there yet. That is an issue that has to be faced with brutal honesty... When you have these devastatingly high dropout rates, that's untenable."
  "I don't think you can have a great city unless you have a great education system, and I would urge the city to take that on directly."
I wonder when Portlandia will wake up and grasp that education has to be the city's priority. Aren't parents, with an ability to choose, that send their children to substandard public schools impairing their children's economic future?

Aren't charter and private schools the better choices? But, leaving children in a substandard school system because of a misplaced belief in the 'benefits' of public education is plain wrong.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mitt Romney might well be the Democrats' front runner

The Economist has an interesting take on Romney as the Republicans' not wanted front runner and on the other candidates. Worth the read to see us from afar. But, here is my point - Romney might well be the Democratic front runner - wanted or not.

He is not that much different from Obama - thus the Republican fear. It seems they would prefer ideologues rather than a moderate like Romney. He is more in line with the Democratic moderates and right wing but not that much of an anathema to the left.

Given the Republican slate - Romney may be the Democratic front runner too - likely to pick up the disappointed and disgusted Democrats looking for an alternative to four more years of Obama.

Query - would a Republican controlled congress and a Republican president be more or less likely to snatch us from economic despair?

Old Town homeless - Cindy's campground - whither the neighborhood?

I guess if one had only two choices - the old Cindy's with its prostitution and drug use or a homeless camp - the latter would be preferable. But Old Town does have more than its share - an unfair share - of concentration of social services that draw the homeless to Old Town for needed services. But until the Resource Access Center - there was little housing of the homeless on anything other than a temporary basis.

Whither the neighborhood? For a start one might read these two posts Urban Development - Neighborhood and Old Town: Overwhelmed by crack defining the Old Town neighborhood. The neighborhood has been on a long downward slope for quite some time. It apparently hasn't reached the bottom yet.

That slope has been well greased by the city and aided by neighborhood apathy. Some city grease - the Resource Access Center, public loos as well as a lack luster drug enforcement. And the apathetic neighborhood associations - one allegedly made up of residents and the other allegedly represents businesses - act much like Curling sweepers clearing the downward path from obstacles.

In none of the media reports on the new homeless camp do we read about either the neighborhood or business associations having anything to say. Mostly this is because both organizations are controlled by the social service industry that dominates Old Town.

This comment was found (brought to my attention) in the Mercury article on the camp.
As a Old Town business owner, I gotta say that with the concentrated social services in OTCT, and abandonment of city redevelopment assistance in the neighborhood (because PSU district is really hurting, PDC TO THE RESCUE!) it feels like we're kind of reaching capacity as far as what OTCT can sustain as far as shelters/outreach/social services are concerned, and still remain a place to do business.
I'm fully for the city doing everything it can to help the homeless/disadvantaged, but how about we spread it around a bit? I'm guessing there aren't too many businesses on NW 9th and Everett, or 39th and Hawthorne that have to clean urine out of their shop doorways every single morning. 
What is interesting is that this comment is the same as those I used to hear from commercial business owners when I lived in Old Town from 2004 to 2010. But the truth of the matter is that, then as apparently now, the "leaders," with one exception, in Old Town didn't, and still don't, give a rats' ass about commercial business.

The neighborhood association continues its lack of leadership and the business association is pure bunk. Old Town will continue its decline into the past unless some active leadership is formed that is devoid of social service influence. The problem in Old Town is not the 'table,' but who is at the table.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Loss of 20 years because of hippie values?

It is an interesting story in the Independent: 'My parents had no idea of the damage their hippie values did to me.'
 My parents believed that I was very artistic and all my skill and potential simply hadn't been tapped into. But their intention to encourage creativity and a free spirit totally backfired.
It has a somewhat happy ending - he is alive and is doing relatively well considering his 20 years of drug abuse and crime to support the drug abuse. But society doesn't get a free pass. He wanted to be arrested because he thought he would get the help he needed. Ironically, but not unexpected, he recounts: 
They [the justice system] saw that I came from a respectable family and so they would send me off and expect my parents to pick up the pieces. They stereotype addicts and the more deprived background they come from, the more likely they are to get a prison sentence. I probably had about 20 offences to my name, but still they would only give me a conditional discharge. 

