Sunday, September 30, 2012

Russia's anti-secular leaning

Russia's justice system cowling to religions ought to remind us that democracy and religion doesn't mix. The Russian church is the reason that members of Pussy Riot are in jail because of their mocking of the Russian church. [See Christian Science Monitor].

In another story: "A theatre in the south Russian city of Rostov drops a production of Jesus Christ Superstar after protests by Orthodox Christians." [BBC News].

Interesting too is the contrast between Putin's Russia and Lenin's.

"Religion must be declared a private affair. In these words socialists usually express their attitude towards religion. But the meaning of these words should be accurately defined to prevent any misunderstanding. We demand that religion be held a private affair so far as the state is concerned. But by no means can we consider religion a private affair so far as our Party is concerned. Religion must be of no concern to the state, and religious societies must have no connection with governmental authority. Everyone must be absolutely free to profess any religion he pleases, or no religion whatever, i.e., to be an atheist, which every socialist is, as a rule. " [Vladimir Lenin].
Democratic antithesis?

Tony Blair - an after perspective

"Tony Blair could have stopped the Iraq war had he decided to walk away from a partnership with the US, the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan has claimed." [Guardian UK].
And earlier this from Archbishop Tutu: "The veteran peace campaigner said Mr Blair's support for the Iraq war was "morally indefensible" and it would be "inappropriate" for him to appear alongside him." [BBC; see too my earlier post].

Income Inequality - is that the cause of education inequality?

Income inequality is often seen in the media as the root cause of why there is an inequality in education. One such article is found in the NYTimes written by a professor at University of California, School of Business, at Berkeley. [Laura D’Andrea Tyson: Income Inequality and Educational Opportunity].

We are basically talking k-12 education. It is the first floor often dictating one's future prosperity. It cannot be gainsaid that income and education are inextricably linked. Take a Google trip using "income and education." You will find that amount and quality of education is directly linked to everything positive in a person's life. But a child's access to education cannot be determined by his or her family's income.

However, in our society income equality is both a driving and limiting force. Acquisition of a better standard of living is income dependent. And income is directly related to education. Of course there are exceptions - there are always those self-made financial successes that formal education seemed to play little to no role in that success.

There will always be income inequality – at least in any foreseeable future. Contrary to some thinkers it is not likely that there will ever be a society in which goods and services are distributed according to need. Americans above all seem to accept a certain amount of income inequality, but not always accept the manner by which that inequality comes about nor accept the amount of inequality.

But it is an odd conundrum being posited – education inequality derives from income inequality, and income inequality derives from education inequality. It is a downward spiral. Without some societal intervention to provide a level playing field of opportunity – the cycle cannot be broken.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Free speech is what I want to see and hear - not what you want to say

Free speech is a hoot sometimes. When someone or group has the audacity to say something contrary to my thinking - their speech should be banned. After all - it is what I have to say that is important. It is my ideas that are right. The views that aren't mine need not see the light of day especially if the speech contains facts.

That the attitude of such thinkers that protest the pro-Palestinian ads. See the KGW story: Pro-Palestinian ads to appear on TriMet buses stirs controversy. "The provocative ads depict a shrinking Palestinian territory over the years and a growing Israel. Next to a series of maps, the ad reads: "4.7 million Palestinians are classified by the U.N as refugees."

"Provocative?" Nothing like a little bias showing. Also take a peek at the poll KGW includes with the story. Questioning whether TriMet should be the arbiter of free speech - the yes box has this text: "Yes, if the ads are divisive or inapropriate."

KGW in its phrasing of the poll ignores the fact contained in its story that "[i]n 2008, a judge ruled that because TriMet is a government agency, it must accept all advertising, regardless of the content."

Not too surprisingly the poll indicated that 57% would restrict speech if it were divisive or inappropriate. And just what entails "divisive" or "inappropriate" speech? It is easy, if I am an Israeli supporter - it is anything that I dislike.

Political correctness is the antithesis of free speech.

Dogs in coffee houses or the like

Of course it is the Pearl where the residents seem entitled to behave as irresponsibly as they might choose. In this case - despite health regulations to the contrary - someone brought their untrained dog into the coffee shop and it proceeded to shit on the floor. Nothing like copious shit - especially that loose kind that it nearly impossible to clean up. Somehow the muffin I was enjoying wasn't so enjoyable. But the dog owner just had to have a cup of coffee. Pearl - the home of the self-absorbed and hip.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why democracy is failing - lobbyists serving on government boards

The voter has little power. Voting choices are limited - for example in the presidential election if you are a Democrat - you have no choice. There is no other than Obama to vote for. If you are a Republican - you are limited to one choice - Romney.

That choice was determined by a minority (numbers) of Republicans. Frankly, I, a registered Democrat, would like to have a had a chance to select a Republican candidate. There is a certain appeal to moderate conservative Republicans.

But probably the biggest obstacle to democracy is the power exerted by owners of capital and their corporate lapdogs. Citizens United case opened (more like destroyed) the money floodgates. However, it is the influence enjoyed by the lobbyist and their benefits bestowed on the legislators that makes a mockery of democracy.

This article from Reuters was somewhat surprising about the reach of the lobbyists: US judge upholds Obama ban on lobbyists serving on boards. And of course if the money is available every government action is challenged.  The court found that Obama was well within his powers when he banned lobbyists from serving on government boards.

DOJ Report re Portland Police Bureau

The Department of Justice issued a Press Release and 42 page Report on its analysis of Portland Police Bureau's use of excessive force where the recipients were, or perceived to be, suffering from mental illness. The cop-haters that abound in Portland, more than in any other city I have lived in, have taken from the Report only that they perceive justifies their abnormal hate of police officers.

For many - the fact that the Report's 'finger pointing' appeared to be at the bureau rather than police officers didn't deter them from their expected attack on the officers. These individuals, like Steve Duin and David Sarasohn of the Oregonian, see themselves as all-knowing accuser and prosecutor of justice.

Maxine Bernstein, also of the Oregonian (see the pattern?) opines that the DOJ Report was scathing (designed to appease the cop-hater followers; it is nice to have followers even if they are irrational).  Hardly scathing as defined: "Bitterly denunciatory; harshly critical." While she correctly focused on the police bureau (never making the distinction though as made in the DOJ Report that it was the bureau supervisors and policies at fault not the officers), she fails to present the same total  picture found in the DOJ Report.

Old Town car-free streets - not really

KGW's headline Old Town considering car-free streets seemed designed mislead the reader into thinking that it is about another liberal auto-hater proposal to give relief to pedestrians in an area overburden with cars. But it has nothing to do with pedestrians or cars.

This is about the entertainment district portion of Old Town that can't control the drunks and miscreants, pedestrians if you will, that see Old Town as a place where they can feel free to drink, piss on the sidewalks, and engage in fights and other misdemeanor behavior.

The district has been a centerpiece for unpunished disruptive behavior for many years - certainly the last 8 years. The entertainment (love the characterization) district has fueled not only the drunks but also the druggies. Old Town is the open-air drug market in a significant part because of the number of bars.

