Saturday, October 27, 2012

Berkeley proposes sidewalk sitting ban

More than 20 years too late. The New York Times article implies that the focus of the ban is on the homeless, however, it is using homeless in its broadest definition. It is a too easy characterization by the news media and citizens. The sidewalk sitters that one sees in downtown areas of Berkeley and Portland are for the most part not homeless by choice - they are there to tweak your noses.

Berkeley was the first to have these individuals lying about on the sidewalk with their dogs and personal effects scattered about. Then, as today, these wasted humans gave no concern about the difficulty that others had in getting by them. Ironically many of them 20 years ago were spoiled children of the wealthy who always knew that daddy and mummy would come when beckoned.

Aggressive panhandling is another key factor for sorting out the truly unclean. Here again Berkeley led the way (followed closely by Portland). Panhandlers were not content to stand on the sidewalk with their hands outstretched - they would come into the coffee shops and go table to table demanding money. Business people became the police.

To characterize these sidewalk sitters and panhandlers as homeless disparages the efforts of those who are in fact homeless and without a job because of circumstances, not choice, to regain their lives and dignity. If one were to offer a job to these sitters and aggressive panhndlers  - it is unlikely that there would be any takers.

But I find it interesting that Berkeley now wants to do something about these sidewalk sitters, and feel compelled to put it to a vote. I lived in Berkeley for a long time and the businesses and nearby residents long complained to the city about these sitters, especially along Telegraph Avenue.

In those days, it was the city's refusal to address the issue - liberal politics getting in the way of common sense - that led to the closing of the famous Cody's bookstore. But that was a time too when the Berkeley police had to put the arrested in the front seat - apparently placing them in the back seat was counter to 'innocent until proven guilty.'

Cities like Berkeley and Portland too often fail to recognize that there are people that are just the shits. They have no value to society, much less to themselves, and they couldn't care less. Granted it is difficult to distinguish the good from the bad - but that doesn't mean the effort shouldn't be made.

The true homeless - by circumstances not choice - need our help, it is an obligation. I submit that the sidewalk sitters and aggressive panhandlers are not worthy of our concern. Refusing to 'donate' to them is a civic duty.

Those in need are being served by the many charitable agencies extant especially in cities like Berkeley and Portland. It is those agencies that deserve our money, and it is in their hands that our money should go.

And one wonders why they hate the US?

"Pakistani politician Imran Kahn, a former cricket star and critic of U.S. drone strikes, was briefly delayed and questioned by U.S. immigration officials in Toronto before being allowed to board a flight to New York." [U.S. officials pull Pakistani politician off plane].

Kahn: "I was taken off from plane and interrogated by U.S. Immigration in Canada on my views on drones. My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop."

Kahn is outspoken in his opposition to the drone strikes and recently led a "march to northern Pakistan to protest the drone strikes, which have killed between 2,600 and 3,400 Pakistanis, according to the independent London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism."

The US position: "The United States says the strikes have killed top Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders and that civilian casualties are minimal. "

Minimal as in collateral damage?

Who will save us from America's (political leadership) war on every country that disagrees with them? Of course we wage our wars on those incapable or otherwise unable to fight back. Arguably the baby boomers' progeny, Generation X and Millennials,  didn't learn about the fallacies of war. They seem quite content to ignore it.

The peace sign - an iconic bit of trivia.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"'God Intended' Pregnancies From Rape"

That from a Republican candidate for the US Senate. It was spoken at a debate where abortion was raised. There are at least three things wrong.

- That he believes men are the arbitrator of women's bodies. He believes he has, or should have,  the power to determine if and when woman can have an abortion.

- That he believes what he said. Of course one is entitled to their beliefs, especially religious ones. But, it borders on some kind of mental deficiency to believe that your God would intend rape of women or the resulting pregnancies.

- That he said it. One wonders if he said to himself - did I say that out loud? Did he feel so comfortable in his surroundings that like being at an exclusive club he felt the other members had the same beliefs?

It is not too hard to extrapolate other beliefs from that statement. Let us just say that he and Muslim extremists in the world would find comfort with each other.

Of course - he realized very shortly after the debate that he had exposed himself.
""Are you trying to suggest somehow that God preordained rape, no I don't think that. Anyone who would suggest that is just sick and twisted. No, that's not even close to what I said."  [AP quote].
The sick and twisted.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ohio voter intimidation

Billboards placed in minority areas warned of the penalty for voter fraud. The content, tone, and area of placement were intended to intimidate voters.  [Ohio voter fraud billboards to come down, sponsor stays unnamed].



The billboards were sponsored by a "private family foundation' that chose to take them down rather than expose the names of the sponsors.

What are they afraid of?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Officer Frashour reinstated but put on paid leave

The Portland mayor: "Our fight for control of our own police bureau continues."  Fight against who? The union? Against all of the procedures that have consistently been resolved in Frashour's favor? [Portland mayor says he'll reinstate fired Officer Ron Frashour, put him on paid leave with back pay while appeal proceeds].

The mayor, city council and Oregonian, plus some special bloggers, have chosen to ignore the facts of the case and the many determinations resulting in orders to reinstate Mr. Frashour.

The mayor and the city posit their position as being the sole and arbitrary decision maker in personnel matters. For them it matters not that employees have legal rights or that the city and the union are bound by a collective bargaining agreement.

Despite the collective bargaining agreement and despite that all legal processes favoring the employee - they still want to exercise termination of a police department employee, and presumably all city employees, without restraint.

The unions representing the city employees ought to see that their common interest is at risk. The city's win on this issue threatens every employee with arbitrary dismissal. While the particular case deals with one individual, the precedent possibly set will affect all employees.

Plain and simple: The Frashour case represents an assault on public unions.

Politicizing the police leading to federal intervention

It's Oakland, California, but the story is all too similar to Portland. Liberal politicians attempting  to revolutionize, and in the process emasculate, the police department. [Oakland's best hope: federal intervention].

But fortunately for the residents of Oakland the primary news media the San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate online) has Oakland pegged. The article by Chip Johnson could well have been written about Portland.

"The council and Mayor [. . .] have bent over backward to accommodate activists against youth curfews and gang injunctions."

"City officials have willingly detoured around the kind of law enforcement efforts required to reclaim streets, blocks, neighborhoods and communities from the criminals, gang members and thugs who now control them."

"On more than one occasion, city officials have programmatic or soft solutions to crime, only to see the problem grow beyond their ability to control it."

"It's clear that [. . .] is a city where politicians chase their own agendas and rarely set aside their differences for the common good of the residents."

Oakland like Portland, and probably any city, has a dividing line where on one side violent crime is rampant and on the other side violent crime is minimal. The police are too often left with only the tools to 'fence in' violent crime. And too often the cities promotes an atmosphere of anti-cop bias that decimates the morale and professionalism of the police rank and file.

Oakland's policing has deteriorated to the point where the federal intervention is seen as the "last and best hope." Admittedly, the violent crime in Oakland is far more than that in Portland, but the handwriting is on the wall suggesting that Portland is going in the wrong direction.

One key indicator is the murder statistic. As of September 22, 2012 there has been 22 murders, in all of 2010 it was 22 and in all of 2011 it was 20 [FBI]. Sitting on the west side of the  Willamette I am fairly secure in the Pearl where violent crime is next to nothing, but if I were sitting on the east side - I wouldn't be feeling so secure.

Scientists decry insurer's linking climate change and extreme weather

It is Germany where insurance companies have been marketing policies in the US that "reduce the risks associated with climate change." One company though infuriated "climate change scientists by claiming to have found the first proof of a link between man-made climate change and an increase in extreme weather in the USA." [Scientists decry insurer's extreme weather claims].

Two excerpts that might move one to read the full article.
"Although the UNO Climate Change Committee (IPCC) has been warning of a potential increase in heat waves, torrential rain and floods, no serious scientist has been able to prove a direct link between man-made climate change and extreme weather, according to the article. "
"And there is no evidence that it will get worse - IPCC reports have even suggested that cold-snap-related catastrophes and storms could be less frequent in future."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vampirism: Young blood keeps you young.

Science? Shades of Bram Stoker. One can just imagine the blood farm containing young children being bled to keep the older generation young.

Read for yourself the Guardian UK story: Young blood can reverse some effects of ageing, study finds. If one can get by the premise - it may be a useful study in the effort to stave off Alzheimer's.

Frashour Analysis Changed

That is the headline in the print edition. Yes they still print the Oregonian. But what is different? It is old news that Lt. King, once union president, wrote 5 drafts of his report exonerating Frashour, but his last one had the opposite conclusion. [Portland police training review drafts of Frashour shooting show how lieutenant's analysis changed].