Controversial Old Town lot is now a homeless camp

The media has latched onto the "controversial" term used by the Portland Tribune. What is controversial is how the city is dealing with what appears to be an illegal encampment. Of course they don't want to call it a camp - it is a residential community. Oh please!.

In reality this is merely an attempt by the property owner who is still pissed about the destruction of his Cindy's Adult Book Store. Interestingly enough the Tribune ignores the facts about the bookstore and owner - calling it an adult book store is misleading and exposes the author's momentary absence of journalistic integrity.

The book store - if it only sold adult books - porn - would still be standing today.  It was facilitating in-store prostitution and drug use. The neighborhood association had worked for years to close down that part of the store.

See my Old Town Blog post and the referenced Tribune article. Here is a partial profile of the property owner Wright from the Tribune article:
In 1971 Wright was convicted for a murder that prosecutors said was arranged by his then-stepfather, Vincent L. Capitan — considered a major local crime figure by law enforcement officials. Wright also has done time for cocaine trafficking.
See too Street Roots blog post. How disingenuous this from the camping advocate Mubarak:
Dan Cossette and Michael Wright have done this out of the goodness of their hearts. I wish others would follow suit and do this. Maybe you would see more people get off the streets, and maybe you would see more people become productive.

"Hackers crack German government spy software"

One more story demonstrating the ineptitude of government, this time the German government, using technology, i.e., software, for ostensibly a proper purpose - "to track down criminals." There isn't enough in the story or its companion stories that demonstrates how the 'tracking' works. Apparently though there are no safeguards to keep it from hackers or to keep the collected data safe from exposure.
The hackers [Chaos Computer Club] also expressed concern that the programme sent the data it culled back to the authorities via a server in the United States. This put potentially sensitive data of German citizens and companies at risk of exposure in a country that “actively engages in economic espionage in Germany.” [The Local].
Privacy concerns ought to be enough to worry about, but one might consider too that US drones [have been] infected by key logging virus. Third party control over drones that can and do launch missiles may be our worse nightmare coming true.

Another resident shot dead - in his doorway

As I noted in a prior blog post - shootings seem to have become routine and meaningless to the city and its police department. The Oregonian had coverage, but it was odd in that it published an accompanying odd photo of a neighbor and self-identified friend of the victim.

Clearly an inappropriate picture of neighbor Williams showing her smiling - rather large smile at that -  apparently about the event. It should not have been published by the Oregonian. One wonders why any picture? 

What did the Oregonian think the photo would contribute to the story? It makes her appear rather cold about the murder of her friend. I doubt that she deserves that.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ecoliner electric buses

I watched Jay Leno's Garage this morning and was impressed with this bus. Why haven't I heard about it before - well AutoBlogGreen had the story last year.

Apparently it has a year's in use experience in the Southern California Foothill Transit. One of its best feature is that it can be charged in about ten minutes and that it can use an inductive method of charging - the bus merely pulls under the charging canopy and waits.

What is especially dissatisfying though is the lack of followup on this venture. After a year's use - the data ought to be most illuminating - but I see nothing anywhere. It is hard to believe that there has been no problems - but it would seem that it has been successful.

And what about costs as compared to the regular non-electric bus or even other types of electric buses?  It ought to be virtually maintenance free - but was it?

It is not too difficult to find faults with the bus as a use in regular service. One might be that the need for the charging station - however convenient - requires fixed, and maybe short, routes.  I don't know, but this bus seems to have great potential - but it seems unlikely that there will be followup reports.

Occupy X - protests being hijacked?