Worse yet the police find themselves acting only as traffic cops for the pedestrians that their alcohol logged brain can't keep them from meandering into the streets. A cop perimeter set to check for those  not mentally fit to drive would find that there is not enough jail beds to house them all.

And to think this area that the police want to be car-less is the area that the city wanted to run the Burnside Couch couplet. The problems associated with the entertainment district was one of the many reasons I opposed the couplet when I was living in Old Town.

Old Town is not a neighborhood - one suspects that the Old Town leadership has given up on building a community - it is a place where irresponsible people can go and be the assholes they really are without any pretension. And the police apparently see their job as protecting the profits of the alcohol dispensers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Really? "My heart aches’ for struggling Americans"

Apparently trying to offset his true feelings about the 47% that won't vote for him - yet he is doing his best to get them to vote from him. Romney in Ohio: ‘My heart aches’ for struggling Americans.

Labor unrest in China?

As the story about the Foxconn Riot makes the round, the cause is assigned to labor unrest. "Day by day, Chinese workers expect better conditions and greater guarantees that when companies go bust, the employees will not. And, yet, China permits no independent trade unions or free collective bargaining."

In the US it is the independent unions and collective bargaining that has kept labor unrest virtually at bay. Yet  the Republican Party sees unions and collective bargaining as a cancer that stunts the growth of the economy. A worker may not be unionized, but he or she is protected from the employer by the existence of the unions.

Republicans and anti-unionists - be careful what you wish for.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Birds of a feather: Boy Scouts and Catholic Church

The Los Angeles Times has the (ongoing) story on the Boy Scouts that like the Catholic Church, and in at least one instance assisted by a Catholic priest, have acted only to protect themselves and not the children. [Boy Scouts helped child molesters cover their tracks, files show].

It can't be denied that the children have been abused to by the officials of the Scouts and Church. They may not have been the pedophile, but by covering up the sexual abuse they set in motion more abuse. It was a tacit approval of the conduct when, e.g., they permitted child sexual abusers to resign and move on to their next lair. These officials are as responsible as the perpetrator.

They speak of morals and ethics - yet they have none themselves. It shouldn't be necessary that a law be in place to report pedophiles - it is a moral obligation. The pedophiles and their supporters are without honor. Maybe seppuku would be appropriate.

But despite the many revelations about the Scouts and the Catholic Church in the news coverage - the public is apathetic. And too - the editorials expressing outrage are missing. Yet we worry about child labor in China.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ahmadinejad: Israel will be "eliminated." It seems war is the only option?

In New York, defiant Ahmadinejad says Israel will be "eliminated."

Intellectual property - another stripping of worker's opportunity for economic success

Romney's disdain for the working class isn't raising the furor that it should and it is worrisome. The employee's value to society has constantly been eroded by corporate employers. A worker's value for a job well done is his or her paycheck, and if they are lucky, it includes healthcare. And if you have a union - a pension may be included. But it is his or her managers or corporate executives that not only get the credit but also increased monetary value for the workers' work.

A casual read of the news finds examples of this erosion, for example Apple and Samsung patent litigation. Does anyone think that the work that the patents represent came from executives? Your employer owns your intellectual work effort. In general, it can be anything you think of doing the working hours, especially if on the employer's premises.

Now I am talking about those ideas and efforts that go beyond what one is hired to produce. But, in many cases, even those employees are not paid commiserate with their work product. And, in the end, who gets the value and credit?

The slab can't be far behind

How low can expectations get when one is willing - making a choice - to live in such living conditions? These are glorified flop houses. Not much better than sleeping in a camper - if it is any better. [San Francisco experiments with 300-square-foot micro-apartments].

The homeless are given better housing. Just think how many units can be stacked along the light rail tracks.

Instead of a thriving or even a sustaining economy - rather than fixing it - we adjust to the least common denominator. We have spawned a very malleable working class. Working for less and less and seemingly glad to do it.

Just to think that when I was in my twenties I was married with two children, two cars, one new high performance Plymouth convertible, and a 6 year old Cadillac convertible, a dog, and could have easily afforded a new three bedroom house with a real yard. My job - an electronics technician at IBM. No college, only Navy training. And, I could borrow money on my signature alone.

Don't tell me things weren't better in the old days.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It is the American way to back right wing dictatorships

Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region,” he said, by backing dictatorial governments over popular opposition and supporting Israel over the Palestinians." [Egyptian Leader Mohamed Morsi Spells Out Terms for U.S.-Arab Ties]. 

If the US can put its fear of an Egyptian democracy headed by Mr. Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, aside - it has with the new Egyptian president an opportunity not only to advance American interests in the region, but also to force (and that is what it will take) Israel to accept the Palestinians as a neighboring state. 

Our support of the former Egyptian dictator Mubarak, and his predecessor, had not brought about peace in the Middle East. It is time to change gears and support the fledgling Egyptian democracy.

But it would take a major change in the way the US conducts foreign policy. Now that change seems to have been started by Hillary Clinton as secretary of state in the Obama administration. That needs to continue. But, a Romney administration would reverse direction with American interests being determined solely by business interests and that of Israel. 

Can anyone doubt that Romney would have supported Mubarak in the Egyptian Arab Spring?  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

And he almost was

Mauled NY man: I wanted to be one with the tiger.

Head shakers. Why?

Why should the US continue to arm the world? U.S. plans $1.4-billion arms package for Indonesia. Are they, as the story suggests, going to go to war against China? I grant that it will aid their economy, not that they need it, but how does this arm package benefit our economy. Military industrial complex. A great Army general and Republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961,  warned us.

And why did a ban on New Zealand warships happen in the first place, and why did it take so long to make it right? U.S. lifts 26-year old ban on New Zealand warship visits to U.S. bases. See an original Los Angeles Times story of June 28, 1986. U.S. to End Defense of N. Zealand : Premier Refuses Shultz Appeal to Lift Nuclear Ban.

NY Times tells us - "Who Makes It Into the Middle Class"

It sure isn't a worry for the wealthy white male Republican. [Who Makes It Into the Middle Class]. I added the Republican part because it applies to Democrats too - it is just that the Republicans of their leadership see themselves as entitled to their wealth merely because of their birth. To hear them tell it - they are who they are because of their efforts. They didn't have help from anyone nor any government program. And if you are not able to do what they have done then you are lazy and irresponsible.

Never mind that their family's wealth put them in the position of going to the best public schools or private schools. That wealth insured that they were able to go to the best colleges. That wealth insured that they would have jobs without a struggle. That wealth insured that their family would never want.

And who is it that feels entitled?

Oh yes - let's not have Walmart in Portland. Idiots!

Yes you - Steve Novick and the Sam Adams of Portland. Reasoning and doing what is best for the city is not possible with these small minds of liberal persuasion.

Steve Novick Wants Sam Adams' Anti-Walmart Flag.

Portland’s Walmart Future – - Held to answer.

Walmart to hire more than 50,000 for U.S. holiday rush.

Walmart has America's largest solar panel install base.

Solar installations is sign of growing green economy.

