Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Trending in crime - crime stats

The crime rates for those crimes, one exception, that are significantly important are trending up. Murder, robbery, aggravated assault, and residential burglaries have significantly increased over last years' statistics. The one exception is rape which is down - but even 188, down from 194, as of 11/10/12, is unacceptable. That is about 16 rapes per month.

The crime statistics lag - the recent published statistics is for week 45. But in the next 7 weeks it is unlikely that crime rates will decease significantly to change the alarming upward trend in crime. Take a peek at the FlashAlert site for Portland's daily crime reports. The number of armed robberies are alarming. Banks, convenience stores, and pedestrians seem to be routinely robbed.

See the 2011 FBI Part 1 stats - Portland is definitely a trend setter.

Arguably all crimes ought to be publically tracked and editorialized by the local media - not just the regurgitation of selected news flashes. But especially those crimes that reflect a violent society and a disregard for property of others should be put in front our noses constantly.

Hard to believe - a NY day without a shooting, stabbing, slashing or murder

It is an anomaly. There will be those who will champion the 'stop and frisk' policy of the city and those that will point out that disaster tends to moderate crime at least briefly. Whatever - too bad it can't be bottled and passed around.

Bitter email: right on point - maybe too many years late

An excerpt from an UK father's email to his grown children: "Fulfilling careers based on your educations would have helped - but as yet none of you is what I would confidently term properly self-supporting. "Each of you is well able to earn a comfortable living and provide for your children, yet each of you has contrived to avoid even moderate achievement." ['Bitterly' Disappointed Dad's Email to Children Goes Viral].

Oregon's school chief - clueless

"How we rank in the nation is really, truly surprising to me," said Oregon schools chief Rob Saxton." [Oregon's high school graduation rate fourth worst in nation; no state graduates fewer white students on time].

Now he a new guy - but one would expect that statistics like graduation rates would be not only handy but relatively accurate.

He goes on to say: "It is a disappointment and an indicator of how much work we need to do. " He is disappointed? What about all the students that have failed to graduate and those to fail in the immediate and most likely foreseeable future.

And a duh to Mr. Saxton for this: "Your educational attainment is one of your best indicators of your opportunity to be successful, as a person, as a wage earner and as a taxpayer."

Of course Mr. Saxton doesn't grasp that the Oregon leadership cares little about public school graduation rates because their children go to the 'better' schools. And they are situated to see that their children go on to college and become the successful person, wage earner and taxpayer.

Another news story that is doomed to be repeated year after year.  I wonder how the Oregonian editorial board will comment?

It is not leadership nor democratic - it is fixed partisanship

"Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, signed the pledge in 1992. That was nearly 20 years ago, a lot has changed since then. But for Norquist, the pledge is forever.Grover Norquist: The tax pledge is forever].

Monday, November 26, 2012

Why McMinnville? Where is Portland?

Oh that's right - Portland gave up trying. See McMinnville only Oregon finalist for federal Race to the Top district grant.

What might McMinnville receive in the way of federal money? "The U.S. Department of Education plans to choose 15 to 25 winners by Dec. 31. Awards will range from $40 million for large districts down to $5 million."

Take notice too that in September 2010 "McMinnville, won $20 million [...] in a federal competition to improve the quality of teaching and to test performance pay for principals and teachers."

Why can't Portland Public Schools compete?

At least they tried

Hillsboro School District falls short in Race to the Top grant pursuit.

A no-brainer: Unconstitutional to limit public surveilance of police performing public duties

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Case On Taping Police Officers : The Two-Way : NPR

Child sexual abuse - changes to mandatory reporting troublesome

The new law expands the list of those mandated by law to report suspected child abuse. The extant and extensive list of mandatory reporters will now includes college employees. The media reports indicate that the expansion is constrained to suspected child sex abuse, but that limitation seems unlikely because the law relates to the reporting of "child abuse."

Apparently it was prompted, at least in part, by the Penn State incidents. But the new law is a hindsight law that at best may convince the general public that our legislature cares. It is also the means that the well-intentioned use to solve problems - pass a law and problem solved.

The new law (I haven't seen the text) apparently extends beyond any suspected child abuse that a college worker might see in his or her ordinary duties to abuse that is suspected anywhere 24/7.

Assuming that the law could or should be enforced - a college employee has no particular attribute that qualifies him or her to spot suspected abuse. If one (mandatory reporter or not) has firsthand knowledge - he or she will not be encouraged or discouraged by a law - their moral code will be the determination to report.

The Penn State case involved university officials who, it is argued, knew of the reported sexual abuse yet failed to call the police. Apparently the argument is that they covered up the event to protect the university. If true then their moral code would not have been any different with a mandatory reporting law - the university would still be their first priority.

Many people it is said to stay quiet when they suspect or even witness child abuse. Why? "Mostly, they were afraid -- afraid of being wrong, afraid of retaliation, afraid of making things worse for the child."  [Mandatory reporting: Pass 'Penn State bill' on child abuse, then keep talking].

Those are good reasons that will not be changed by mandatory reporting. E.g., it is not unreasonable for people to assume that they might be wrong, and if so, realize that the consequences may be severe. See the Day-care sex-abuse hysteria case. it is an extreme case, but it demonstrates how a claim can take the justice system down the wrong path

But I would add too that determining suspected abuse is a legal term of art that can only be defined in court only after the abuse has occurred. It is the term "suspect" that offers too much ambiguity for effective enforcement. Anything short of firsthand knowledge will be difficult to assess as to culpability. How much suspicion is needed for a valid report that can be legitimately acted upon?

And of course there is the difficulty that we use the term "abuse" as if it has universal and obvious meaning - it doesn't. Define it as you might in a statute - there will be few that will know of the statute or the meaning contained therein. And even with 'training' it is unlikely that anyone will remember the definition with its limitations.

It is important to note too that the penalty is a fine. One cannot expect that a fine will be levied except only in a hindsight situation; thus, a failed report is unlikely to come to light except after the fact, the abuse still occurred.

But, the law may establish a legal duty to report that may be a basis for a lawsuit for either a report or a failure to report. Oh yes - the law offers protection in the form of immunity from liabilities, but defending or prosecuting a legal action is not inexpensive.

A little out of context, child abuse, especially sexual abuse, is too often misused by those with an agenda. As an attorney who has been involved in a goodly number of child custody cases - reported child physical abuse is often used to gain an advantage by a parent or another close to the action. Yes - even sexual abuse comes into play when, e.g., well-intentioned grandparents claim knowledge of sexual abuse. A father in a custody action who bathes his very young child  is risking his custody rights.

However, my concerns apply to any law that mandates citizens reporting on other citizens. And that is where the new expansion takes us. It is not difficult to support a reporting mandate where that reporter is by his or her profession uniquely qualified to spot abuse, e.g., a pediatrician.

But,  "[e]ven doctors under-report, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. One 2008 survey found that only 31 percent of Americans contacted the police or child services when confronted with suspected abuse."  Presumably, these doctors are required to report suspected abuse. But, even if not, will mandated reporting change the under-reporting?

Oregonian's Susan Nielsen: "This problem can't be fixed solely by passing tougher mandatory-reporting laws . . . . It also requires tackling the fear and mistrust that fuel people's reluctance to speak out."  But with pediatricians failing to speak out -it may point to the fact that there is more to the failure to report than reluctance or fear.

Two recent cases in the news - Jimmy Savile (UK) and Jerry Sandusky (USA) demonstrate a certain cognitive dissonance. And we see it nearly everyday in the media when someone is arrested for some heinous crime - those who know the person just can't believe hat he or she would or could have done it.

No solution in sight - but mandatory reporting or expanding the list of mandatory reporters is not the answer. Stepping, even if inching, toward a society that encourages its citizens to report on one another weakens the overall fabric of a democratic society.

Adidas' "food stamps" in Indonesia

Companies like adidas with its USA headquarters in Portland have no affection for the workers that make adidas products. In Indonesia,  "[t]he owner of PT Kizone fled Indonesia in Janaury 2011 without paying workers $3.3 million in legally mandated severance. More than 2,800 workers are affected."

From Workers Rights Consortium: "an independent labor rights monitoring organization, conducting investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe." Their "purpose is to combat sweatshops and protect the rights of workers who make apparel and other products."
"The factory produced for Nike, adidas, the Dallas Cowboys, and other brands. Nike has paid the workers $500,000 and persuaded Green Textile, an intermediary that placed brands’ orders at the factory, to pay $1 million. The Dallas Cowboys have paid $55,000. Nearly $1.8 million is still owed to the workers. Adidas has refused to contribute, instead providing a comparatively small amount of shopping vouchers to a local convenience store and sponsoring a job placement program which has only helped a small portion of workers. The workers have repeatedly rejected the food vouchers as an inappropriate means of compensation [Bold emphasis added]." [WRC Factory Investigation].
Three key points with respect to the food vouchers offered by Adidas instead of direct compensation:
"Worker representatives opposed this program as a means of aiding the PT Kizone workers, both because they do not consider it a legitimate substitute for paying workers what they are legally owed and because the food vouchers, as structured by adidas, were of very limited utility . . . ."
"The food vouchers adidas provided were designed in a manner that reflects disregard for the needs of the affected workers. Specifically, the food vouchers were a) valid only at a single chain of markets, Alfamart, which is similar to 7-11 and which workers do not patronize because they consider it to be overpriced, . . . ."
"From a legal and labor rights standpoint, in-kind assistance like food vouchers cannot be substituted for workers’ lawful compensation, except by agreement with workers’ chosen representatives."
The conduct of adidas stands in sharp contrast to Nike and the Dallas Cowboys.  One presumes: all in the name of serving their shareholders.

Failure to communicate

Is it any wonder that we don't quite understand each other. See the same paragraph from two different sources. Notice the difficulty to communicate even the essence of the story while legitimately copying a news story.

From ABC News:

"READ the original ABC News report.

"The industry and parent brands in the U.S. have been warned again and again about the extreme danger to workers in Bangladesh and they have not taken action," said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, an American group working to improve conditions at factories abroad that make clothes for U.S. companies. Nova said the fire was the most deadly in the history of the Bangladesh apparel industry, and "one of the worst in any country."


From The Muslim News.

"READ a strange ABC News report.

The attention and primogenitor brands in a U.S. have been warned again and again about a impassioned risk to workers in Bangladesh and they have not taken action,” pronounced Scott Nova, executive executive of a Worker Rights Consortium, an American organisation operative to urge conditions during factories abroad that make garments for U.S. companies. Nova pronounced a glow was a many lethal in a story of a Bangladesh attire industry, and “one of a misfortune in any country.”

112 Bangladesh workers died making your clothes

It is not that it was unexpected.
"The Tazreen fire is the latest in a series of deadly blazes at garment factories in Bangladesh, where more than 700 workers, many making clothes for U.S. consumers, have died in factory fires in the past five years. As previously reported by ABC News, Bangladesh has some of the cheapest labor in the world and some of the most deplorable working conditions." [Fire Kills 112 Workers Making Clothes for US Brands].
From the original ABC News report:
"The industry and parent brands in the U.S. have been warned again and again about the extreme danger to workers in Bangladesh and they have not taken action," said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, an American group working to improve conditions at factories abroad that make clothes for U.S. companies. Nova said the fire was the most deadly in the history of the Bangladesh apparel industry, and "one of the worst in any country." [Link added].
The reason jobs are outsourced is that companies can use "some of the cheapest labor in the world" and make the workers work in "some of the most deplorable working conditions." While there is a tendency to blame only the corporations - consumers are much to blame too.

Boycotting goods made under such working conditions would a good step to leveling the playing field for all workers. But then your Wal-Mart, Sears and Sean "Diddy" Combs clothes would cost more - or would it?.



"[C]ompliant citizenry"

It is a BBC story about a Texas school district that had implemented the student wearing of a chip that monitors the student while on campus. A court - for obvious reasons - has issued a restraining against the school district.
[US school tag tracker project prompts court row].

Part of the lawsuit claimed violation of religious beliefs. The student's father: "Wearing such a barcoded tag can be seen as a mark of the beast as described in Revelation 13 in the Bible." The Rutherford Institute, a liberties campaign group, that filed the legal action sees it this way: "These 'student locator' programmes are ultimately aimed at getting students used to living in a total surveillance state where there will be no privacy, and wherever you go and whatever you text or email will be watched by the government."

From the Rutherford Institute site: “She’s not being treated equally,” said John Whitehead, who is representing Andrea Hernandez in an upcoming trial next week. “If she doesn’t have the chip, she can’t access the library, cafeteria, she was told she couldn’t vote for the homecoming king and queen.

A "compliant citizenry" makes it easier to govern.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It is not that their efforts have value, because they don't.  KGW reports on a middle-class champions protesting at Walmart. It is unclear how protesting at Walmart brings about a middle class, and I suspect they don't either.

Then there are the less-achievers that protest against fur. Under the protection of 'free speech' they attempt to force others with different views not to change their views, but to deny them the ability to express their views. 'You believe what I believe or else."

Finally, it isn't Portland without the cop-hating mentality found in the likes of Cop Watch and Peaceful Response Coalition. But I give them credit for voicing their concerns in a peaceful manner willing to brave the elements to do so.

Apparently they have been demonstrating against the Afghanistan invasion every Friday night at the same place since November 2001. That effort has been lost on those like myself who haven't been aware.

But their focus seems to have shifted to protests about the FBI 'sting' involving the Christmas tree bomber suspect. Now the protesters want to free him. Like that is going to happen.

These protesters apparently have this theory that FBI's 'sting' effort was a phony terrorism plot "used as an excuse by Portland to de facto join the (FBI's) Joint Terrorism Task Force." Huh?

Oddly enough I share their concern that the FBI might well have wrongly manipulated him.  But it seems something akin to the hypnosis idea that people under hypnosis will not do something they would not do otherwise.

One wonders whether this alleged terrorist would have been just as easily manipulated by actual terrorists that the FBI were emulating? Isn't it all about an individual's responsibility for his or her actions? Didn't he have many opportunities to step away from the FBI's actions?

It is not about some phony plot to get the Portland police in the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The question may well be - but for the FBI's efforts would he have become a terrorist? And while we are at it - is this the effort we want the FBI to be engaged in?  The answer to both questions seems to be yes.

Susan Rice - the 'pushy woman' or comeuppance?

Susan Rice the United States' ambassador to the United Nations faces a rough road to succeed Hilary Clinton as the secretary of state. Two old white, and decidedly with a right wing tinge, Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have vowed to defeat the once expected nomination by the president.

At first I suspected race, but President Bush had his Rice who was a very competent secretary of state. But apparently she knew how to play with the big boys. Susan Rice doesn't. [Backed by Obama, sharp-tongued Susan Rice battles critics].

The vehicle to her overthrow is her comments relating to the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya. But even a cursory analysis demonstrates a lack of substance in the effort to fault her.  However, a good view of her inability to play nice is found in the comments by other U.N. diplomats.
"Diplomats on the 15-nation U.N. Security Council privately complain of Rice's aggressive negotiating tactics, describing her with terms like "undiplomatic" and "sometimes rather rude." They attributed some blunt language to Rice - "this is crap," "let's kill this" or "this is bullshit."
"She's got a sort of a cowboy-ish attitude," one Western diplomat said. "She has a tendency to treat other countries as mere (U.S.) subsidiaries."
The ugly American. Arguably she is getting her just desserts. It is not enough to be competent to succeed - getting along or at least not being abrasive is necessary in the long haul.

And while it might to easy to label her as 'pushy' but not male counterparts, people who are pushy, over-aggressive, male or female, that see themselves as God's gift - find themselves without supporters they need at the time it would benefit them the most.

Stepping on others on the way up the ladder of success has its comeuppance.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

That is it? Principal sexually abuses a student and his wrists are slapped?

"Michael Bremont was sentenced to 30 days in jail and five years’ supervised probation for sexually abusing a 17-year-old Central Linn student." Former Central Linn High School principal pleads no contest to sex abuse. Will he even spend 30 days in jail?

But see Former Redmond charter school director expected to draw 19 months for student sex abuse.

What happened?

It is a day of remembrance too.

"Thousands waited in the rain on November 22, 1963, to catch a glimpse of him and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy." [Dallas area prepares for 50th anniversary [2013] of Kennedy assassination].

See the New York Times front page for that day and for the day that Oswald was killed. It is easy to see how conspiracy theories were born. See the Wikipedia entry. There were thoughts too that Vice-president Johnson was involved. Of course Fidel Castro and the mafia were suspects too. The Warren Commission to investigate the assassination did little to eliminate the various theories.

And there were too those that doubted that Oswald could have made that shot, but see this [thanks to Jack Bog's Blog] cam set up at Dealey Plaza. Maybe it is the optics - but that doesn't look like a difficult shot.

Happy Thanksgiving!

It could be worse.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How did this FBI job applicant make it to the interview stage?

While being interviewed, and after failing the polygraph part of the interview, he admitted to having child pornography on his home computer. [FBI job applicant can't take back pornography admission - court]. One can assume that - but for the pornography - he was potential FBI material?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Elmo Puppeteer Resigns

Just when it appeared that he had gotten by the apparently false accusation of sexual relations with a minor, another filed suit. NPR doesn't provide enough details to make even a guess as to the legitimacy of the accusations. Details are lacking.

The New York Times tells us that the first accuser is 24. He has remained anonymous which in a decision to file a lawsuit reflect poorly on his credibility. It is told too that in the second case the 'abuse' occurred over a decade ago. Thus, there is the issue of veracity of the claims when so much time has passed. The fact that there was deep pockets - Sesame Workshop - also detracts from the credibility of the accusers.

Sesame Workshop chose not to believe the first accuser who subsequently recanted, although it is reported that he changed his mind. "Sesame Workshop said it took the allegation "very seriously" and had taken "immediate action," but after an investigation, which included interviews with Clash and his accuser, found the claims to be "unsubstantiated." [Elmo Actor Kevin Clash Resigns Amid Sex Allegation].

Whatever the outcome - Kevin Clash's career is finished. It will be more than a tragedy if the accusations are false. If so, the media's coverage of this will likely be sparse. Getting the truth out is not always a priority.

India - world's largest democracy. Democracy?

So called democracies are having a difficult time adjusting to democracy's expression of free speech. India is a prime example of government chilling of free speech via Internet eavesdropping. [Woman hits like on Facebook, gets arrested in India].

Take a peek at some of the cases where there has been arrests. A college student arrested for a Facebook status update and another for clicking "Like" on the update.  They had "criticized a general strike called by a political party." And there is more.

Someone was arrested because they complained on the police department Facebook page "that they [police] were not doing enough to find her stolen car; a cartoonist who posted work online protesting corruption scandals by the central government; and a professor [...] who merely forwarded an email with a cartoon that was critical of West Bengal chief minister . . . ."

Doesn't sound like a democracy - does it?

One can only imagine what is he thinking?

I am not very familiar with the proposed West Hayden Island annexation except to know that it involves many issues - the least of which is the environmental aspect. The mayor - he has a new proposal - is in a controlled spin attempting to push the annexation through before Xmas. [Running out of time and facing criticism, Portland Mayor Sam Adams outlines schedule for West Hayden Island annexation].

From my read of the situation it seems that it is only the mayor and the Port of Portland that is ready to toss aside the concerns of the environment and of the local communities.   The mayor says his "new proposal will include updated finances and his "best thinking" on the controversial plan."

But he has had 4 years to screw the pouch - why doesn't he just move on? In the read of the Oregonian article - it is clear the mayor has - typical of Portland development efforts - tried the 'participation' trick whereby a citizen's committee is formed to mimic the city hall line.

Yet this committee appears to have recognized that they have been used.
"Unfortunately, it seems as though we are going to end up with the (the committee's) 'recommendations' being nothing more than letters from each ... member and a long list of straw poll votes on questions that are almost always undetailed, lacking context or relationships with other votes, and without cost figure(s)." [Committee member Chris Hathaway].
One wonders if the mayor's  new job will come about or be enhanced if he continues to push the Port's objective. It is easy to doubt this mayor's sincerity and creditably. But to give the mayor some credit - he seems to work better under direction and supervision. His time working for Mayor Katz is an example.
Otherwise he is a loose cannon without the ability to form cogent thoughts.