Will the Occupy protests spawn a Democratic "Tea Party?" As might be expected - as soon as the Republicans lashed out at the protests the Democrats couldn't wait to put a hook into it.
"We share the anger and frustration of so many Americans who have seen the enormous toll that an unchecked Wall Street has taken on the overwhelming majority of Americans while benefitting the super wealthy," Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the co-chairs of the House Progressive Caucus, said in a statement last week."  CBS News:

But there is a Republican presidential candidate that has connected to the protests - Buddy Roemer. Who - you might ask? According to CBS News he is a former Louisiana governor and former democrat. This statement by Mr. Roemer will certainly warm some protesting hearts:
"[M]oney and politics has created institutional corruption" in America and that "both parties are guilty of taking the big check and are bought by Wall Street."
I like it. Read the CBS News story on Roemer - he has more to say that should resonate with more than just liberals - it is a middle/working class theme.

Voter fraud or disenfranchised voters

I wonder why it is the Republican controlled states that are passing photo ID laws for voter eligibility. To prevent voter fraud, but when has voter fraud been an issue? It is more likely as "Democrats counter that the new laws are a solution in search of a problem, since voter fraud is rare." [].

The Democrats see the issue as disenfranchisement of their voting base. And, there are apparently a substantially large number of people who don't have the the required ID. But I admit that I wonder if the Republicans don't have a point, at least as to potential fraud. And I wonder too why IDs are being resisted.

[Update. See this New York Times that explains the problem - it is the requirements of  government issued photo ID cards. "Seven states this year have passed laws requiring strict photo ID to vote, and similar measures were introduced in 27 other states. More than 21 million citizens — 11 percent of the population — do not have government ID cards."]

Why is it the Republicans find themselves on the other side of democracy. Of course these attempts to erase the non-existent voter fraud are much like gerrymandering that both parties work at. Interesting too is that the GOP seems well versed in voting fraud - see this CBS News story of straw voting 'fraud.'

Maybe if voting fraud is an issue it would be better to focus on the hazards of the new technology voting machines that can be that "can be hacked with "just $10.50 in parts and an 8th grade science education." [CBS News]. That is real disenfranchisement.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Portland's police retreat

The Oregonian's Maxine Berstein who won't get a kind word for me has this article that is in a sense a follow up to an incident where the police largely ignored the clear and present danger of a mentally disturbed individual - but aren't they all when they threaten the lives of others? See my post and the police press release.

The gist of the article is that the Portland police are using a 'step-back' approach when dealing with those with mental health issues. Now all of that is fine and good - but in this case the police stepped way too far back - putting the lives of others in jeopardy.

The police didn't take action to protect the neighbors until they had determined that he had committed a crime ignoring their first opportunity to arrest and subject him to confinement because of the present and clear danger he presented to himself and others.

Check this image and read the police press release and the Oregonian story. It is pure luck that the man didn't injure or kill someone in the process of the police stepping back - maybe 'retreat' is a better term?

The mental health status of an individual should not deter the police from protection and service to the community threaten.

What did we get from Iraq in exchange for the lives of our armed forces and $billions?

There ought to be a 'lesson learned' from Iraq and applied to Afghanistan. See If U.S. Leaves Vacuum in Iraq, Disliked Iran May Not Fill It: "One aim of the American invasion here was to establish a moderate center of Shiite Islam, democratically inclined and oriented to the West, that would be a counterbalance to Iran’s system of clerical rule. However, something like the reverse seems to have happened."

See too Iraq, siding with Iran, sends “lifeline to Assad:” "More than six months after the start of the Syrian uprising, Iraq is offering key moral and financial support to the country’s embattled president, undermining a central U.S. policy objective and raising fresh concerns that Iraq is drifting further into the orbit of an American arch rival — Iran."

Tell me again why we went into Iraq? And why are still in Iraq and in Afghanistan? Why didn't we learn from the Russian experience? See this 1999 review from the University of Cambridge Press: "The Afghanistan war and the breakdown of the Soviet Union."