"After Chicago success, union leaders spread their message"

That is the headline - but one wonders what is the message? This is what they want you to believe, but  surely they don't believe it: "Union leaders who won gains after striking in Chicago are hitting the road, spreading the message that effective changes in public education can’t be imposed by mayors or governors and must be made in collaboration with communities."

One will be more than hard pressed to read the stories and the tentative contract without concluding that this strike was pure and simple an economic one. There is not one student oriented issue. What gains - other than economic? Irrespective of any spin - there were none. Student scores are to be part of teachers' evaluation. Maybe not as big as factor as the city might have pushed for but still not as the teachers would have preferred - none.

Teachers are directly responsible for the education of students, not the parents, not the school administration,  not the city, not the feds, not the union, etc. It is their sole responsibility that is being shirked by teachers across the country. 

Rather than the teachers and their union representatives working for changes that benefit students - they concern themselves with the dollar that goes into their pockets today and tomorrow. 


And this is Christ's true church? Really.

"The church has never lifted a finger to stop their paedophile priests," added Foster, who said one of her daughters had ultimately taken her own life." [Australian Catholic Church admits child abuse]. The number of child abuse cases in the state of Victoria and admitted by the Catholic Church is 620, but "campaigners say the true figure could be up to 10,000 victims." These cases go back 80 years.

"It estimated that one in 10 Dutch Catholic children suffered some form of abuse since 1945, including rape. That figure doubles to one in five children for those who were in the care of Catholic institutions such as orphanages, boarding schools and seminaries." [Dutch inquiry highlights Catholic child abuse].

One wonders how the Catholic Church explains child abuse by priests to their parishioners, but more likely they don't ask for an explanation? Yet I wonder too how many Catholic parishioners will rail against child labor in China? Why does any clergy - Catholic or otherwise - seem to get a free pass at child abuse?

It is true that criminal statutes place a time restriction on prosecution, but that could be changed by the legislators. That just won't happen - will it.  But it cannot be denied that pedophiles are a cancer on society and they need to be eradicated - humanely of course. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why don't we leave Afghanistan now?

That is a question posed by the Christian Science Monitor. A surge of some 30,000 troops in 2009 was to lead to the end of our engagement in Afghanistan. They are not scheduled to depart until 2014. It is really a question of whether it was worth it. That is, did this surge have its desired effect and was it cost effective? Of course the answer depends on who is answering the question and how one might define 'cost effective.'

The surge had its intended effect,” General Dempsey said. “I think it was an effort that was worth the cost – and don’t forget, it did have its cost.” [Afghanistan: Why don't we leave now?]

The costs:  "One American is killed every day in Afghanistan, on average, this year." [. . . the US treasury spends $60 billion a month on the war. On an annual basis, that’s enough to buy groceries for every American family for more than a year and a half." [Emphasis added.]

Just what 'worth' did we get for our investment of American lives and dollars? Read the Monitor's article - you won't find an answer.

How many jobs could be created with that $60 billion per month? How many people could be brought out of poverty conditions? How many homeless could be fed? Oh - the list goes on - doesn't it?


Romney's no longer secret video - Poetic justice and irony too

If it wasn't for the grandson of President Carter searching the Internet for Republican propaganda there wouldn't have been a secret video. Ah the Internet. What you are looking for is there - but it isn't always easy to find. [Carter grandson arranged Romney video's release].

It is a good read.

Mother Jones: Romney's full video and its full text links

SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters.

Full Transcript of the Mitt Romney Secret Video

Both from Mother Jones. Just in case you don't know about the original Mother Jones - Mary Harris Jones. See too this from Mother Jones the magazine.

The Wikipedia entry is a good read. An excerpt that ought to serve as a reminder why unions came into being:

"In 1903 Jones organized children, who were working in mills and mines at the time, to participate in the "Children's Crusade", a march from Kensington, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Oyster Bay, New York, the home of President Theodore Roosevelt, with banners demanding "We want to go to School and not the mines!" As Mother Jones noted that many of the children at union headquarters had missing fingers and other disabilities, she attempted to get newspaper publicity about the conditions in Pennsylvania regarding child labor."

Labor unrest wasn't always about wages and pensions - it had a social construct.

Who's scared of the dragon? The United States

The Economist's Daily Chart plots the results of 14 country poll asking whether China poses an economic threat or opportunity. The 'we are not afraid of economic competition' United States is apparently very afraid of the Dragon. [Daily chart: Who's scared of the dragon?]

There is nothing right about these circumstances

The Canadian citizen in Afghanistan was captured by the US Army in 2002 when he was 15. Today he is 26. In a 2010 plea bargain he admitted to throwing a hand grenade. He was sentenced to eight years. He was to serve his term in Canada - but they seemed to have dropped the ball. [Gitmo's Youngest Captive Turns 26].
[UpdateYoungest Guantanamo prisoner Khadr returning to Canada. The story also indicates how he came to be in Afghanistan - he was taken there by his father , "a senior al Qaeda member who apprenticed the boy to a group of bombmakers who opened fire when U.S. troops came to their compound. "]

The image is found in a story about a Gitmo prisoner found dead but look at the conditions of their imprisonment, One doesn't have to be a liberal bleeding heart to recognize that this is not justice.

These conditions, I submit, casts doubt on any admission of guilt, especially by plea bargain.

And why are we in Afghanistan? We are there to make them pay for 9-11? We are there to establish democracy where it is a foreign concept to say the least? We are there to assist an elite few to impose their rule on a populace that is poor and uneducated. Democracy imposed, forced is a better term, from above by an elite few rather than being sought by the populace below is not democracy.

Rendition - "what happened was incompatible with democracy.”

The Italians have it right - Rendition Convictions of 23 Americans Upheld in Italy. Apparently Italy's highest court has upheld convictions, in absentia, for the rendition of a Muslim cleric in Milan. But extradition haven't begun, and if they ever do, don't expect extradition.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Russia ends support of democracy aid - what took them so long?

The Russians have told the U.S.A.I.D. agency to pack it up. Now one might wonder why the US spends $50 million (a trifle according to the NY Times) in Russia. Russia seems to be doing fairly well as an economic power. You would think that the cold war was over - but it is just played out on a different field. [Russia Demands U.S. End Support of Democracy Groups -].

The NY Times ignoring the past activities of the agency - it was a front for the CIA - notes that agency supports pro democracy groups. It is "a potentially devastating blow for groups that came to rely on foreign money as domestic controls over politics tightened."

The NY Times doesn't recognize that there is no reason to believe that the agency has ceased it role as a CIA front. Now while we might consider funding democracy as American as apple pie - for the Russians, certainly not the Russia government, apple pie doesn't get it. Neither do "allies like Egypt and Pakistan, which have objected to outside groups telling them how to run their affairs."

The simple fact is that the US is spending money in an effort to undermine the Russian government and install more amenable and malleable leadership. But there may be a back story. Checkout this Brookings opinion - A Bill that Cracks Down on Russian Corruption.

It is the cold war chess game. It seems it will never end until the United States remakes the world in its image.

(Gasp) Jesus' wife - it may be a hoax but it fits reality.

Skepticism abounds as it should. But, the historian who has shined the light on a potential fragment of Christian history is no historian pretender. Karen L. King, a Harvard Divinity School historian, "has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity." [Historian Says Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife].