Interesting that in her February 2012 post - Maxine Bernstein - on the same subject matter had a different and racially tinged view. [Portland police instructors say Officer Ron Frashour followed his training when he shot Aaron Campbell]. The February post reflects her anti-cop bias that she has exhibited all along. She, and the Oregonian for that matter, has consistently highlighted the fact that Mr. Campbell was black. Never mind the fact that he was black had no relevance to the shooting.
"More than a year after Portland Police Chief Mike Reese fired Officer Ronald Frashour for his fatal shooting of an unarmed black man and found the officer violated bureau policy, at least 11 bureau training instructors argue the chief was wrong."
That was the lead in paragraph to the February post. The part about the 11 instructors nearly gets lost in paragraphs designed to keep the reader focused on Frashour as a person who shot an unarmed black man in the back.
"According to court documents, 11 Portland police training instructors, and retired Portland Officer Mike Stradley, who was Frashour's field training officer, were ready to testify otherwise. All are, or have been, members of the same union fighting Frashour's firing, the Portland Police Association."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why? "Amanda Fritz tops $300,000 in self-funding while trying to retain Portland City Council position "

In the Oregonian story on the self-funding, the question of why is never asked. What is it about political power that is so attractive that one is willing to spend $300,000 of their own money in an attempt to stay in power?

Now $300,000 may not be that much money for other candidates who have money donated to them by party politicos, and in Portland the ever present handout recipients the developers. In contrast to Fritz, her opponent hasn't a funding issue, she has no personal financial risk. And Commissioner Fritz and her immediate family may be wealthy enough to 'gift' to her funding needs - but I don't think so.

We don't know how she is raising the $300,000. And basically it is none of our business, but it seems that $300,000 is not an easy sum to come by. Savings? Borrowing by mortgaging? If she wins, her salary will pay for the expenditures. And she may be able to repay the funds by post campaigning fund raisers. Some tax benefit may accrue  But it is still $300,000 out the door.


Stifling political free speech

Green Party Presidential candidates were arrested outside the second presidential debate. Essentially protesting their exclusion under the debate rules - the two candidates were blocked by the police. They were arrested after they sat down. [Green Party Presidential Candidates Are Arrested Outside Debate Venue : The Two-Way].

There was no confrontation - hostile or otherwise. See the video embedded in the NPR post. They are legitimate candidates. The charge according to the Green Party press release was "obstructing traffic." Suffice to say there was no traffic allowed in that area of the debate venue.

Of course the excluded candidates gained (or maybe not) some media attention because of the arrest - but that doesn't offset the illegality of the arrest.

One guesses that charges will never be brought - no self-respecting DA would prosecute. The false charges - a convenience for the police - stifles political speech which should and must be the freest of all speech.

You can have an opinion - if it's mine.

Apparently because of a pot user's complaint anti-marijuana billboards were removed. The ad states that there is nothing good about marijuana.

It is an opinion, a point of view, a perspective - shared by many people.

The complainant: "A car accident 14 years ago left Cyn Sativa in a lot of pain.  She now self medicates with medical marijuana regularly."  She sees the message that there is nothing good about marijuana as "completely misleading." She says it helps to deal with pain.

It is an opinion, a point of view, a perspective - shared by many people.

Why should one opinion, point of view, or perspective trump another?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Stepping back is a viable and valuable option

History offers valuable and real data upon which to make intelligent, present day decisions, e.g., the US government's on-going effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons operationally. NPR's How Kennedy Stepped Back From The Brink Of War offers some evidence that patient diplomatic efforts pay off.

The NPR article is highlighting an exhibit "To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis"  that is open at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., through Feb. 3, 2013. The Cuban missile crisis offers a close (too close) analogy with today's Iranian nuclear crisis. Maybe not at the precipice - but close enough.

While today the issue is not missiles located 90 or so from the US - it seems close enough with today's missile technology absent in 1962. The fear today as then is that the country in question would become operationally threatening to the US security, or by extension, US security interests.

From NPR's article: "At one point the president [Kennedy] says, 'Time ticks away on us.'" "Because with each passing moment, those missile sites are getting closer and closer to being fully operational. And that's what the president wanted to avoid."

And it wasn't the Cubans we were worried about - it was having the Russians 90 miles or so from the US mainland - homeland, if you will. Kruschev makes Putin look like a pussycat. Nuclear war with Russia, with Russia the first user, was a real possibility in 1962 enhanced by a Kruschev.

In 1962 there were those, like today, that were "just falling short of calling him [President Kennedy] a coward for not taking direct, quick military action." As then and now, the past should guide our policies and actions.

First strikes are not viable. Again from NPR - President Kennedy: "A course of action where we strike without warning is like Pearl Harbor." "It's the kind of conduct that one might expect of the Soviet Union. It is not conduct that one expects of the United States."

Clear thinking and diplomacy. Kennedy "was able to find a solution that was acceptable to Khrushchev, didn't humiliate his adversary and was able to step back."

That has to be the core leadership quality - clear thinking and diplomatic. Those that beat on their chest and roar about military prowess belong in a zoo.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Irony? Hezbollah's drone is by the way of Iranian capture of US drone

Iranian backed Hezbollah recent launch of a drone into Israel is a likely result of the capture of the American drone by Iran in 2011. [Iran says drone showcases its 'great capabilities'].