Shootings? What shootings?

It doesn't take long before a shooting becomes routine and apparently pointless for the police and the mayor to even express their concern and outrage. The media presents it as another ho-hum event with little more than a regurgitated police press release.

The recent police Press Release tells about a seemingly innocent person having another car pull up next to his and firing shots at him hitting his car but not him. Also in the release is a reference to an earlier shooting - apparently unrelated - but not that far away.

It is telling when a city ceases to be concerned about gangs and shootings.

Ho-hum. I wonder what is on TV?

U.S. Supreme Court allows the Nazi salute case to go to trial

Last December I had a post Speech, Cranky and Free where in 2002 the then Santa Cruz council expelled a man for a Nazi salute. I mentioned then that from the video the salute was so quick that it was difficult to say that it was a Nazi salute. And there were no accompanying words of Heil Hitler

The man sued the city with the city expending a goodly sum of money took its attempt to block the suit to the US Supreme Court. Not surprisingly - U.S. Supreme Court allows Santa Cruz Nazi salute case to go to trial.

Take a peek at the Petition [it is at the bottom of the article] by and for the city council. Note that the lawyers for the city are not city lawyers but outside counsel. Practice at the US Supreme Court is specialized and is not for the ordinary attorney. Thus one can expect legal fees to be splendid.

In a search of the federal appellate decision there is not one hit for "hate." But look at how the attorneys frame the legal issue in their Petition to the Supreme Court - the First Amendment does not extend to "hate" gestures. Nice try but no cigar.  It is in the appellate decision that one gets a better 'education' on free speech.

Protecting your constitutional rights is not easy or speedy much less inexpensive.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Watch out Oregon - the feds seem serious

"Prosecutors Friday described it as the first coordinated statewide offensive against marijuana dealers and suppliers who use California's 15-year-old medical marijuana law as legal cover for running sophisticated drug trafficking ventures in plain sight." [Feds announce Calif. pot dispensary crackdown.]

Might consider this too. "The Dutch government said Friday it would move to classify high-potency marijuana alongside hard drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, the latest step in the country's ongoing reversal of its famed tolerance policies." And just a reminder possession of marijuana is illegal in the Netherlands, although there is no prosecution for small amounts. [SFGate].

And say it is't true - might be the words coming from the liberals who use the Netherlands as the positive example of regulated drug and prostitution: "The ongoing Dutch crackdown on marijuana is part of a decade-long rethink of liberalism in general that has seen a third of the windows in Amsterdam's famed prostitution district shuttered and led the Netherlands to adopt some of the toughest immigration rules in Europe." [SFGate].

Economy adds 103,000 jobs - nearly meaningless

The headline - Economy adds 103,000 jobs, but it's not enough  is misleading because the number is more like 58,000. 

The September unemployment rate is 9.1%. While 103,000 jobs were added nationally - that included 45,000 Verizon workers who were rehired after their strike. 58,000 jobs is far less than the 125,000 jobs per month that balances population growth.

"While corporate profits and the stock market have bounced back [. . .] there are 14 million people counted as unemployed in the United States. An additional 9.3 million are working part time and would rather work full time. And 2.5 million more have simply given up looking for a job."

Senior energy official appalling lack of ethics - but not surprising.

E-Mail Shows Senior Energy Official Pushed Solyndra Loan - "A senior Energy Department official pushed hard for the government’s $535 million loan to the now-bankrupt California solar energy company Solyndra even after he had disclosed that his wife’s law firm represented the company and he had promised to recuse himself from matters related to the loan application. . . ."

The Los Angeles Times notes that the spouse's pay was structured by her law firm so that she didn't earn anything from any work the firm did on Solyndra - are we to believe that her influence will go unnoticed? She is a partner (take a peek at her bio) in the firm. But at least the firm took the steps to avoid conflict of interest.

It matter not the administration - Republican or Democrat - ethics are absent. Who would have thought that emails would have an impact in exposing unethical conduct? Of course the conduct is not considered unethical by energy department's watchdog.