Not only does this small fragment refer to Jesus' wife but to her as a disciple. A wife and female disciples. How would that sit with the Catholic Church's position on women priests? But can't you just imagine the out of sight intrigue to prevent the authenticity from being established? Such proof would turn the teachings of the Catholic Church and Christianity on its head.

If they could the Vatican would start a Roman Inquisition much like that of Galileo Galilei in 1663. But to the Vatican's credit, a bit late Galileo died in 1642, [i]n 2000, Pope John Paul II issued a formal apology for all the mistakes committed by some Catholics in the last 2,000 years of the Catholic Church's history, including the trial of Galileo among others.[52][53]  [Wikipedia, footnote links in the original.]

I am sure Galileo appreciated the vindication. But the Catholic Church has a hard time eating crow. See this revisionist article from the Catholic Education Resource Center - The dispute between Galileo and the Catholic Church.

While the fragment's authenticity may be proved - it will not gain acceptance from those whose beliefs are not fact based. At least not in some near century.

An aha moment

Tests only identify Zimmerman's DNA on handgun.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I am one of the 47% - are you?

Romney made a statement when he was preaching to the choir "that 47% of Americans "pay no income tax", people who he could "never convince … to take personal responsibility and care for their lives." [Who are Romney's 47% that don't pay tax?].

The full excerpt from a video acquired by Mother Jones:
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax."
Now he didn't mean for it to be made public - it is the kind of honesty that politicians only express when they are among equals and in a setting expected to guarantee that it would not be repeated outside the four walls. It was a private fund raiser where the prospective donors where wealthy, very wealthy. [Who Was at Romney's "47 Percent" Fundraiser?].

Monday, September 17, 2012

Iranian bounty on Salman Rushdie - exhibit #1 in 3rd century thinking

Because of the recent protests on the film clip denigrating Mohamed, Salman Rusdie has resurfaced in the news. His novel Satanic Verses earned him a bounty placed by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. A fatwa was issued calling for his death. This is how the ignorant and feeble minded deal with something they don't like.

Now the bounty has been raised "to $3.3 million from $2.8 million." And how about this for logical and rational thinking.
"In 1998, the Iranian government declared it would not support the fatwa, but at the same time the government said it could not rescind the edict, since under Islamic law, that could be done only by the person who issued it. Khomeini died in June 1989."
The rationale for the increased bounty is that if it had been carried out the film clip and other 'blasphemous' events would not have occurred. One wonders why a bounty hasn't been placed on the film clip producer? Most likely it is recognized that he, or them, has not been accorded any credibility as has Mr. Rushdie.

It brings back too the 'death to Israel and "down with the US' chants. These have become so rote that all meaning has been lost. But what we have is the all too expected attempt to shift the fault of the country's ills to Israel and the US.

Salman Rushdie, in a NPR story,  has the correct assessment on recent events as quoted from an interview on Morning Edition.
"It is the "mindset of the fanatic, mindset of the tyrant" to respond to an insult to one's religion with violence." "To murder people who had nothing to do with it," he added, is a "deeply uncivilized attitude."
"Something has gone wrong inside the Muslim world," Rushdie continued. Just a few decades ago, he said, major cities in the Arab and Muslim world were outward-looking. But "in the last half century, these cultures seem to have slid backwards into medievalism and represssion. ... It is one of the great self-inflicted wounds."

Film protests resulting in deaths and injuries have no excuse nor can fault be shifted to the US

The feeble minded are searching for a rationale to explain the violence allegedly in response to the film clip made by those that being called feeble minded would be praise. We are led, not maliciously though, to believe that these people of violence were upset by the clip's denigration of Mohamed. I wonder.

For the moment I am leaving Libya out of the consideration. While there seems to be some differences between a Libya official and the US ambassador as to the cause of  the violence leading to the death of the US ambassador - I side with Libya in that it was a strategic attack under the guise of protest. Libya too appears to be the only Muslim country to react appropriately.

A New York Times piece seems to suggest that culture clash might be at the root of the protests. Cultural Clash Fuels Muslims Raging at Film. Really? What cultures are clashing? A look at the mob participants does not find religious leaders, community leaders or those whose time is focused is on the welfare of their families.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blind man with his dog well into the crosswalk almost run over by biker

It was a Pearl event, but likely to occur anywhere where there are bicyclists, especially if the street is a bike thoroughfare.

Chicago teachers strike - teachers not students benefit

The strike was about teachers - not students. It wasn't about education - it was bread and butter issues that carried the day. The strike appears over with little said about teacher evaluations. See this article Chicago Teachers Union meets on contract today for a breakdown.

Teachers - right or wrong - supporters like the Washington Post's Answer Sheet did its best to hype teacher evaluation as the basis for the strike. Just so much BS. The Answer Sheet was hoping so much that the Chicago strike would be the catalyst for other teacher strikes to eliminate any meaningful education reform that might include teacher evaluations.

The Promise kept

It is a great story about a city - Kalamazoo, Michigan - that promised "to pay the tuition at Michigan’s public colleges, universities and community colleges for every student who graduated from the district’s high schools." It is a 6 pager from the New York Times and well worth the read. [Kalamazoo, Mich., the City That Pays for College].

Kalamazoo is not some wealthy white community, but can be described as racially diverse and low income. The money doesn't come from the city, state or federal government - it comes from private unnamed donors. But they have the correct attitude and will to put education first.

Other communities invest in things like arenas or offer tax incentives for businesses or revitalize their waterfronts,” says Michelle Miller-Adams, a political scientist at the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, which is located in the city. “The Kalamazoo Promise tries to develop the local economy with a long-term investment in human capital that is intended to change the town from the bottom up.

My, my, my.

Eve of destruction

It was interesting listening to Barry McGuire singing that protest song of the Vietnam War era. Not much has changed. Except that he allegedly refuses to perform the original version.

Israel PM - apparently hasn't pulled his head out to look at the world

Apparently the Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu is upset because the US isn't following his lead to war with Iran. One might reasonably argue that the world is in the mess it is in because of Israel's intransigence in dealing with he Palestinians. [ Israel PM demands US set 'red line' over Iran nuclear programme ].

The prime minister and his Likud party are designated as conservative, but in American politics they would be right wing. War is just fine with them, especially when someone else is the puppet. Since 1948 the Israelis have, based upon religious beliefs, steadfastly refused to settle with the Palestinians. Co-existence based on equality is not possible with Israel.

If one followed the Israelis logic - the US would be preemptively striking most every country that has nuclear weapons or about to get them. Why not strike North Korea ? In providing nuclear technology to Iran, are they not more dangerous to the world than Iran? Of course North Korea is merely communist, not Muslim. And North Korea is not alone in providing nuclear technology to Iran.

Google will not pull the video - why not?

The world arbiter. Its rationale for not taking down the video - "Google said it had already determined that the video did not violate its terms of service regarding hate speech. In this case, the video stays up because it is against the Islam religion but not Muslim people." But, "it had blocked access to the video in India and Indonesia because it violated local laws." [Google Won’t Rethink Anti-Islam Video’s Status].

Apparently Google can draw the line between Muslims and Islam. One might argue as apparently many Muslims do - there is no line of distinction. And is it really a matter of 'law' in India and Indonesia? Is this really about religion or isn't it really about terrorism?

Doesn't Google bear some responsibility for the US asking its citizens to depart Sudan and Tunisia? No responsibility at all for any of the many protests in the Middle East and beyond? See the Google (irony) map in the article.

"Google said its decisions were consistent with a 2007 policy for controversial content in which the company would take into account not just laws and its own policies, but cultural norms."

Apparently, it doesn't serve Google's economic interests to take steps, however minimal, to protect American lives and well being.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rieke Elementary - first Green Flag School in Oregon

Its a fluff piece apparently written by one whose interest is he wonders of being green. You know it is fluff because it is "Special to The Oregonian." Now it is a nice story, but the school is much more than what is being touted. Whether the school has a green flag is irrelevant - but maybe a cherry on the top.

This is one of the few Portland Public Schools that has bragging rights about the right issues -education. Take a peek at the Oregonian database for the test scores and the like.

Better yet take look at the Great Schools assessment. "Portland's Rieke Elementary School serves grades K-5 in the Portland Public Schools district. It is among the few public elementary schools in Oregon to receive a distinguished Great Schools Rating of 8 out of 10."

Check out these parent reviews (a couple of excerpts) - telling.

"The Principal Andrea Porter is a good leader, approachable, and has been on the ball. The teachers are also wonderful! There are many student teachers who rotate into the school year, so though the class size can be high (around 26-30), often there is the established teacher, and a student teacher present, so the kids benefit. The English and math taught is really wonderful, above grade. Though, this may be a negative, the kids do have a lot of homework. The parent support is fabulous. What this means is that a lot of money is brought into the school from the community, they have an extra teacher who "floats" into the classes to support core subjects like Math and English. There is lots of parent support at school trips etc. Rieke is a hidden gem, not too many folks know about it in general, though every year the class size seems to be getting bigger. Again, for a public school, with the resources they currently have, they are thriving!
--Submitted by a parent"

"The high level of parent support and volunteering.--Submitted by a parent"

"High expectations for students and highly educated staff.--Submitted by a parent"

Teachers and students. While you are at it - notice that the students per full time teacher ratio - 22:1. It is one of the whiter schools - 87%. Only 11% eligible for free or  reduced-price lunch. The total per student state expenditures is higher than the state average, but the percentage of expenditures is about the same as the state average. The pay is better?

There is a knee-jerk analysis that the school does well because it is in a sense wealthier. And it may well be - but that alone doesn't account for the school's success. That success is found in the parents' comments, e.g., high expectations for students, parent support and volunteering. It is what you find in private schools.

It isn't the income level of the student's family - it is what the families expect from their children and the school, and what the school expects from the parents and students. High expectations breeds results.

'Knee-jerk' message - maybe not

According to the Oregonian the officer was annoyed by the Department of Justice's finding on Portland police officers handling of individuals with mental illness. So "he typed back something like, 'This is the same DOJ or people who created Waco and Ruby Ridge.'"  

Maybe he has a point. "Quite frankly, we're being judged by people who don't have much law enforcement experience." 

Of course he found himself apologizing because police officers are not entitled to free speech protections that the rest of us enjoy. We can criticize the police officers with the most vile terms, but their mouths are zipped shut.

Frankly, it seemed odd too that the police officers learned of the outcome via the media.

Map of protests and embassy attacks across Muslim world

It is a large number of protests spread across the Middle East and beyond. [Demonstrations continue over anti-Islam video]. While it is not too difficult to understand that the US government is not popular in certain areas of the globe - these protests are a little mind boggling.

The US government didn't make the film clip at issue. Unlike some of the countries where these protests are occurring - the US government is restricted in the abridgment of certain inalienable rights. Although, it seems unlikely that the film clip is protected speech.

But, these are not all traditional Muslim countries where the protests are occurring. It can be expected, maybe even justifiably, from Yemen, but "500 protesters gathered outside the US consulate on Saturday in the Australian city of Sydney, hurling bottles and shoes?"

Arguably protesters in places like Australia are aligning themselves with those responsible (or in agreement with) for 9-11. Australia has a democratically elected government and its population consists of relatively few Muslims. [CIA Factbook]. Surely they recognize that the US government was in no way responsible for the film clip; and that government action in the realm of citizen speech is not unfettered. And even if the government could have legally blocked it - by the time it did the damage would have been done.

One wonders what would happen if we picked up our marbles and went home. Many of these countries couldn't survive without US aid. It is doubtful that countries like China and Russia could pick up the tab. Of course there are many good reasons why a fall back plan would be folly.

However, it is interesting though that no one is attacking Google for its refusal to take down the film clip. Yes, it has blocked it in Egypt and Libya - but a little bit late. It is still available to incite violence elsewhere. Google is a private company, i.e., not a government, that could easily have blocked that 'free speech' clip. I wonder what motivated Google?

The US - the country that everyone loves to hate, but still hold their hands out for the dollars and other assistance.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It is merely a starting point

Oregon's good doctor like every politician - so it seems - talks only about raising revenue not lowering expenditures. The Oregonian's editorial board seems to approve. The sales tax is likely the next method for Oregon to find revenue to keep up with the state's spending. There is never enough money - whether Republican or Democrat - for all the pet projects to build their legacy.

It may start out at 5% raising a $3 Cappuccino to $3.15. Yes a $3.00 Cappuccino in the Pearl. But first it will be the state then the counties and then the cities that will affix their sales tax. In California that $3 Cappuccino would cost $3.23 if it were only the state's 7.75% tax. But drinking that coffee in Berkeley will cost me $3.26. And in Walnut Creek, in the neighboring county, the same coffee will cost me $3.25.

Now the tax is the consumer's burden but the state puts the collection burden on the retail merchant. And coming this Saturday Amazon no longer be sales tax free in California. There is no escape from the tax collectors.

No longer will the price tag reflect the product's cost. The price increase will have no bearing on the quality of the product. It is another (mandatory) jar for your spare change. It is money being handed over to the government with no restrictions or incentives to cut costs.

Despite, as in California, that some of the sales tax revenue would likely come back to Oregon's counties and cites, nothing good can come from a sales tax. Another bureaucracy, more unfettered government spending, and another cost of government to be borne by those who can least afford it.

Think long and hard before you support a sales tax, especially since it will not displace other taxes.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I wish I would have said that

"The streetcar is an amusement park ride, and the antithesis of efficiency and mobility for the poor slobs in Portland who actually need the trains to run on time." And here is another gem: "The streetcar, everyone knows, is a real-estate development tool, not a transit option." [ Steve Duin: Closing the loop on the Portland Streetcar].

Mr. Duin took the pre-opening Eastside Streetcar ride that apparently wasn't very impressive. I live on the Streetcar line in the Pearl and one of its stop is nearly in front of one those apartments and a relatively high end restaurant that allegedly 'proves' the value of the Streetcar. It doesn't. 

Wednesday a great day for Portland?

That is what the Oregonian would have you believe. The Oregonian lost its journalism credentials some time ago and this editorial only demonstrates that further. The issue is fluoridation of the drinking water. The city council voted 5-0 in favor, but what is telling is Commissioner Fritz's view. "Commissioner Amanda Fritz, [. . .] criticized the council’s hasty process, though she supported the final outcome." She should have voted no on principal alone.

The democratic process was trampled on. Not only was it hastily pushed through it was done without consultation of the nearby communities that also use the water. Interesting that it was done at the end of the Sam-Rand twins (an appropriate pairing thanks to Jack Bog's Blog) time on the council.

Interesting view of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre

According to Helmut Schmidt, ex-chancellor of Germany, "the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Casualty estimates were 'wildly exaggerated' and the Chinese army was defending itself." [Helmut Schmidt defends Tiananmen massacre; see Tiananmen Square protests of 1989].

I am not sure why some 23 years later the ex-chancellor of Germany decided to put the record straight, but maybe it is age, he is 93. There does come an age when people determine to break the silence that should not have been.

Mr. Schmidt, if you read his Wikipedia entry, is no ordinary politician. He led his country through some very perilous times. His comments published in The Local are brief but interesting. I especially like this: "Chinese politics could not be measured by European standards." And I would add 'nor by American standards.'

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Unoticed and unappreciated

The work of the secretary of state and the diplomats fit the bill. This includes of course their staff. These citizens act not as Republicans or Democrats, but as non-partisan representatives of the United States They serve this country well without the notoriety gained by self-aggrandizing politicians. Romney comes to mind.

As today's death of the Ambassador to Libya demonstrates - it is a very dangerous job especially in the aftermath of 9-11. The circumstances of his death and the three others diplomats with him are still unclear. The best publication that I have read comes from Reuters followed by one from the New York Times

It is a twisted irony that only religion can deliver. We hold the freedom of speech so dear that to promote and protect it we allow the most invidious and vicious speech. But as a result this 'speech' incited the savage religious zealots in Benghazi, Libya and Cairo, Egypt to attack American embassies. Not unexpectedly, one of the promoters is Terry Jones the Florida 'pastor' [New York Times].

September 11, 212 dedicated public servants were murdered. But, not enough rage has been expressed as to the actions of the producers of the movie. Instead it has become a political issue for Romney. Tomorrow the media will have forgotten. Where are we going?

[Editor: I made some changes pertaining to Terry Jones' participation. I highly recommend this Economist story Murder in Libya.]

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

German political party founder "clearly got tangled up in his own thinking,"

"Falkvinge [credited as founder of Pirates Party] wrote a polemic in his personal blog at the weekend outlining "three reasons why the ownership of child pornography must be legalized in the coming decade." [German Pirates reject founder's child porn call ]. To keep things in perspective, it must be noted though that he is a Swede.

His rationale? He "argued that the ban on owning images of children being raped was 'an open wound in the tradition of the enlightenment and the freedom of information.'" And, "[h]e said that as long as this ban remained in place, there would always be bans on other kinds of information."

What was he thinking? It isn't as sinister as it first appears, arguably he got tangled up in the philosophical process. However, there are certain items that don't belong in the philosophical, or not, conversations on freedom of the Internet - child porn is one.

It is suggested that one read the article and the Pirate Party Germany. This is social-liberal party that has its "focus on freedom in the net and [...] fight against government regulations of this sphere. " Not unexpectedly, the party attracts the attention of a young age group. It is a party that seems to gaining significant, even minor in number, presence in the European political community.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Multnomah County to examine health hazards from coal dust and diesel

One has to wonder why it is that the county has determined that it needs "to review potential health hazards from coal trains that may run through the county en route to new Northwest export terminals." [Coal clash: Multnomah County to examine health hazards from coal dust and diesel].

It will be interesting just what the review will entail. Look - both the coal and disesel issues have been studied and studied - for years. A quick Google or Bing check will provide the researcher with a wealth of material. It would seem - a little to my surprise - that there is little opposition to harmful effects of either.

See this from BSNF: Coal Dust Frequently Asked Questions. It is a self interest assessment, but one can easily surmise that the real issue is not the elimination of either coal or the train carrying the coal - it will be in making the transportation of coal as safe and harmless as possible.

And see this from EPA: EPA Cuts Diesel Locomotive and Vessel Pollution. The point being that diesel locomotive pollution is not a new subject nor has it been ignored by the government.

If the county wants to join in the opposition - just say so. There seems little need for a separate review or the costs needed for it.

9/11 - 11 years later - who would have thunk?

Anniversary of 9/11 marked under cloud of health problems, funding fights.

Alcohol, drugs common in fatal crashes: study

"More than half of fatally injured drivers in the United States had been using alcohol or other drugs and approximately 20 per cent had been using (two or more) drugs," wrote Joanne Brady of Columbia University and her colleagues." [Alcohol, drugs common in fatal crashes: study].

But there is no cause and effect connection. E.g., "[T]he records couldn't show whether drivers had enough of a certain drug in their system to feel or act impaired or if prescription drugs were used incorrectly, experts said."

Intuitively though - isn't there a connection?

Nobody should be treated this way - especially those never convicted of anything

The story is about a Guantanamo prisoner found dead
but the image is the real story.

Powell Street parklet gets international award

Not Powell Street in Portland. It's a story about San Francisco winning awards. The one I found interesting had to do with their website similar in concept to Portland's map site, but with a neater integration of the city map with information. But I do believe Portland's site is better overall. 

"The map, which was a winner in the Local Government Agencies category, is a lot of fun. Located on the department’s home page, you can enter the address of any piece of property in San Francisco and instantly get a locator map, assessed value, size of the property and year of construction, not to mention the neighborhood it’s in, the local supervisor and the police district." [Powell Street parklet gets international award]. 

Animals (the other animals) as CO2 regulators

"Right now, all the climate change models and proposed methods of sequestering carbon ignore animals. But animals the world over, working in different ways to influence the carbon cycle, might actually have a large impact," UC Santa Cruz professor Chris Wilmers." [Sea otters: Surprising global warming warriors have effect on CO2 levels]. 

The story is about how sea otters are protecting the carbon dioxide absorbing kelp forests from sea urchins resulting in a significant reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere. "[K]elp forests can absorb 12 times more carbon dioxide with otters around than if the plant were subject to sea urchins." [Supra].

It seems that everyone is doing their part except those animals called human. Rather than any balancing action - humans are not only relentlessly producing CO2 by using up non-renewable resources, but also they are destroying earth's natural CO2 absorption, e.g., deforestation. 

Where will it end? An interesting insight can be found with the interactive: The World Without Us.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Global Christianity - up in developing countries, down in developed countries.

"God is having a strong millennium" seems to be the author's desired take away. [In the developing world, religious belief is on the rise]. It is a glass half-full (versus half-empty) view based upon the Pew Research study - "Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population."

"The number of Christians around the world has more than tripled in the last 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010. But the world's overall population also has risen rapidly, from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion in 2010. As a result, Christians make up about the same portion of the world's population today (32%) as they did a century ago (35%)."

Saturday, September 8, 2012

2012 Blue Ribbon Schools - where is Oregon?

No where to be found. One has to go back to 2005 where the Portland Jewish Academy was a recipient. See the 2012 Blue Ribbon Schools | U.S. Department of Education for present recipients. See the FAQs for eligibility, etc.

A future news item? Clashes Over Land and Water Leave 12 Dead

It is happening in Kenya (you know where president Obama was born), but considering global warming fears maybe it is prescient event. [Kenya - Clashes Over Land and Water Leave 12 Dead].

It is about time

"It was the first time a Catholic bishop in the United States had been held accountable in criminal court in the nearly three decades since the priest sexual abuse scandals first came to light." [In Pedophile Case, Church Failed to Stop Priest]. The Bishop had covered up the transgressions of a pedophile priest under his supervision. The pedophile priest tried to commit suicide. He awaiting sentencing.

For the Catholics -  did the good pedophile priest go to confession? Did either the pedophile priest or the cover up bishop believe in hell, or heaven for that matter? If there is a god - is pedophilia okay?

Bishop Finn was sentenced to two years of court-supervised probation.

It is a survival game that is too often lost by the good guys

It is a California story but the risk is nationwide - routine traffic stop results in an officer's death. [CHP officer slaying highlights routine risk facing road patrol] .

"Amid the chaos of highway traffic, they approach a stopped vehicle. They watch for the driver's hands, try to make eye contact, look for anything amiss. They must then reach a crucial judgment: Is there a threat here?"

For the police officer - a mistake, maybe because of the routine nature of traffic stops, may be fatal. In this case the risk was unlikely to be perceived. The officer who was shot had been stopped to tend to a dead deer. The car that stopped just behind his cruiser had been pulled over by another officer. Apparently without a motive, the driver shot and killed the previously stopped officer after he had approached and had a brief conversation. The driver was killed by the other officer.

There is no routine traffic stop - not for the police officer. It is a dangerous and unappreciated job.

How Pot Helps Parenting - Oh please.

"Even though I was only 44, I’d been suffering from occasional back pain. I also suffered bouts of stress, compounded by anxiety." Poor baby - life is just too hard for him. Not surprisingly - it a San Francisco article, could have been one from Portland. He seems to believe that his possession of a medical cannabis makes him entitled for our empathy.

And this from the New York Times.

Innocent? Never in backward Pakistan

The Pakistan blasphemy charges against a 14 year old Christian [ah religion] girl has demonstrated  just how far back in time countries like Pakistan remain. From the news stories it is clear that she was set up by a Muslim cleric, but even though innocent the mere fact that she was charged leaves her guilty.

"The lawyer prosecuting her suggested she could be lynched if found not guilty. Blasphemy charges are frequently followed by deadly riots against minority communities."  [Pakistan blasphemy girl in dramatic prison release by helicopter]. Thus she had to be airlifted out of the prison yard to an undisclosed location to prevent her death. 

Religion and democracy are antithetical.

He didn't want to be a snitch

Who would have thought that some 17 years later the O.J. Simpson trial would still be tried. The prosecutors failed in their job, and now one of the prosecutors Christopher Darden "[h]aving made the greatest legal blunder of the 20th Century," Dershowitz said of Darden, "he's trying to blame it on the dead man."

Dershowitz was one of the defenses attorneys and it was Johnnie Cochran, now deceased, that was being blamed. The blunder was that the glove that O.J. Simpson was alleged to have worn in the commission of the crime didn't fit him; and it wasn't discovered until at trial before the jury when the prosecution had Simpson try on the glove. This led to the famous Johnnie Cochran quote "if it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Only 8 years?

"A man who worked at a Richland day care was sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for raping a 2-year-old boy." [KGW].

Fritz vs Nolan

"General Election Candidates for Portland City Council Position #1" has the responses to several questions relevant to the upcoming election. Commissioner Fritz, it is her job at issue, answered much more completely than Mary Nolan. It would seem from Nolan's answers she doesn't read questions well.

These are decent questions - ones of interest to Portlanders. Take a peek at the questions and answers.

[via Value of Jobs - Candidate Questionnaires - General Election City Council Position #1; Jack Bog's Blog].

A positive and even presidential perspective of George Bush just after 9/11

"The other anniversary [after 9/11] is of the visit President George W. Bush made to a Washington mosque just six days after the attack, where he spoke eloquently against the harassment of Arabs and Muslims living in the United States and about the need to respect Islam." [via On Religion - Six Days After 9/11, Another Anniversary Worth Honoring].

Pearl: Dog feces and urine

At least that is an accurate image in the residential, north end, part of Pearl. In the short time I have lived there the dog population has substantially increased. One only has to take a walk. Even if the dogs themselves were invisible, their presence is well noticed by the 'marks' left.

To the owners and walkers credit - the poop is pickup. There are those that don't pick up after the dog even though the city makes it so easy to have a plastic bag handy. But dog poop almost immediately marks the pavement. And it is always the sidewalk. If the dogs were actually curbed - the sidewalks would be unmarked.

And the urine too marks the sidewalks and tends to destroy plant life. It is not so much the individual action - it is the continual marking. Dogs like to go in the same place. And of course, mostly due to owner's laziness, when the dogs get access to the outside there is an immediate need to urinate. Not surprisingly, the frequent places of urination is within a very short distance of the front door.

Walk anywhere one will see the plant destruction from dog urine. Building owners and managers have tried to have nice pleasant sidewalk planters - the ones embedded in the sidewalks. But dog owners believe that they are special places for their dogs to pee and shit.

Even when the planters are raised - dogs are encouraged to go there. Some of the planters for a time were 'fenced' off with plastic ribbons and some even had little signs indicating the purpose of the fencing. But for the most part these efforts are ignored by the selfish dog owners and walkers.

Dogs are walked on the sidewalk that together with the walkers take up the full sidewalk forcing one either to the extreme side of the pavement or to a complete stop. After all - it is their sidewalk.

The stains and plant damage are considerable. Dog owners blight the neighborhood. I suspect most of these are people who are renting in the Pearl - not condo owners. The north end of Pearl started out as mostly inhabited by condo owners, not renters. But with the downturn of the economy, condos have been transformed to apartments.

Interesting is that dogs will go where they are trained to go. The blight is not the dogs's fault.

The circus that passed as a trial

Drew Peterson may well be guilty of killing his third wife, but conviction on the basis of hearsay evidence should not pass Supreme Court muster.  [Jury convicts Drew Peterson of 3rd wife's death]. The trial attracted national attention, and the conduct of the defendant and his attorneys helped to fan what can only be described as hate for the defendant. Mr. Peterson can easily be described as a cocky little bastard that everyone loves to hate.

But to convict him the state of Illinois had to pass an exception to the hearsay law.
"The trial was the first of its kind in Illinois history, with prosecutors building their case largely on hearsay thanks to a new law, dubbed "Drew's Law," tailored to Peterson's case. That hearsay, prosecutors had said, would let his third and fourth wives "speak from their graves" through family and friends to convict Peterson."
Hearsay rule is a rule of evidence in criminal law, and it is pretty much the same throughout the nation. If it is ruled hearsay - then it is inadmissible at trial. But there are many exceptions to the rule that have been codified over many years.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ignorance, violence, repression, discrimination - at the root is religion.

It is a story about denial of education to females. "Death threats, acid attacks and bombings by Taliban militants and other extremists lead many parents who support female education to keep their daughters at home." [For Afghan Girl, Going To School Is Act Of Bravery].

Afghanistan is only an example - but other countries in that general area are little different. Society's ills especially in undeveloped countries can be traced to religion as a status quo restraint on development and modernization. It is not that religion is inherently repressive, but it becomes that and more when religion is used as the excuse and religious leaders remain silent.

But, surely it must be recognized that women are not equal before the god of either the Muslims or Catholics. Women's struggle for equality and independence is one against an established power structure.

Religion is a corrupt power and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  [A variation on Lord Acton's quote.]

New school building to boost school achievement?

Ordinarily - it would seem like a ridiculous concept. But when buildings get to this point - it is a no-brainer.
"Bathrooms lacked sinks and privacy; stairwells were missing safety rails; and the 100-year-old building was so overcapacity that students had to go to a trailer in the parking lot for detention. The floors sagged so much that floor tiles popped off. Students describe peeling paint and rats in the classrooms." [Can A New Building Save A Failing School?].

Tit for tat: Iran's navy to place warships off US coast

"The US Navy's 5th fleet is based in Bahrain — across the gulf from Iran . . . ." [Iran's navy to place warships off US coast 'in the next few years'].

While one may wonder whether Iran could logistically carry that off - it is not a mere sailing a ship off the US coast - it is not too difficult to see their point. Your warships are off our coast - we will put our warships off yours.

Amanda Fritz desperately seeks a hook for votes

Of course it is election time. Amanda Fritz pushes plastic reservoir covers as 'fiscally responsible leadership.' Much like the tree leaves changing colors to announce a change in seasons - politicians, the ultimate chameleons, change their colors to announce their worth.

I would agree that Commissioner Fritz is a better choice than her competition - but . . . .  Arguably she has drank the political Kool-aid and has joined the dark side. No longer is she an outsider fighting the inside political hacks, she is an inside political hack fighting to stay inside with a self-determined goal that only she can solve Portland's problems. 

And what significant issue she wants to solve? Covering the reservoir. I wonder where on the list of Portland's issues that might lie?

State education budgets should be sacrosanct

The concept that the state's education budget should share cuts, proportional or not, with other departments in this, or any, economy results from a 'head up your ass' thinking. It is the only reason, irrational to say the least, that can account for Oregon's cuts of $145 per student. [26 States Cut Their Education Budgets For This School Year (via Jack Bog's Blog)].

Oregon is one of many states cutting back. How stupid! It can't be said any other way. Look at the chart contained in the story. May states have the right idea - increase the spending. Does anyone really believe that education budgets contain fat? One might argue that administration costs are bloated, but instituting budget cuts that results in increased class size and decreased number of teachers is irrational.

One might read the Oregonian's story on Oregon schools chief Rob Saxton's long back-to-school to-do list. Sounds like another bureaucratic solution - hire more administrators, apparently at the cost to the students' education. Why is it that these educational leaders always believe in the top down approach? 

If there is any budget that should be protected against all assaults, it is education. The damage done to the already damaged system and its students is not reparable in the short term. Meanwhile, waiting for the economy to improve, the education and employment of thousands and thousands of K through 12 students suffer. Their future, and the state's, is impaired not just this year but many years to come.

And worse yet, these cuts feeds the downturn of the economy and contributes to its downward spiral.

Oregon too often fails its citizens, but this failure cannot be tolerated.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

400 trees to be chopped for space shuttle parade - really!

How absurd to cut down 400 trees in order to parade the space shuttle. What kind of thinking is going on here? It is clear that Los Angeles doesn't have a clue of the value of trees to our existence. And this action from a city that is a smog producer. [Tree removal for space shuttle arrival tempers excitement].

Burglary on the rise in Portland

In reading a recent police department news release on the arrest of three in the Southeast for residential burglary it seemed that burglary was the often subject of press releases. In the latest stats, almost a month old, we see that citywide residential burglary has increased from 1,539 last year to 1,854 this year. And non-residential burglary has increased from 860 last year to 960 this year. Larceny too has seen substantial increases.

At the end of the year, I suspect we will not be reading about the low crime rates that the city had been claiming the credit.

Why is this important or even relevant?

Paul Haggis Supports Vanity Fair Story on Tom Cruise Girlfriend Audition

Silly question of the day: Are Americans better off than they were four years ago?

Presidential elections do more harm than good. The money wasted on ads could be so better placed to create jobs and prosperity for all, but it becomes a period of demonstrating that educational system fails not only in reading, writing and arithmetic but also civics.

The media is asking questions that border on silliness. And they wonder why the candidates haven't addressed issues concerning the continued existence of the planet, at least as it is today. No - they ask questions like are Americans better off. It is a question that is meaningless because it assumes that the president, any president, can alone make the difference in four years. 

Thus, if you don't feel better off (whatever that means) then the president is at fault. This isn't a pro-Obama piece - it is about realities of the structure of the American government. Take a look at Executive powers and Congressional powers.

The president in fact has little power without bipartisan support or a decided party majority in the house and senate. But those days are gone and what is left is one political party determined to best the other political party irrespective of the damage done to the American society or the means used.

This can be best seen in Senate Minority Leader McConnell's position:
"I'm thinking, we are in the midst of one of our worst recessions ever, and his [McConnell] goal is not to balance the budget, create more jobs.... but to make sure Obama doesn't get re-elected.... To me, that is the worst comment any Politician can make, I understand not wanting him to be re-elected, but as your #1 goal.... I have heard a number of guys on the Right make the same comments..." [Chris Wallace interview of McConnell].
The American public is not only not better off than four years ago - it is not better off going back many terms of presidents. I argue that the country reached its zenith in the 60s and has been downward ever since. It can be reasonably argued too that American global aggression that began with the Spanish-American War has continued unabated to the detriment of American society.

I will grant that WWII was a necessary war, but it had only fueled aggressive world posture exhibited in the Korean, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and now possibly Iran wars. What value have we obtained by these wars? Are we - nationally or globally - better off?

The two party de facto system has not served America well. There is nothing in the constitution that demands a two party political structure. Continuing to re-elect the same politician, continually spawned by American two-party politics, will continue to leave the general populace in a prosperity void. 

The milk fat myth on its way of being busted - so too organic foods

We've been taught to reach for the skim, but should we really be passing the butter?

Study: Organic foods offer little nutritional advantage. And Organic food: no better for you, or the planet.

If it is nutrition you want - why not Edible insects

Isn't it more about quantity consumed than quality? Eating a hamburger, even a McDonald's, washed down with a glass of cream laded milk of the 50s is not harmful - but it might be if that was a daily regime. Big emphasis on 'might.' It is, or should be, about personal choices fueled with consumer information.

Don't try to make your choices my choices.