The Iranians claim that it was " a sign of the Islamic Republic's military capabilities."  Copying is not quite the same of original design. There is little evidence that the Islamic Republic has military capabilities of any worth.

Navy cruiser and submarine collide - sub's commander is a goner

The Reuter story contained an important gem that none of the other stories contained. [Damage but no injuries as U.S. Navy cruiser, submarine collide].
"A Navy official said the watch team aboard the San Jacinto saw a periscope rise from the water about 100 to 200 yards (meters) ahead of the vessel during the exercise. The cruiser ordered "all back," but the San Jacinto still collided with the submarine."
It matters not if the cruiser was in the right spot or not - no excuse for a submarine to surface without knowing that the cruiser was nearly overhead.

The Navy routinely cans its ship's captains for even the smallest of errors. Most just lose career advancement - this sub's captain will likely be kicked out.

Cuban missile crisis - the secret one

The 1962 Cuban missile crisis was a serious game of brinksmanship that resulted in Russia's withdrawal of their nuclear missiles from Cuba.

But it left another weapons crisis that remained secret until recently. To appease Cuba the Russians left "100 tactical nuclear weapons that had been shipped to Cuba along with the long-range missiles . . ." The American government was unaware of these weapons. [Cuban missile crisis: The other, secret one].

The Russians did the right thing and 'duped' Cuba into the return of the weapons. Of course there were failures by our intelligence services. But one wonders how the crisis might have proceeded had the US been aware.

Those years in our country were crisis ridden. The missile crisis, assassination of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy created an uncertainty in America not faced before or after.

9-11 and subsequent years in the war on terrorism pales in comparison.

Interesting is that in the aftermath of President Kennedy's assassination - cooler heads prevailed, unlike in the aftermath of 9-11.

Good lawyering: Lance Armstrong may take lie detector test

Armstrong's attorney is trying to create that 'reasonable doubt' in the minds of the American public. But, the word "may" in this context means not bloody likely. [Christian Science Monitor].

The only people who find that the polygraph (lie detector test) has any use is law enforcement. They typically use it only to help eliminate a suspect. Results is dependent on the skill of the examiner. There is a reason that it is not admissible evidence at trial.

The Christian Science Monitor's story also includes more on those teammates and the like who have admitted to cheating.  See this story from the New York Times about Armstrong's former masseuse.

I may have missed it - but there is no one on the cycling team that is standing by Armstrongs implied denial. But why would many of these people admit to wrongdoing and therefore lose rights to records and to rightly suffer the disapprobation?

It took the doping agency a long time to make their case - but they make a solid case - far from circumstantial. See the Huffington Post:  Lance Armstrong Doping: Anti-Doping Agency Says 11 Teammates Testified Against Him In Probe.

Armstrong is more than a disappointment - he is a national shame.

Fremont ranked top U.S. city for tech startups

It is an interesting San Jose Mercury story about Fremont, California. Superficially there is no reason that it shouldn't be Portland.  The same "tech" drivel has been spouted by both mayors, except Fremont apparently made it a reality.

The story is more about a 'shout-out' for SizeUp a company that provides "free business intelligence for small and mid-sized businesses." With little effort you too can create a report.

A better write-up is found in an American Express Open Forum blog post Go West, Young Entrepreneur. It specifies the top 10 cities ranking technology startups per capita. Fremont is at the top, San Jose is number 2, and Seattle is number 9. Portland isn't in the top 10.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Republican Electioneering - Outing the CIA in a public hearing on Libya

Politics rule - never the country. In what has been described as a 'bonehead' move, Republicans attempting to make political hay out of the seemingly failure by the state department to adequately protect the Libya compound - exposed the CIA presence at the embassy compound. [Republicans' security lapse: Outing the CIA in a public hearing on Libya].
"Republicans were aiming to embarrass the Obama administration over State Department security lapses. But they inadvertently caused a different picture to emerge than the one that has been publicly known: that the victims may have been let down not by the State Department but by the CIA."

Tokyo Electric Power didn't act on known safety issues before tsunami

TEPCO knew of the safety issues yet failed to act. They "feared the political, economic and legal consequences of implementing them." [Why Tokyo Electric Power didn't act on safety issues before tsunami].

But here is the crux of the matter: "Investigative reports compiled by the government and the parliament panels said collusion between the company and government regulators allowed lax supervision and allowed TEPCO to continue lagging behind in safety steps."

The government shares the blame for the failure to institute safety improvements. They rolled the dice and its citizens paid the price. Fortunately, the world seems to have escaped any significant damage.

Portland high schools - in need of improvement

That isn't news is it? See the Oregonian Six Portland high schools designated as in need of improvement.
While I deplore the abundant use of 'consultants' in general by Portland politicos - often used only to buttress their position - the Portland Public Schools District needs help. A truly independent and transparent analysis is desperately needed.

I have only lived here for 8 years, but in none of those years has there been a positive assessment for the district. The district itself, including teachers, have excuses but no solutions.

Is there something that they are not telling us? It isn't really difficult to find successful schools in the state that perform well despite class size and despite a high percentage of students from low income families or from families designated a racial minority or non-English speaking.

8 years from today - the story isn't likely to be different. Is it?

Texas checkpoint scores again

"The incident took place at the same checkpoint where singers Willie Nelson and Fiona Apple, rapper Snoop Dogg and actor Armand Hammer have been stopped for possession of controlled substances. "[Drugs, gun found on rapper Nelly's bus at Texas checkpoint].

Doesn't say much for critical thinking.

Humanitarian effort to help a canine heroine

Take a look at the image from SFGate - it appears that something is wrong with the image not the dog.  [Snout-less 'hero dog' Kabang arrives at UC Davis]. The dog "reportedly threw herself into the path of a speeding motorcycle just as it was about to hit two young girls crossing a roadway . . . ."
Snout-less 'hero dog' Kabang arrives at UC Davis - SFGate
It is a great story for dog lovers like myself. The "fundraising campaign [...] raised more than $20,000 in donations from 20 different countries, enough to pay for surgery, airfare, visas, passports and a hotel stay for the dog and her handlers." But there must have been some 'freebies' included. $20k wouldn't seem to be enough.

But I have to admit I wondered why the same compassion wouldn't be applied to the many humans who live on the street - not by choice but at their last effort to survive?

Somehow 33-years doesn't seem enough

33-year sentence for attack on boy at Portland Wendy's.

Anti-fluoride group collects more than double signatures

Not only that - they turned in the signatures one day ahead of the deadline. [Anti-fluoride group collects 43,236 signatures in fight for Portland vote].

Fluoride in the water is an obvious voter issue. The Portland city council (5 - 0) was wrong to attempt to by-pass the voters. See my earlier post. Google or Bing "fluoride" - it is a hot topic even today. See this post.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Armstrong - what a disappointment!

Assessment from ABC News:

"Either way, it serves up the most detailed, unflinching portrayal yet of Armstrong as a man who would pay virtually any price — financially, emotionally and physically — to win the seven Tour de France titles that the anti-doping agency has ordered taken away."  [Armstrong Report Includes 200 Pages, 26 Witnesses].

Rationale from his teammate Hincapie:

"Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them."

We owe the French an apology.

Pope warns of spiritual desertification

Arguably the Catholic Church just doesn't get it. The Vatican has concluded that those who have left the Church have abandoned their relationship with God. Organized religions like the Roman Catholic Church assume that it is only through them that a spiritual relationship with God can exist.

Thus the Vatican has called for "the 'new evangelization' of the developed world and it has asked Catholics, particularly those who have left the Church, to look deep into their hearts and either rekindle their relationship with God or deepen it."  [Pope warns lapsed Catholics of spiritual desertification].

But instead of a "new evangelization,"  the Church needs a healthy dose of introspection. "The Church is suffering desertions from its practicing flock in former strongholds in Europe, North America and Latin America due to sex abuse scandals, increasing secularism, rival faiths and open dissent against Church teachings on homosexuality and its ban on a female priesthood."  [Pope warns lapsed Catholics of spiritual desertification].

The "new evangelization" call makes a significant distinction by the use of  "developed world." It is the developed world that is educated. It is where self-determination, self-perfection and self-realization can exist. In a sense the 'developed world' is only where the opportunity and ability to exercise free will exists.

Interesting is that the Catholic Church supports the concept of free will, but only within the parameters it sets forth. [See Free Will; see too Free Will]. That is, it is the Church that tells you how to exercise your will. They would say it is guidance, but it isn't when the exercise of free will contrary to church teachings is punished.

It is about the money, not one's spiritual well-being.

The Catholic Church is an organization that is feeling the pain of loss of revenue. The straying Catholics is costing them the Sunday tithes. See this story about the Church in Germany - German Catholics' Path To Heaven Comes With Taxes.
". . . Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the president of the German bishops' conference, said that not paying taxes for the church is a grave offense, and that sacraments will be banned for those who distance themselves from the church."
In Germany, "the state collects a special levy from tax-registered believers and hands it over to three organized faiths. Registered Catholics, Protestants and Jews pay a surcharge of up to 9 percent on their income. The Catholic Church alone received some $6.5 billion in 2011."

Oh yes - it's about the money. Your soul be damned.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Growth in secularism

Well maybe. The New York Times highlights a Pew study “Nones” on the Rise.  According to the study:
"The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling."
But one might argue that it not that Americans are becoming necessarily less religious but less attracted to organized religion.
"The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. " [Pew Forum].
Do you need to go to a church on Sunday to be religious? The study also found that:
"Two-thirds of them [the non-affiliated] say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day."
There are some though that are not seeing the forest. They are mixing  religion and  faith with spirituality and humanity.  Most people do not need a religion or a faith to be spiritual, compassionate, humanitarian, and merciful.
A lot of the younger people are very spotty in their attendance at worship, but if we have a mission project, they’re here. They run the soup kitchens, they build the houses in Habitat for Humanity.” [Presbyterian minister quoted in NYTimes.]
But that pastor sees that work by younger people as an exhibition of their faith.

Here is the study's cincher:
"With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics."
Amen!

Pakistan - humanity peeking through Taliban's cloak of religious ideology

Pakistanis across the country and across all political and religious sectors have Erupt[ed] in Anger Over Taliban’s Shooting of Malala Yousafza.

"A Taliban gunman singled out and shot the girl, Malala Yousafzai, on Tuesday, and a spokesman said it was in retaliation for her work in promoting girls’ education and children’s rights in the northwestern Swat Valley, near the Afghan border."

It is difficult to understand how a religious ideology can be used to kill a young girl because she promoted girls' education. And so too that Pakistan's young women do not have access to education.

What kind of religion fails to treat all humankind equally?

Speaks volumes about backwardness in Pakistan.

Students are not a priority


Administrators receive pay raises - while students' needs are ignored. Medford school board upset about 6.5 percent pay raises for administrators.

Subsidized apartment investors inspection

Before Portland, I never lived in apartments that were in any way subsidized with public funds.  But every year the 'investors' come to inspect the apartments to make sure that their investment is protected.

Commercial investors don't inspect non-subsidized apartments - why not?  Because they can when there is public subsidies. It is the image that low income people don't care of rented apartments.  One wonders if because of the inspection the apartment management has ever evicted anyone or has ever issued some notice of violation

Ironically, the way the rents are determined there are many renters now with incomes that would deny them their apartment. While initially a tenant moves in under a low rent protocol - thereafter, irrespective of  income, the rent is not reassessed.

Lake Oswego cops on Red Line

Last week, about 11:30 A.M., I was on the Red line going to the Airport and two Lake Oswego cops came on board to check fares. Why? For one TriMet rider - the answer would have been harrassment.

The cops got off at the transit center, but re-boarded to check the fare of a man who with bike just boarded. He couldn't produce the fare quick enough for these cops - so they made the man exit the train. Guess what - he had the proper ticket. Of course the train left before he could appease the cops.

TriMet might want to rethink using cops to check fares and cops need to decline that duty. It is one thing to be checking on miscreants - but another to put police at odds with the citizenry. Protect and Serve shouldn't include fare supervision.

"Kah San Chako Haws"

It "means east house in the Chinook language." Modular apartments up in 3 days.  My oh my! What can the interior look like? Well, take a peek at the interior as seen in the video accompanying the KGW story: Portland apartment complex built in 3 days.

While the "affordable" is constantly used - it is never quantified. Just how much will it cost the tenants? And what will be the income guidelines?

Frankly, despite the modular concept, it appears that the end product might be as good, or in some instances, better than the standard construction. But I am taking that from what I saw and heard on the video.

The housing is designated for Native Americans. I hope this doesn't turn out to be another 'white man's' trick.

Tesla Model S - now that is an electric car!

Electrics have the torque. Take a peek at the video contained in this Green Autoblog post: Tesla Model S vs. BMW M5: The drag race.

I'm with Jack - write in LaVonne Griffin-Valade for Mayor

You can do this (Jack Bog's Blog)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Is this the best that Portland has to offer?

Not only does it appear that bus-man Smith hit the woman with his fist - it was not provoked. And to top it off, he recently went to the woman's resident twice in violation of a criminal diversion agreement. The agreement - just another thing he forgot? [Police Report And Victim Contradict Smith's Version of 1993 Assault: Updated; Oregonian's Steve Duin; and Oregonian's Beth Slovic.].

There seems to be some that are making a distinction between the young Smith and the present Smith - it did happen 19 years ago. And that may be a fair argument - after all life is a learning experience (or it should be).  But hitting women is not defensible especially when there is considerable size difference. She is a foot shorter and 100 lbs lighter than Smith. That is a character flaw - not age related conduct.

His hit resulted in 5-6 stitches. And ironically it appears that the bus-man admitted to using his fist back then - but now has lied - extremely vague to say the least - about the event. Sound familiar? Caught in a wrong - rather than being forthright - lie?

There is not one positive aspect about Jefferson Smith. He has done nothing to deserve a position of leadership in Portland. It is more than clay feet.

Peak oil, climate change, global warming - really?

The Christian Science Monitor has an excellent thought provoking article on the dilemma facing the globe - not just the US or any one country - oil depletion and climate change. The gist is that either one will lead to serious upheavals in civilization. [Underestimating the dangers of peak oil and climate change ].

Arguably if oil consumption is the direct cause of climate change, oil depletion remedies negative climate change. Even if not linked, isn't it certain, or nearly so, that either will lead to catastrophic results? But which of the two catastrophes will occur first?

The article notes that while there is a high probability that there is a cause and effect connection between oil consumption and increased greenhouse effect - it is not certain. There doesn't seem to be that empirical evidence that can't be explained away by the skeptics. Maybe it is just that we don't want to believe After all - it is a harbinger of doom. But, maybe it is best to assume that it is real.

Pogo said we have met the enemy and he is us. It is us that is consuming using fossil fuels to depletion as well as adding to the greenhouse effect, therefore global warming and therefore climate change. It is more than coincidental.

But even if 'us' were not causing climate change, that is, it is a natural occurrence - a part of a cycle - shouldn't we still work to decrease the effects? And since fossils fuels are finite - shouldn't we be planning - not necessarily for the present day us, but for the future us?
"Even if we could calculate that the chances were merely 5 percent that one or both problems might result in civilization-shaking outcomes, it would behoove us to take steps to head off possible disaster--just as we would step off a plane that we know has a 5 percent chance of crashing before it reaches its destination." [Underestimating the dangers of peak oil and climate change].

Monday, October 8, 2012

Global warming in 1962?

The Oregonian had a brief look back to a storm occurring on Columbus Day in 1962. Not to deny global warming or the like - but it is these events that people like myself can remember that often casts doubts on the credibility of the doomsayers.

See too this story in the Christian Science Monitor: Underestimating the dangers of peak oil and climate change.
"One reason that so many people discount the risks of oil depletion and climate change is that their experience tells them to do so."

Part I Crime Stats Through September 22

Not much difference from the posting re September 15. But take a peek at the differences between week ending September 15th and the 22nd. Rape and robbery were up significantly.

Amtrak train hits bicyclist in "quite zone"

While the story was repeated in the Portland media none had the particulars. Maybe the closest was KPTV that stated: "A man on a bike was clipped by an Amtrak train in northwest Portland."
Amtrak train hits bicyclist in Northwest Portland | OregonLive.com
They too had this picture of the crossing - which accurately places the blame on the bicyclist. There is no way that he or she came in contact with the train except to be in the prohibited area of the crossing.

I found it interesting though that this is one of the crossings that was 'upgraded' to appease the Pearl residents that didn't like the trains sounding the horn.  See the 2010 KGW story Train horn 'quiet zone' in Pearl nearly complete.

"T'aint funny, McGee!"

Obama, on fundraising swing, jokes about poor debate.

[Title from Fibber McGee and Molly.]

A kinder way to die

The New York Times author titled his post as How to Die. It is another story about that there comes a time when a person ought to have the right just to die. And it ought to be as kind as possible.

The author is relating a personal family experience with the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient protocol. It "is a UK care pathway covering palliative care options for patients in the final days or hours of life. It helps doctors and nurses provide quality end-of-life care."

It doesn't exist in the US. We know best - not just for ourselves but for others.  Here in the US  - there are those (individuals and institutions) that somehow believe that they have the right to dictate your birth, life and death. They just can't let others have different beliefs.

In the US with ". . . aggressive treatment they could — and many hospitals would — have sustained a kind of life for a while." And that is the nub - "a kind of life." The UK protocol provides the patient with a choice - a kinder way to die.

The author notes: "In America, nothing happens without a cost-benefit analysis. But the case for a less excruciating death can stand on a more neutral, less disturbing foundation, namely that it is simply a kinder way of death."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Portland Part 1 Crime Stats Through September 15

The stats are here. Although it seems to get no play in the media - it is clear that Part 1 crime is up throughout the city. 9 out of the 11 reported categories show significant increases. Only Rape and Arson decreased over the year to date.

One needs to look at the numbers as well as the percentages. E.g., murder is up 47%, that is an increase from 15 to 22 murders. It is the largest percentage increase among the categories. But look at Burglary, Resident - 18% increase, 323 numerical increase.

When a 'death' is good news

Living building is dead. "'The proposed Oregon Sustainability Center was set to be a laboratory for green technology,' Adams said in a prepared statement." [via After spending $2.3 million, Mayor Sam Adams abandons Oregon Sustainability Center].

The concept wasn't necessarily bad - what was bad was that the concept was to be paid mostly from public funds. Starting out at $90 million and cut back to $62 million - the project at best was a legacy builder.

It would have never have been economically self-sustaining much less environmentally self-sustaining. Thanks to the legislature that essentially, and finally, killed the project.

Given the cost to the public - it is doubtful that any Portlander would have had the building in their top 10 (maybe even top 100) spending necessities.

Chris Stevens - more than an ambassador


J. Christopher Stevens was the United States Ambassador to Libya who was murdered recently in Libya by Al Qaeda extremists. The news media focused on who was responsible giving short shrift to the value of this diplomat, his sacrifice and service to our government. And politicians used the event to gain some foothold in presidential politics.

Little, at least not enough, has come out about him. But this post Remembering Chris Stevens: My Journey to Ouaouizerth (via Jack Bog's Blog) remedies that in part by speaking to his service to the country as a Peace Corps volunteer.

It is a great read.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Angry at Washington gridlock? Is it mirror mirror on the wall that holds the answer?

"But if there's plenty of blame to go around, some of it belongs to the voters themselves. They are the ones who have chosen the politicians." [Angry At Washington Gridlock? You May Want To Look In The Mirror].

Then there is this: "Voters are simply responding to the choices they're given by a political and primary system that is "essentially rigged to favor extremists." [Jonathan Rauch, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, quoted in Angry At Washington Gridlock?. . .].

But what I find interesting is that politics has become more like a sport.  This can be inferred from the NPR article noting that " just knowing the partisan label behind a position made people more likely to embrace or reject it."

It is that support, right or wrong, for the home team that leads to divisiveness and rigidity in position. People support their team irrespective of their worth. It becomes my team (or party) right or wrong.
Extreme positions seem more prevalent than ever - at least that seems to be reflected in the new media. 

Hostile and uncivil comments come from both sides of the partisan aisle. Compromise doesn't exist. Polarization results in loss of democracy.

Political parties have become about serving minority (numbers) interests. It is not about serving the majority of citizens. Politicians campaign telling each group what they are going to do for them - knowing full well that it won't happen.

Campaigns don't speak to the needs of the nation. The economy needs improving. Global warming, whatever the cause, appears real. Use and dependence on fossil fuels increases despite such fuels are not renewable.  Wars, with the deaths and injuries to our service men and women, continue with no end in sight. There is growing gap in income and health care availability.  The list of serious issues is endless.

But while the incumbents try to pass legislation the opposition does everything possible to sabotage it. Not because it isn't good legislation, but merely because if is offered by the incumbents. It is not a Democrat Republican division - it is who is in or out.

It is about political power being controlled to serve what they consider to be their base. The Republicans serve the wealthy and the Democrats serve the poor. But there is a vast majority that are in the middle (not necessarily middle-class) that are ignored.

Doesn't this have to change?

My kind of guy - "Catholic theologian preaches revolution to end church's 'authoritarian' rule"

"The only way for reform is from the bottom up.  The priests and others in positions of responsibility need to stop being so subservient, to organise themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore."  [Catholic theologian preaches revolution to end church's 'authoritarian' rule].

The theologian Hans Küng is no ordinary Catholic rabble-rouser.   He had worked with the pope when they both were theologians, and he is "the author of around 30 books on Catholic theology, Christianity and ethics, which have sold millions worldwide."

And this only further endears him to me. Of prime minister Tony Blair's support for president George Bush in the Iraq War, Kung said he "was astounded that a British prime minister could make such a catastrophic mistake, and he remains for me a tragic figure."

Hans Küng is also president of Global Ethic Foundation (Weltethos) that "was founded in the early 1990s as an attempt to bring the religions of the world together by emphasising what they have in common rather than what divides them."  [Guardian UKWikipedia].

Checkout a few of those who support the Global Ethic Foundation work: Henry KissingerKofi AnnanJacques RoggeDesmond TutuMary Robinson and Shirin Ebadiere.

This is an excerpt from Global Ethic Foundation's The Declaration of the Parliament of the World’s Religions:  
"We must strive for a just social and economic order, in which everyone has an equal chance to reach full potential as a human being. We must speak and act truthfully and with compassion, dealing fairly with all, and avoiding prejudice and hatred. We must not steal. We must move beyond the dominance of greed for power, prestige, money, and consumption to make a just and peaceful world.
 Sounds good to me.