What is that old phrase - 'if it walks like a duck . . .?'  Even though the official - apparently one because he was an Obama fund raiser - was recused from decisions on the merits of the loan - he, in the 'another way to skin a cat' scheme of Washington's 'doing business as usual,'  used other tactics to push the loan.

Read either story - NY Times or LA Times. It is not about public service - it is about 'feathering your own nest.' Corrupt is an all too easy label - but it certainly seems apt.

Michael Bloomberg - disingenuous

I support free speech but only as I see it - so seems to be Mayor Bloomberg's thinking. Somehow he links the Wall Street protests to a false assertion - "What they're trying to do is take the jobs away from people working in this city."

Maybe Bloomberg hasn't read the news:
"While corporate profits and the stock market have bounced back [. . .] there are 14 million people counted as unemployed in the United States. An additional 9.3 million are working part time and would rather work full time. And 2.5 million more have simply given up looking for a job."
And while he apparently sees nothing wrong with the Vietnam War protests - that free speech he approves - his biographer says that "[h]e believes in getting things done, and he doesn’t think this is the way things get done,” she said. “He’s an action guy.” And what action is he taking?

And I guess the protesters are not taking action - at least not the kind Bloomberg would take. But of course he is not taking any action against the Wall Street "mistakes" that has nearly destroyed the economy not to mention the lives of Americans with mortgages and Wall Street investments.

Of course it bears consideration that he is Bloomberg of Bloomberg. See this except from Wikipedia: He has "a net worth of $18.1 billion in 2011, he is also the 13th-richest person in the United States.[3]He is the founder and eighty-eight percent owner of Bloomberg L.P., a financial news and information services media company." 

Vested interests? I would say so.

Carbon dioxide coin - sources and sinks

The NY Times With Deaths of Forests, a Loss of Crucial Climate Protectors stresses the importance of trees to the recycling process of carbon dioxide. Typically the media has much to say about the sources of carbon dioxide like fossil burning fuels that are increasing the greenhouse effect raising the earth's temperatures. But little, or not enough, is said about the importance of sinks like the forests and oceans.

Reducing the negative (there are many positive ones) effects of  greenhouse gas is typically the focus of the global warming advocates. While blaming humans - that reads those burning fossil fuels - for the increase in the sources of carbon dioxide, little is said about the human destruction of the sinks like the forests by corporations, bio-fuels entrepreneurs, and the like.

While fossil fuels are part of the negative side of the carbon dioxide coin, forests are the positive side. "[F]orests have been absorbing more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide that people are putting into the air by burning fossil fuels and other activities." So too the oceans absorb about one-quarter. [NYTimes].

Friday, October 7, 2011

It is fair to say that criticism of Obama is for the most part racist.

Uppity n***ers - that is the substance of the right wing's criticism of Obama and Michelle. The criticism isn't about policies or programs - it is about them acting as if white. According to this type of criticism black people don't realize that there is a place for them and that they must stay in their place.

Of course this isn't new. See this 2008 Washington Post article. ""Georgia GOP Congressman Calls Obama 'Uppity.'" See too this faux White House gift shop offering of Uppity Negro gifts.

In the 50s blacks who had the nerve walk down the sidewalk rather than to step aside for the whites were uppity. So too those who earned money and spend it as a white person might were condemned as being uppity - not staying in their place. Heads shook when a black person came by driving a new Cadillac - uppity.

Things haven't changed that much for the right wing extremists. See Laura Ingraham Isn't Sure If Obama Is Black and UPDATE: More Judicial Watch Errors On First Lady's Africa Trip.

Then we have those who want to deny Obama's civil rights pedigree and paint him as an extremist  - see Obama Was Marching With Civil Rights Icon In Selma, Not With New Black Panthers.

Of course president Obama is hit from the other side too - see President Obama: Not black enough?

The president can't win.: