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Community Comment

Archive for April 2010

Napolitano to the rescue…

Good evening, Netizens…


US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano answers a question during a press conference on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 29. President Barack Obama has ordered several senior cabinet members to Louisiana, where on Friday Napolitano and others were to conduct an aerial inspection of the affected areas.


The scope of the disaster still unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana Coastline is hard to imagine. In this picture US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano answers a question during a press conference on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 29. President Barack Obama has ordered several senior cabinet members to Louisiana, where on Friday Napolitano and others were to conduct an aerial inspection of the affected areas. Isn’t that a bit too little, too late?


When members of the Coast Guard, British Petroleum and various other downhole companies striving to stem the leakage from where the ocean-going deepwater drilling rig Deepwater Horizon suffered a blowout, burned and sank 50 miles out from the coast. No one, to date, has been able to absolutely define how many gallons of light crude oil have already leaked into the ocean, nor how soon the leakage can be stopped.


The only certainty, it seems, is that the light crude has already begun arriving in the fragile ecosystems along the Louisiana coast and preliminary cost estimates to undo the ecological disaster could easily exceed that of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.


The unanswered questions are (1) how did the blowout occur, (2) how can the estimated 5000 gallons per day of light crude be stopped from flowing and (3) how can similar disasters of this type be prevented in offshore drilling? The unasked question, of course, is could this have been sabotage?


Until such time as these questions can be answered, President Obama has ordered all offshore drilling operations stopped and rightly so.


Thus far Sarah Palin, who is quoted as uttering “Drill, baby, drill” in favor of offshore drilling, has yet to make any public statement how she views this unspeakable disaster.


Dave

Is this Noah’s Ark?

 Good morning, Netizens…


There are memories in our lives which are embedded in and become a part of our lives. Among some of those memories are my limited time studying theology decades and decades ago. Despite having “drifted” from my roots in Protestant religion through a wide variety of disciplines and religious beliefs, the tale of the Ark still remains a part of my memories cherished and held for all these years.


So, having said that, if you believe in that tale perhaps this next bit of lore may find a certain degree of acceptance in your lives. If not, we simply move on. A group of fundamentalist Christians believe they have found what they believe are the remains of Noah’s Ark atop the venerable Mount Ararat. Could it be? The proclamations have been made before, but no one has yet to conclusively prove it. This picture released by the evangelical group claims to show one of the explorers examining part of a structure which they claim might prove the existence of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat. There are no external images of the site and the Hong Kong-based group refuse to say precisely where they made their discovery until the Turkish government designate it an archaeological site.


Even so, the explorers who say they found seven large wooden compartments beneath snow and volcanic debris near the peak of Mount Ararat can be forgiven their excitement.

‘It’s not 100 per cent that it is Noah’s Ark, but we think it is 99.9 per cent that this is it,’ said Yeung Wing-cheung, a filmmaker working with the 15-strong team of fundamentalist Christians exploring the Turkish mountain. The radio carbon dating of the wood is dead-on to be the approximate time frame of Noah’s Ark.

In this picture released by the evangelical group, they claim to show one of the explorers examining part of a structure which they claim might prove the existence of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat. There are no external images of the site and the Hong Kong-based group refuse to say precisely where they made their discovery until the Turkish government designate it an archaeological site.


Granted, there are a lot of historians who state emphatically there are no historical precedents which would prove their beliefs. However, there are more pictures of the site, including satellite imagery, that purport to prove their claim. One of the things missing are, of course, the animal excrement from all that time spent bobbing on the water.


If you want more information, go to http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1269165/Noahs-Ark-remains-discovered-mountain-Turkey.html and read the entire press release for yourselves.


Dave

A Great One has fallen…

Good morning, Netizens…


Allison Stacey Cowles, activist, and matriarch of the family that owns the Spokesman-Review, died Sunday morning at the age of 75 of pancreatic cancer. Allison Cowles lived in Spokane for 36 years, and raised two children, (William) Stacey Cowles and Elizabeth A. (Betsy) Cowles who rose to become President and Chairwoman respectively of the Cowles Publishing Company in their adulthood.