One can only hope - that is all Portlanders have at times - that the other council members who will be with us next year will turn a blind eye and deaf ears to the mayor and his proposal which conveniently enough hasn't been formulated for public review. He wouldn't want anyone to be informed.

An excellent perspective, albeit biased, is that of the Audubon Society of Portland.
"West Hayden Island is one of Portland's most important natural areas. Its 826 acres of bottomland hardwood forest, wetlands, meadows, floodplains and shallow water habitat near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers provide irreplaceable habitat for federally listed salmon and imperiled bird, bat and amphibian species.
It is an amazing place where you can see nesting bald eagles and rapidly disappearing species like pileated woodpeckers and western meadowlarks. It is located next to one of the largest manufactured-home, affordable-housing communities in Oregon.
However, the Port wants to take 300 acres and convert them to a marine industrial port facility that isn't needed and which will irrevocably harm the environment and the local community. The development will clear-cut the heart out of the wildlife area and leave behind fragmented, disturbed, edge habitat as well as significantly increased pollution, increased traffic congestion, and a permanently damaged local community."
Annexation - what is in it for Portlanders?

Treadmill desks - can there be more of an ill-conceived concept?

Treadmill desks might be the next office health trend. Think hamster.

Oxymoron: Syrian peace conference hosted by Iran

And get this: "Under the motto “No to violence, yes to democracy,” an estimated 200 Syrian and regional politicians gathered in Tehran on Sunday to discuss a possible end to the violence that has engulfed Syria since March 2011." Iran hosts Syrian peace conference.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Top generals over-valued

I had somewhat facetiously noted that Paula Broadwell did us a favor by unintentionally exposing the scandal surrounding herself and Petraeus. But the scandal is not so much about sex - it is about the lifestyles of these top military commanders that stand in stark contrast to the lifestyles of the men and women that actually prosecute the war. The ones that are actually the heroes.

From the New York Times A Phony Hero for a Phony War a biting assessment:
"Though strutting military peacocks go back to Alexander’s time, our first was MacArthur, who seemed at times to care more about how much gold braid decorated the brim of his cap than he did about how many bodies he left on beachheads across the Pacific. Next came Westmoreland, with his starched fatigues in Vietnam. In our time, Gen. David H. Petraeus has set the bar high. Never has so much beribboned finery decorated a general’s uniform since Al Haig passed through the sally ports of West Point on his way to the White House."
"The commanders who lead the nation’s military services and those who oversee troops around the world enjoy an array of perquisites befitting a billionaire, including executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aides to carry their bags, press their uniforms and track their schedules in 10-minute increments. Their food is prepared by gourmet chefs. If they want music with their dinner parties, their staff can summon a string quartet or a choir."
This country doesn't need the likes of Patraeus and Allen nor the groupies like Broadwell and the Tampa twins.

Both of the news stories above provide excellent insight into these over-valued men who have become consumed by their self-importance.

Ikea making a buck sans ethics

It is a story about using forced labor in East Germany in the 80s (before the fall of the wall) to produce components for products for companies like Ikea. [Ikea Admits Use of Forced Labor in the 1980s]. Think outsourcing.

Ikea wasn't the only company - they are just the headliner. Apparently this use of forced labor wasn't just some isolated incident. And, it is much more of a story than the use of prison labor - much of this labor consisted of political prisoners. Political prisoners were once aplenty in East Germany.

Not only is there political and publicity fallout for these companies like Ikea - there is the issue of compensation. It was "said that more needs to be done for the victims, many of whom today live under worse circumstances than their former tormentors." [Hugo Diederich, the chairman of the Association of Victims of Stalinism].

Outsourcing to save a buck (really pennies) carries large risks. Many countries don't share American values. Child labor, prison labor, unacceptable working conditions and pay may make the bottom line look better - but when these conditions are shown the light of day - the companies rightfully pay the price.

Heady days of journalism: WWII reporter who defied military censorship

It is the story of  Ed Kennedy who as a reporter in WWII scooped the world on reporting the actual day of the Nazi surrender. Mr. Kennedy heard a German broadcast of the surrender. He was able to bypass the censorship to report it. As might be expected then and now - he had his credentials revoked, was kicked out of Europe and fired from Associated Press. [Posthumous Pulitzer: Reporter broke news of WWII end, may now be honored, Oregon daughter says].

To appease Joe Stalin, the military and political censors wanted "to keep the story of the war's end under wraps until Soviet Union dictator Josef Stalin could stage a phony Nazi surrender in Berlin the following day." 

It is a great story with an Oregon connection - his daughter lives here. Early this year, Louisiana State University Press has published Kennedy's memoir, "Ed Kennedy's War: V-E Day, Censorship and the Associated Press."  That publication coincided with AP's  apology for the firing - better late than never.  And, there is a movement for "posthumous special citation for journalism from the Pulitzer Prize board this April."

But here is the take away: "Kennedy's story underscores for journalists and journalism students 'the absolute importance of seeking the truth and getting it out.'" [Journalist Ray March].

Seeking the truth and getting it out - what a novel concept that.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

PPS' failure to apply for federal grant - why are so many so quiet?