A full history of her long and illustrious life was written by Jim Kershner at http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/25/allison-cowles-dies-75/, and of her marriages to William H. Cowles III and in 1996 William (Punch) Sulzberger.


She was a gracious, dominant social and political leader in Spokane, and the number of contributions she gave to Spokane are incredible and lengthy.


I only met Allison Cowles once in passing in my life, and she formed a vivid image that has lasted all these years. She shined a beacon of goodness and light into life, and should always be remembered with gentle prayers and and kindest thoughts. Rest in peace, Allison.


Dave

Revisiting the distant past…

 Good morning, Netizens…


There is something special about waking up before the dawn. It is a harbinger of old times, nearly forgotten, when I used to wake up in a sleeper before dawn and crawl behind the wheel of an over-the-road tractor trailer to drive another 14-16 hours. A few years ago, I drove a rental car to Nebraska from Spokane, and rediscovered a small truck stop I once loved East of Torrington, Wyoming just across the Nebraska State Line. It looked exactly the same as it did twenty-some years ago; the food was just as delicious. The only difference was that instead of driving another 14 hours, after breakfast, I went to sleep and let my wife take over the driving. Hours later, I awoke facing the Penis of the Plains, AKA the State Capitol Building in Lincoln. That, too, is another story. One tends to collect such things after driving long-haul trucks, then revisiting the distant past. 


Dave

Immigration law and disorder…

 Good evening, Netizens…


No matter which side of the political equation you support regarding the new Arizona State law regarding illegal immigrants in that state the new law signed by Arizona State Governor Jan Brewer leaves a great deal to be desired, and that is putting it mildly.


On one hand, you have the virtual army of illegal Mexican immigrants, drug dealers, felons and assorted fiends all moving across the border surreptitiously; some 460,000 illegals live in the state, according to the state government. Despite the state’s lackluster attempts at slowing this flood of humanity, it still costs state taxpayers millions each year. That doesn’t include the welfare roles, criminal enterprises, health care and education costs.


On the other hand, you have the absurdity of the new law itself. Under that law, any person with brown skin can be pulled over by law enforcement at any time and forced to prove they are in the United States legally. It also requires local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants; allows lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws; and makes it illegal to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.


Perhaps the strangest, most absurd claim made about the new law is that the State of Arizona’s government assertion they will avoid racism and police will not use racial profiling in how and when they make arrests. Okay, you’re brown, Hispanic; you’re a suspect.


I never forgot an incident that took place approximately 30 years ago in my life. I had just driven across the New Mexico-Arizona state line in a near-blizzard when I encountered a car stranded in the ditch. Simply because at that hour of the night, just before dawn, with the frigid temperature of the high desert, I stopped to see if they needed help. I was surprised to discover all four occupants were illegal migrant workers heading north in search of jobs, while in the back seat a woman was in labor, her pains coming in three minute segments. My Spanish at that time was none too good, but we somehow managed to attach a heavy chain on the back of the car and I pulled it out of the snow bank, back onto the road. The mother gave birth there, beside the road, and thus her newborn son was a legal US citizen. By the time the sun rose they were already back on the road, heading north in search of the American dream, as if nothing happened.


Few people who live outside the Southwest United States have any concept of life in the desert, nor of the cultures that have learned to migrate across it and survive there. It is always a harsh land, arrogant in how it controls the lives of all that attempt to exist there. History teaches us with its unflinching eye that long before the white race claimed this strange land of cactus and sand, it was owned and tamed by the same brown people whom we now tell not to enter illegally.


While the new law is absurd, the people of Arizona can no longer tolerate the massive social and criminal problems illegal immigrants create.


Dave

Depose King Joe?

Good morning, Netizens…


All I have to do is mention the name King Joe and nearly three-quarters of the people reading this already know of whom I speak, and perhaps half have already witnessed one of King Joe’s acidic tirades from his throne atop the dais of the City Council chamber. However, Joe Shogan is a known (some say a feared) factor when it comes to dealing with the City Council when it comes to public input.


However Spokesman’s Shawn Vestal does a pretty good job of portraying Joe in a column this morning at http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/23/at-council-joe-does-it-his-way/ and he doesn’t mince a lot of words about it. That sort of surprises me, because I never heard anyone directly take on Joe Shogan in print before, but that wouldn’t stop me from crying out my huzzahs, either.


There was a time not that many years ago when the Public Input sessions during the City Council meetings were interesting. People from a broad range of opinions, likes and dislikes, and a plethora of political affiliations all waited in line to speak their piece before the Council. Some of these people came better-prepared than most of the Council members.


Who could forget George McGrath waving the documents he had acquired from the City of Spokane railing about the potential long-term costs of River Park Square to the taxpayers? As the history turned out, George was spot-on, and those of us who remember those days fondly will ever forget George for that.


Will anyone remember King Joe as anything other than a tyrannical popinjay lawyer who has tossed more citizens out of his City Council chambers than anyone in history? Will history reflect, instead, that King Joe was a kindly, benevolent Council President who treated citizens with the respect and the dignity they deserve? Probably not.


In my opinion, King Joe needs a new job. There is a lot of corruption and graft in City Hall these days, and the citizens should have the right to object.


Depose King Joe. He is an embarrassment to Spokane.


Dave

SEC to save the day…

Good morning, Netizens…


In this morning’s cartoon, the Seattle-PI’s David Horsey contributes a humorous glance at Goldman-Sachs’ current situation, with the SEC finally throwing a bit of light into the dark corner from whence Goldman helped destroy America’s economy.


Of course the politics of the time is that hardly anyone expects that Goldman-Sachs will ever be fined or serve a day of jail time, nor the SEC for allowing it to happen. My bet is that lots of public hearings will be held at the highest levels of government, with a gargantuan number of ominous-sounding statements by various elected officials, but no punitive damages assessed.


However, I never saw lady US Economy look so good before. Most of the time recently the US Economy more-closely resembles a Bag Lady working the dumpsters behind the Denny’s Restaurant looking for a cast-off meal.


Unfortunately the numbers of dumpster divers working the City over these spring mornings are more common than you might think, and you can bet the SEC doesn’t give a rat’s patoot about them. In ways too subtle to conceive, they are still paying for SEC’s gaffes.


Of course, your opinion may differ.


Dave

No on the EMS Levy,EMR,Fire Department

Good morning Netizens…


One might ask why a doddering old goat like me would be sitting here before the endless maw of the keyboard on an otherwise spectacular spring morning with temperatures nearly 60 degrees. I have been contemplating Larry Shook’s excellent piece of journalism, http://larryshook.com/2010/04/12/fire-and-fraud-in-spokane/ and then doing a modest amount of research to validate everything associated with the EMS Levy about to be submitted to the voters in a short time.


This is about fraud in Spokane’s Fire Department and American Medical Response
Ambulance, and that is just a smaller part of the problem. We haven’t even touched on the debts of River Park Square.


During former Mayor Dennis Hession’s term of office American Medical Response Ambulance Service (AMR) got caught gouging Spokane’s ambulance users to such an extent, the city was entitled to levy fines of $80 million against the company. Instead, Hession fined the company a tenth of a percent of that amount, $80,000. I had blithely assumed until now that lawsuit had been paid, but Shook’s article asserts that the class action lawsuit is still not paid.


But not only is the fraud with which AMR infects Spokane’s fire service a fiscal rip-off, it’s a physical killer. According to a study comparing emergency ambulance services in Seattle and Spokane the survival rate for “code call” emergencies in Seattle is 45%, they say. In Spokane, it is 8%.


When somebody calls for an ambulance in Spokane, the first sign of help you see is a big fire truck, sirens and lights blazing away. They’re going to save a life. It is just a big farce. The firemen stand around until AMR arrives and hauls you off to the hospital. Maybe they will administer oxygen; maybe not. Based upon my experience with AMR, the chances are it probably will be the wrong hospital.


During a heart attack several years ago, I was hauled unceremoniously by AMR from place to place like a slab of meat for a heart Catheterization. First I went from Holy Family to Deaconess, but the cardiac table at Deaconess wasn’t big enough for my portly fatbody. Eventually I was billed for a third ambulance ride to Sacred Heart where the Catheterization was eventually performed. AMR charged for three rides for that, you know, and three hospital bills.


I never rode in an AMR ambulance again. My next heart attack I rode in a friend’s pickup truck at nearly 90 miles per hour. To Hell with AMR. To Hell with the EMS Levy. I don’t like paying for the same service twice.


Dave



Volcano in Iceland causes chaos…

Good morning, Netizens…


When the Eyjafjallajokull (ay-yah-FYAH’-plah-yer-kuh-duhl) volcano in Iceland first began erupting last Wednesday, hardly anyone in the United States and various other countries gave it much thought. We’ve had our own earthquakes and volcanoes here in the States so why would we, as a general rule, become obsessed with a volcano in Iceland whose name only few Americans can spell, much less pronounce?


The reasons are many because the implications of this eruption are wide-reaching. Air travel throughout major portions of Europe, portions of Russia and Scandinavia are all but shut down. Upcoming plane flights are being cancelled into and out of England, France and other European countries, leaving travelers stranded and creating economic and social chaos throughout the area.


However, the worst news may yet to come, because this particular volcano has a previous history of long-lived eruptions. According to the Associated Press in 1821 the Eyjafjallajokull volcano managed to erupt for a year nonstop. Can you imagine the chaos created by shutting down Heathrow International Airport in England for a year? Stranger things have happened.


At last report the volcano shows no signs of lessening the ash cloud that currently reaches well into Europe. Some limited air travel is still taking place, but the European air navigation safety agency Eurocontrol says that only some 5,000 flights will take place in Europe on Saturday compared to 22,000 in normal circumstances. On Friday, U.S. airlines canceled 280 of the more than 330 trans-Atlantic flights of a normal day. This is costing the airline industry approximately $200 million per day.


As usual, all we can do is wait for Mother Nature to conclude what she has started.


Dave

Otto Zehm vindicated at last?

Good morning, Netizens…


First, before I revisit the sordid tale of how Otto Zehm was killed by the Spokane Police Department, I’m going to point you in a direction which I feel everyone needs to read. First, browse to http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/15/feds-testimony-altered/?documents and realizing that it is a large PDF document and because it will take a considerable amount of time to digest, brace yourself and download the PDF file to your computer.


While you are at it, you might also read Thomas Clouse’s excellent article in the Spokesman relating to what we, prior to this time, have suspected but lacking evidence, could never prove. Browse to http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/15/feds-testimony-altered/ and take out your notebooks. There is a lot to be digested here.


Karl Thompson notwithstanding, there are a well-known cast of miscreants in the story listed above and especially in the PDF file. There are allegations of trickery, deception, outright lying and altered public records, and these are allegedly just the members of the Spokane Police Department. Then there is that despicable Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi, of whom it is alleged he directly ignored repeated attempts to obtain public records and perhaps may have even conspired with others to thwart the federal grand jury investigation. Read the PDF. It gets worse than that.


According to preliminary findings, there was no allegations of aggressive behavior shown by Otto Zehm against police. However, there is ample proof on the Zip Trip videotapes that police beat the crap out of Otto Zehm while he attempted to protect his head and face from repeated blows with a 2 liter Pepsi bottle. All he wanted was a candy bar and a bottle of pop. Instead he ended up dead.


Kudos to Mr. Clouse for going with this controversial story and to Jeanie for advising me while I was away at work. This all makes me even more hungry for the truth once the Grand Jury returns with an opinion.


Rest in Peace, Otto. At least., based upon the information we now have, you might actually have a chance at the justice you so richly deserve.


Dave

From the Headlines re Otto Zhem

As I brought in the paper this morning, the first thing I see is the headline: “Zehm grand jury to hear evidence police changed testimony” (by Thomas Clouse).  http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/15/feds-testimony-altered/

When I first read about this incident, my initial thought was that something was fishy in the two women’s statements.  I thought, and I think I’m correct, that they assumed Zehm was annoyingly happy and pesty.  The cops assumed the pretty young women were being hit on and they didn’t like it and so the cops were going to “protect” these women and take care of this character.  I felt that the cops had pre-assessed Zehm has a criminal to be taken down hard.

In the end - they screwed up horribly.  And now we’re talking about cover up and is this a surprise to any of us??? 

Otto Zehm was the epitome of an innocent person, a child-like sweet individual.  Would any one of us acted just exactly as he did if we were suddenly attacked by officers who we would normally have trusted?  Can you imagine the incredulous fear he felt?

I am so sick of this.

~Jeanie~

At the fence wanting in?

Good morning, Netizens…


The nutcase at the fence


While it appears cartoonist David Horsey hit the nail on the head on this caricature of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, much the same could be said for an entire cadre of shadowy terrorist organizations around the world, each of which are, like Iran, at the fence aspiring to obtain nuclear technology capable of building a bomb.


Perhaps Ahmadinejad is much closer to obtaining nuclear weapons than we may believe or know. Of course, I might be wrong.


Either way, he is at the fence looking in on the nuclear disarmament talks, perhaps wanting in, but probably not if he is successful at building a bomb. After all the work and the sanctions against his country, why would he want to disarm?


Dave

Flexible, not straight, straws…

Good morning, Netizens…


I promised myself after the last go-round that I would leave Sarah Palin alone for awhile despite the fact every time we mention her name everyone jumps on it. However, the news from California this morning and late yesterday simply precludes ignoring her.


She has a speaking contract with California State University’s Stanislaus Foundation, portions of which were leaked to the news media yesterday. The real issue, according to California State Senator Leland Yee, is the University falls under public disclosure laws, despite the fact the contract contains a non-disclosure agreement.


Having said that, some of the technical statements enclosed in the contract are:


The contract detailed the former Alaska governor’s requirements for her visit, including first-class flights from Anchorage to California — if she flies commercial. If not, “the private aircraft MUST BE a Lear 60 or larger …,” the contract specifies.


The contract includes a suite and two single rooms at a luxury hotel.


All audience questions will be pre-screened and approved by Palin in advance of her speech.


Two bottles of water with flexible straws will be on the podium.


No autographs will be granted.


Ostensibly, no video or sound recordings will be made of Palin’s appearance.


Although the precise speaking fee for Palin is uncertain, the event is being booked as $500 per seat.


Dave

Catholic sex scandal…

Good morning, Netizens…


AP–FILE - In this April 7, 2010 file photo, Pope Benedict XVI, listens to his personal secretary Georg Gaenswein…


The Vatican has gone into full-fledged damage control over the priest sex scandal just before the Pope leaves on his first foreign trip before this world-wide scandal erupted. Officials are promising surprising new initiatives. The pope’s personal secretary is speaking out. And bishops around the world are being told to report abuse cases to the police, not shove them into obscure bureaucratic loopholes where no one, save the highest members of the Vatican, can ever peer.


This new-and-improved strategy comes to life just as the Vatican attempts vainly to stem the damage from weeks of sordid tales about priests who molested and abused children and the Vatican officials who kept them quiet. This all comes just before the Pontiff’s trip to Malta this weekend. Abuse victims on that predominantly-Catholic island are mad as wet hens and demanding a papal audience and apology.


Benedict’s personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, spoke out Tuesday for the first time since the scandal broke, defending the pope’s prolonged silence on the German cases and charging that Benedict had done more than anyone else to crack down on abuse.


Perhaps more telling than other statements, Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor in chief of the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, conceded that there had been communications problems in the initial phases of the scandal, and that some comments by Vatican officials seemingly minimizing the scandal or attempting to deflect it had not been prudent.


In short, the Pope appears to have been caught stating that the Vatican hierarchy should perform as he has suggested rather than how he has done in the past.


Dave


Scott B. Lukins, RIP

This morning, I learned that Scott B. Lukins, founding father of Lukins & Annis passed away Sunday.   I was privileged and honored to have worked for the firm for the past 12 years.  Mr. Lukins marked our hallways every day.  A very elegant man, very professional, very compassionate. There is not a kinder, gentler soul than his. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.  The following email is a true tribute to this great man and I am attaching it in its entirety.   This was eloquently written by Stephanie D. Cox, Assistant Dean for Advancement, University of Washington School of Law.

* * * * * * *

Scott Lukins, Class of 1954, beloved alumnus and supporter of the law school, passed away over the weekend.

Mr. Lukins is a founder of Lukins & Annis in Spokane. Prior to founding Lukins & Annis he was a principal with Butler & Lukins from 1963-72. From 1959-62 Mr. Lukins was an associate with Whitherspoon, Kelley, Davenport & Toole. He also worked for Ford Motor Company as a tax attorney for a time and from 1955-57 he served in the US Army. In addition to earning his law degree from the UW in 1954, Mr. Lukins earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1951 and his LLM in Taxation from NYU in 1955.

Mr. Lukins has been very involved in the Spokane community for many years. He has served on a number of boards including the Spokane Chamber of Commerce, Foundation Northwest, Spokane Symphony Orchestra, Sacred Heart Hospital and the Inland Empire Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is also a former board member of Islanders Bank, Washington Trust Bank, the Bank of Pullman and Landers Bank. Corporate board membership has included the R.A. Pearson Company, Idaho Forest Industries, Jensen Distributing and the Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Company. Mr. Lukins also belonged to a number of professional organizations and has served as the president of the Spokane Estate Planning Council.

Mr. Lukins has been a loyal supporter of higher education and specifically the UW School of Law for many years. In 2006, the UW Law Alumni Association honored him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Mr. Lukins has served this law school and the legal community in so many ways and he will be greatly missed.

* * * * * * *

~Jeanie~

Terre’Blanche’s funeral in South Africa…

Good morning, Netizens…


[Photo: AP]


Mourners give the Nazi salute as a hearse containing the body of slain white supremacist leader Eugene Terre’Blanche drives by in South Africa yesterday. The South African white supremacist was buried on Friday, six days after being hacked to death by two black farm workers.


In South Africa, until his death, Terre’Blanche was the founder and leader of the AWB (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging) which, in English is Afrikaner Resistance Movement, a separatist neo-Nazi organization dedicated to the creation of an independent Boer-Africaner organization. According to several sources, 7% of South Africa still supports this separatist organization.


Although the AWB proclaims they are not practicing racial hatred, this picture is indeed troubling.


Does this picture, with the Nazi salutes and liberal use of the Swastika on the flag of the AWB have implications in the United States?


Dave

Disc Golf competition in Spokane this weekend…

Good afternoon, Netizens…


In this picture, shot by the Western News Newspaper in Libby, Montana, my stepson Scott tees off last summer in a disc golf competition in Troy, Montana. Once a stranger to this sport, but having watched from the sidelines for several years as he has worked his butt off perfecting his disc-throwing skills in our front yard and a variety of places and competitions throughout the Inland Northwest, I no longer consider myself a skeptic.


Rain, sleet, snow, hail and windstorms of a diverse variety all make playing disc golf a challenge, because it seems disc golf fanatics seem to like playing regardless of the weather.


I admit to being a bit surprised reading the story in today’s paper about the Disc Golf competition taking place today and tomorrow at Downriver Disc Golf Course in Spokane, as you seldom read about disc golf in the Spokane news media, despite its continued growth and expansion throughout the region. The article http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/10/top-disc-golfer-headlines-field/ was both well-written and informative, save for the editorial slip-up putting the competition at Peaceful Park, not Downriver.


David Feldberg, http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/10/top-disc-golfer-headlines-field/?photos a disc golf professional from Portland, is in town for the competition this weekend which, as the story in the Spokesman mentions, gives the local players a bit more of a chance, given the breezes blowing through Spokane today.


Summer is almost here and with it, the men and women of disc golf pack their bags of multi-hued discs and once again begin practicing their sport, praying that the crosswinds do not blow their discs off-course.


Dave

Plane crash in Russia kills Polish President

Good morning, Netizens…


Photo: Reuters


MOSCOW Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and some of the country’s highest military and civilian leaders died on Saturday when the presidential plane crashed as it came in for a landing in thick fog in western Russia, killing 96, officials said.

 

On board were the army chief of staff, national bank president, deputy foreign minister, army chaplain, head of the National Security Office, deputy parliament speaker, civil rights commissioner and at least two presidential aides and three lawmakers, the Polish foreign ministry said.

 

In the words of one wag, the plane crash in the fog pretty much wiped out the upper echelons of the Polish government.

 

Dave

 

TGIF- reprise…

Good morning, Netizens…


Thank Gawd it’s Friday! After nearly being blown into Idaho by yesterday’s wind storms, this morning is quiet by comparison, the sunrise almost visible peering at me from behind the mountains to our East and my cup of meaner-than-me coffee is sitting pretty damned well, all things being equal.


Despite a week-long bout with a bad cold, I am almost back to what, for me, is a norm for being 64 years of age and holding on for dear life.


What a week this has been! From the sickening father of a two month-old daughter who is in jail this morning while his daughter barely clings to life at Scared Heart with broken ribs, cranial contusions and various other dire injuries, daddy may be eventually charged with homicide child abuse and none too soon. Then there is the mother whose offspring stole her Jeep early this morning, crashing the Jeep into a power pole on the Glenrose Prairie and then lamely lying to her and police about it. It’s too bad they have outlawed using a horsewhip on errant children, because hers certainly need a good thrashing.


Perhaps the most-sad story of the entire week comes from going underground for a living. Years ago I regularly used to haul ore from a Molybdenum mine in Colorado, and over the years became acquainted with many of the men and women who, each day, rode the train deep into the earth to dig up ore and from them, learned bits and pieces about deep rock coal mining. I never forgot the tales I was told about relatives and friends who had died, or even worse, were waiting for death with black lung disease.


I cannot help but grieve for the families, loved ones and friends of all those who died in the West Virginia mine. My prayers and thoughts reach out to those three or four miners who may or may not still be alive, eking out hellish existences deep underground in a “safe room” awaiting rescue. I am mindful, of course, that with each passing day the odds against them being found alive steeply increase.


It is sad beyond words. I can only hope and pray the government shuts that damned mine down until they can improve their safety record.


The sun is up now, and although the wind still feels like February, it appears to be a nice day.


Dave



Gingrich takes his shots at Obama too…

Good morning, Netizens…


Picture: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich addresses the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Thursday, April 8, 2010. This is the opening session of the four day conference. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)



Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential presidential candidate in 2012, called Barack Obama on Thursday “the most radical president in American history” who oversees a “secular, socialist machine.” He went on to urge his fellow Republicans to stop Obama’s secular, socialist machine.”

Of course, he did not bother to expand upon nor define what he meant by a secular, socialist machine, but he did say the GOP wasn’t afraid of recognizing faith’s role in American Society.


He directly addressed the Republican Party being referred to as the “party of NO” by adding there were a lot of things the Republicans can say yes to, such as yes on tax cuts, a lower deficit, fewer regulations and a sensible energy plan. He did not mention a solution to health care, nor would he comment specifically upon his Presidential aspirations.


“That will be up to God,” he said, “and the American people.”


If I were to wildly speculate, it does seem as if Gingrich is already running for something. He certainly is not stipulating what that might be, at least not yet.


Dave


Walk a mile in her shoes…

Good morning, Netizens…


[Photo Credit: AP Photo/Evansville Courier & Press, Bob Gwaltney


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.


There’s an old saying taught to me by my grandmother that goes, “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”


While there are a lot of good, uplifting things taking place in the world today, one grim undeniable statistic is that every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. Less than 65% of all sexual assaults are reported to the police; even more grotesque, 73% of all victims of sexual assault know the identities of their assailants. Sexual assault is one of America’s great unspoken travesties that we seldom, if ever, talk about in public. Perhaps that is why only 6% of rapists ever spend a day in jail.


In 2001 a man named Frank Baird proposed Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®: The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence. The men’s march started out small, but has continued to grow each year. Each year men around the world don women’s high heel shoes for a day and march against sexual violence. You can read more about the evolution of this organization here http://www.walkamileinhershoes.org/.


Although valuable contributions are being made through education, rape crisis centers and toward making sexual assaults and gender violence a national priority, there is a lot of work yet to be done.


Every two minute someone in America is raped. One in six American women are victims of sexual assault. That means someone you know, someone you care about, has been or may become the victim of sexual violence. It may be your mother, your sister, your friend, your girlfriend, your wife, your coworker, or your daughter.


It might appear funny, obtuse perhaps, that a group of studly young men would don women’s high heeled shoes, but it is a first step toward eradicating sexual violence.