Frankly it seems that leadership from all walks ought to be chiming in. Of course the fear of the teachers union' wrath (no money for political campaigns) silences the politicos. But at least the Portland Business Alliance stood up to be counted. [Portland Business Alliance criticizes Portland Public Schools for failure to apply to federal grant].

And where is the Oregonian editorial?

Idaho's teacher of the year

Arguably as a motivation technique the teacher allowed "the class chose a punishment: Students who failed to meet the [reading]  goal could either stay inside at recess until it was met, or have their faces written on by classmates who met the goals." [Idaho 4th-graders who failed reading goals had faces scribbled on].

One "10-year-old [...] came home from school Nov. 5 with his entire face — including his eyelids — scribbled on with green, red and purple markers." Needless to say this kid was humiliated. What kind of teacher lets the class determine punishment? And what kind of teacher punishes a student for his or her failure to pass the test?

Take a look at Great Schools rating (4 out of 10) of this particular school. Then peek at the reading test scores for this class. The state average for Reading was 87% in 2011, this class - 77%. It is interesting that the 3rd grade met the state average score and neither the 4th or 5th grade did.

Nice bonus for Ruiz

She will be Adams chief of staff for a month - but it will be a well-paid month. Somewhere around an extra $3,000 in the paycheck. One suspects too there are some severance benefits. Severance because it is unlikely she will be continuing in the Hales administration. [Mayor Sam Adams will get a new chief of staff for last month].

Journalists that cross over to the dark side.

But then you wouldn't be a Republican

The Republicans desperately seeking answers (in Las Vegas) for their failure to elect their man - even though he was their reluctant choice. But as yet - they haven't stood and looked long enough in the mirror.

One piece of advice that came close came from Bill Bennett, a politico from the Reagan era: "You can articulate your opposition for example to same-sex marriage, [b]ut you can do it in a dignified way, in the right language, in a forceful way that shows you're not a bigot or intolerant." And I would add - even though you are.

One wonders why all this good advice was absent in the campaign? It seemed that the Republican Party sought their marching orders from the likes of Limbaugh and Fox News.  A moderate approach would have likely fielded a better candidate with an election win. Many Democrats were looking elsewhere to show their dissatisfaction - Republicans just wouldn't accommodate them.

Jill Kelley doesn't know when to shut up

Jill Kelley Claims 'Threats' in Email to Mayor.

Jill Kelley emails: Petraeus, Allen asked me to help silence 'Bubba the Love Sponge' (via Jack Bog's Blog)

This is who our top generals trust with national security issues - a socialite (wink, wink, nod, nod). Our military generals may be a tad bit over-valued. Maybe they ought to stick to being military personnel and remember that they are subject to civilian command and oversight.

Of course we can't forget about the FBI shirtless agent who "suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama." [F.B.I. Inquiry Into E-Mails Raises Questions on Motives]. But see the report that "his representatives [...] disputed reports that he sought out lawmakers for political reasons or because he thought the agency was stalling the investigation to protect President Obama's reelection bid." [Details emerge about 'shirtless FBI agent' in Petraeus scandal]. 


Friday, November 16, 2012

Will election night's loser be gracious or grudging?

Before the election results the Washington Monthly asked that question. At first, it seemed that Romney might be a gracious loser, but no - he is the grudging loser. Romney blames 'gifts' on election loss. A mark of a person is how he or she loses. 

According to Romney in a conference call with fundraisers and donors,  it was Obama's gifts to the young voters and minorities that cost him the election. What gifts? It was "health coverage, contraceptive coverage in health insurance, [and] forgiveness of interest on college loans."

Bobby Jindal says: 'Wrong!"  “No, I think that’s absolutely wrong."  He said " it's divisive to cite social policies that help young people and minorities."
"The Republicans need to go after every single vote and stop dividing American voters.  And, “we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children an opportunity to be able to get a great education. …" [Jindal is the Republican governor of Louisiana.]
Already they are positioning for 2016.

The Vestas job con

December 1, 2008. "Portland city leaders have offered wind-power giant Vestas Wind Systems $12.5 million in cash incentives to add 850 white-collar jobs in Portland and build a $250 million North American headquarters here, Mayor-elect Sam Adams said." [Portland offers $12.5 million to woo Vestas Wind Systems].

"Under the deal, Vestas would grow to 1,200 workers and into a new real estate development that's at least 400,000 square feet. The company is considering a building with the highest environmental rating possible, a platinum grade from the U.S. Green Building Council. The building could open by late 2011, Adams said." [Portland offers $12.5 million to woo Vestas Wind Systems].

August 18, 2010. "Vestas’ decision to transform the historic Meier & Frank Depot Building, 1417 N.W. Everett St., into its North American headquarters offers strong evidence the private sector is on the brink of a revival." [Vestas lease may revive office market].

"Vestas employs about 400 at four locations in downtown Portland. The new quarters will consolidate the team and allow it to eventually grow to as many as 600 workers." [...] "Vestas is expected to move in the first quarter of 2012." [Vestas lease may revive office market].

November 14, 2012. "Today, the company says it has fewer than 300 workers, and earlier this month it announced plans to cut another 2,000 jobs worldwide. [link in original]"  [Vestas long ago surpassed job requirements for state loan].

Part of the deal, the con, or so it was presented - was that the money was conditioned on creation of jobs.  But the jobs had been back dated, so Vestas is (was already at the time of the deal) off the hook.

"Marc Zolton [the state’s economic development division sokeperson] said Vestas fulfilled its job-
creation obligation on Sept. 30, 2010 — less than a month after the company first announced plans for its project."

"Zolton said the state’s deal required Vestas to create those new jobs within a five-year period dating back to when the state began negotiations with the company. In this case, the start date was October 1, 2008."

Not only was there a con about the job creation - so too about building a headquarters. Vestas didn't, and apparently never intended to do so, build a headquarters - it merely agreed to lease the property in the Pearl. Public dollars paid for the Gerding Edlen building at NW 14th and NW Everett - the once vacant Meier and Frank warehouse in the Pearl. [See my post for details.]

This post was inspired by Jack Bog's Blog wherein he accurately states:
"So much of what the public was told about this deal was false and misleading. First of all, the city and state governments made it sound as though the sweetheart financing was being given to Vestas. It wasn't until much later that it was revealed that the subsidy actually went to Mark Edlen, Vestas's landlord, who has surely surpassed Homer Williams as the all-time biggest single fleecer of the Portland public treasury."
The media continues to be a disservice to Portlanders and Oregonians with its regurgitation of city press releases without even a pause for a thought.

Worse yet city employees and political leadership instead of representing the best interests of the city's - represent only their self-interest. It is difficult not to imagine the existence of payoffs, maybe not in cold cash - but the equivalent.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The reality show continues

Ordinarily it is not worth two hoots whether someone has an affair. It personal and private, and more often than not it affects a small immediate group. A lot of hurt, maybe wounds that never heal, but it is localized. But this affair exposed to the world is something different.

It is different in that because it involves the squeaky clean, and it is different because it has become humorous. I am really getting some chuckles out of the continuing saga. Petraeus had a roll in the hay with his biographer Paula Broadwell, probably brought about by her push. That doesn't let him off the hook - but it puts her on the hook with him. And along the way all kinds of characters come into view. The shirtless FBI agent is one of many.

Both Broadwell and Patraeus have hurt their families and friends beyond estimation. Neither are young people who might be given a free pass. Both had established marriages, families and careers; and on the Patraeus side it was the prized long-term marriage and career.

City of Portland Part I Crime Stats Through October 27

See the Part 1 file here. Crime is having a banner year - increasing in nearly every category as compared to last year. Check in on the flashalert for the intervening crime. Robberies and assaults seem out of control. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

These are our best? Really?

General Petraeus (Army) and General Allen (Marines) seem to be part of  a TV sitcom much like a reality show. A group of people seemed to have found themselves exposed by the petulance of one Paula Broadwell.

A fun read, and informing too, are these articles. The New York Times - F.B.I. Inquiry Into E-Mails Raises Questions on Motives.  The Washington Post has the Allen part - Scandal probe ensnares commander of U.S., NATO troops in Afghanistan.  And NPR provides a handy guide - Petraeus Affair Widens: Who's Who & What's What? Here's A Guide.

At first it was two - Petraeus and his biographer Broadwell. Then it spread to include Allen and Jill Kelly, a 'friend' of the Patraeuses. And it now seems to include an FBI agent (he sent a shirtless photo of himself to Kelly) that one would guess is out of his league. Don't you just wonder what is an FBI agent, apparently not far up the ladder, is doing sending photos of himself to Kelly?

So far it seems nothing more than tawdry affair, i.e., national security doesn't seem to have been compromised. But there are hints of national security issues in the stories. E.g., the New York Times relates that one of the emails that Broadwell sent to Kelly: ". . . the author of the e-mails [...] seemed to have an insider’s knowledge of the C.I.A. director’s activities. " [NY Times].

It is being described as cyber-stalking, but I am not so sure.  This started out as one woman becoming jealous of another who was perceived as being too flirtatious with'her man' Petraeus because Ms. Kelley "touch[ed] Mr. Petraeus inappropriately under a dinner table." And, not only did Broadwell send emails to Jill Kelly, but also sent at least one to General Allen.

Kelly, it can be argued, knew that Broadwell was the author. She thought that she would put fear in the heart of Broadwell by having her over friendly FBI agent investigate. Apparently he followed procedure and submitted the complaint to the appropriate agents within the FBI.

But his role became a 'whistle-blower.' He somehow became convinced that the investigation had been stalled because of President Obama. Really! He then passes information to Representative Eric Cantor's office.

Little did Kelly realize (apparently) that her complaint would lead to an examination of her emails. Accordingly, "the FBI has uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of documents — most of them e-mails — that contain “potentially inappropriate” communication between [General] Allen and Jill Kelley." [Washington Post].

General Allen's role in all of this may well be innocent, but the story has a decadent sense to it. In the rubric of 'good ole southern boy,' "Allen sometimes used words such as “sweetheart”  [in his emails] to refer to her [Kelley] . . . ." But a senior official said "that Allen, who was raised in Virginia, employed that language as a term of platonic friendship, not romantic interest." [Washington Post].

It is the context. There is some evidence that Southerners use the term "sweetheart" without any romantic intent. But usually it is Southern women using the term. E.g., it would not be uncommon for a waitress to call a customer sweetheart. But, Southern men using that term more often than not have a demeaning intent. One wonders just how the general addresses his female counterparts and officers under his command?

The Washington Post, and others, so far see no national security issues, but it rightly "calls into question the personal behavior of two of the U.S. military’s highest-ranking and most respected figures, who apparently ignored concerns about the highly sensitive nature of their positions as they embraced personal relationships with younger women who were not their wives."

Oh what a tangled web Broadwell and Kelly have weaved.

Without Fear or Favor

Journalism is alive at the New York Times.  It matters not that their target is the NY Times new CEO Mark Thompson. He was the former director general of the BBC. The present director general and others have stepped down. [Ghastly mess' at BBC: Ex-chief's pay questioned, more quit amid sex scandal].

The  BBC is having their Catholic Church moment.  Think Jimmy Savile story, then think BBC's controversial decision not to air a program that investigated child sexual abuse by Savile, finally think BBC's controversial show that "aired false child sex abuse allegations against a former politician." [Ghastly mess' at BBC].

It seems that Mark Thompson was in charge when the show about Savile was dropped. Plausible deniability:
"Thompson, the new CEO of the New York Times, said he did not know about the nature of the investigation by "Newsnight" into Savile, and had no involvement in the decision to drop the report, which occurred while he was director general." [Ghastly mess' at BBC].
The Jimmy Savile story is major.
"The BBC faces police and other investigations into claims that hundreds of people, some as young as 12, were sexually abused over the course of decades by one of their top personalities, the late Jimmy Savile."
Thompson is one of many that will ultimately be drawn into the investigation. He and other top BBC management people can be expected to eschew the 'buck stops here' management approach. They can be expected to adopt the Sargent Schultz  (or the three monkeys) defense - "I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!"

One wonders whether reporters at other newspapers whether large or small would take on their CEO. See this example from the Washington Post:
"Times financial columnist Joe Nocera made the point even more bluntly a few days later: “Given the seriousness of sexual abuse allegations — look at what it did to Penn State — you would think that Thompson and his underlings would immediately want to get to the bottom of it. But, again, they did nothing. Thompson winds up appearing willfully ignorant. . . . It also makes you wonder what kind of chief executive he’d be at The Times.
Journalism: “stays true, always, to the principle of [reporting] Without Fear or Favor.” [Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the New York Times company’s chairman.]

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Obama honors sacrifice made by nation's veterans

"President Barack Obama paid tribute at a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to "the heroes over the generations who have served this country of ours with distinction." [Obama honors sacrifice made by nation's veterans].

Obama: The "Tomb of the Unknowns was intended to remember every service member who has worn a uniform and served the nation." I was fortunate to have spent my four years of active service during a time of relative peace. It is clear that I received more out of my four years than my country received.

With my service training I was able to pursue a decent computer career. With the GI Bill I attended college. Now I receive medical care from the VA. I am proud of my service time, but I far more appreciate the service of  today's men and women who truly sacrifice much to serve their country. They have given far more than this country will give back.

Feet of clay

One always hears that men think with their penis, but women have shown that they too think with what is between their legs. If men do it it - it is men being men unable to control their testosterone driven sexual needs. When women do it - it is love.

The "it" was brought to light again when the good General Petraeus was unexpectedly exposed as having an affair, maybe two. [F.B.I. Said to Have Stumbled Into News of Petraeus Affair]. So sexual needs has brought down another very bright and articulate person. [One wonders what comments General Petraeus might have had about President Clinton].

But it is also bringing down a very bright and articulate woman shades of Lisa Nowak. Nowak was the  diaper wearing astronaut that drove 900 miles to confront another who she thought was competing with her for another astronaut. Apparently, in this case the confrontation was via emails.

In the Petraeus case it appears that Mrs. Broadwell, yes she is married too, sent harassing emails to another woman not yet named. Invoking cybercrime, she notified the FBI. It was this that led to the FBI's accidental exposure of Petraeus's affair. Her relationship to the general is unknown, or at least unpublished. We are left to wait for the next installment to find out the who, what and when.

Of course the undoing of relationships and reputations, except maybe in France and Italy, because of sexual dalliances has been documented throughout the ages - yet it is always intriguing that rational people act so irrationally.

And it is not always men. Women prove themselves just as capable of screwing things up as men. And when, as in this case, two very bright and articulate people with much to lose act irrationally - the consequences are dire.

Arguably, we in the US make too much of these affairs. They shouldn't take anything away from the good that these 'fallen' have done or will do in their lives. While the effects in this case appear to be personal and private, it raises concerns because of Petraeus's position as head of the CIA. [See Why David Petraeus’s Gmail account is a national security issue.]

People in such high profile positions of public trust need to be especially watchful that their conduct doesn't place them in conflicted situations. [See With Paula Broadwell, Gen. David Petraeus let his guard down.] Blackmail is the usual specter. Thankfully, there appears to be nothing to see here - so we need to move on. And surely in another month, or less, the media will be on to something else.

Humans are frail creatures with feet of clay.