Dave


Is the Ring of Fire wakening up?

Good morning, Netizens…


Last weekend we saw a 7.2 earthquake rattle portions of the US-Mexican border near Baja, an earthquake that was stronger than the quake that so utterly destroyed Port Au Prince, Haiti. The only difference, according to scientists, is that most of Mexico was built to higher engineering standards than Haiti, and most of the area near the quake zone is less populated, hence less loss of life took place. The aftershocks, however, continue as recently as this morning.


Late February an 8.8 earthquake struck portions of Chile, killing over 300 people.


As of yesterday, a series of small earthquakes have been occurring near Mount Redoubt in Alaska, raising the possibility that Redoubt is once again about to erupt which poses all kinds of problems to nearby Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage and surrounding communities.


All three areas are on what is colloquially-called the Pacific Ring of Fire, a vast area of seismic activity which covers a broad area as seen on this map, including Seattle and western Washington State. However, I do not predict when or where earthquakes or volcanic eruptions are going to take place.


What implications can we imply from this resurgent activity along the Pacific Rim?


Don’t say it cannot happen here, because it could. A 7.0 quake in Seattle or Spokane could easily rearrange our priorities if not our lives. Have an emergency plan in place and be prepared.


Dave

Which side do we support?

Good morning, Netizens…


KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened over the weekend to quit the political process and join the Taliban if he continued to come under outside pressure to reform, several members of parliament said Monday. (AP News Wire)


Of course, cartoonist David Horsey’s question, as perhaps others might be whether the United States should be supporting the Karzai government.


On one hand we continue battling the Taliban, standing in favor of women’s rights and progressive democracy, on the other hand the Karzai government threatens to join the Insurgency responsible for so many American deaths. Which side do we support?


Dave




Understanding autism…

Good evening, Netizens…


Today is Good Friday, a religious date two days before Easter. It is also Autism Awareness Day, a holiday established by the United Nations on April 2, 2007 to “to highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder so they can lead full and meaningful lives.”


http://www.un.org/en/events/autismday/


I first became involved in Autism issues when a friend’s daughter, affectionately named Aiee (pronounced A-E) was diagnosed as being autistic at age 3, and immediately the all-powerful State of Kentucky began insisting that her autism, an inability to communicate, was caused by what they termed “poor mothering”. In the next two years and change, the State of Kentucky filed formal child abuse charges against Aiee’s mother and her step-father. They simply were fabrication; I knew both parents well, and if there had been any abusive situations taking place, it was the State of Kentucky’s abuse of their parental rights.


In a macabre twist, eventually Aiee was smuggled out of the state and moved to another less-restrictive state. By age 12 Aiee no longer exhibited any of the strange, almost other-worldly symptoms of autism she had shown, and was well enough to re-enter the public school system. To this day, no logical explanation has ever been given to either of her parents for Aiee’s improvement. For what it is worth, Aiee is now studying at the college level, and has been termed a “gifted” child.


I recently read about this man’s research into the causes of autism, and saw to it that Aiee’s parents were put in touch with him.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOEXldRNxcA


Although my time with Aiee was quite limited, and so long ago, still autism sits in the corner of my mind, gnawing at me, and occasionally I remember Good Friday is also Autism Awareness Day and I continue to follow new developments in understanding it better.


Have you ever known/loved an autistic child before?


Dave

Confession is good for the soul…

Good afternoon, Netizens…


Sometimes cartoonist David Horsey outdoes himself in his eloquence and in today’s cartoon, I believe he stepped into a sensitive issue with eloquence and truth. If the absolute truth is ever known about sexual child abuse by Catholic priests the sheer numbers of its innocent victims casts a hideous pall upon the church. It is just about who knew. We have had our share of sexual abuse cases here in Spokane, and the malodorous stench of their combined stories casts an overwhelming and horribly sad commentary upon our times.


For too long it has been considered acceptable behavior to turn a blind eye to wayward priests, for Bishops to routinely shuffle them from parish to parish lest someone notice or object to such abysmal behavior. One would hope that such things no longer will take place.


Instead, as David Horsey suggests, from the parish priests to the highest-ranking members of the Vatican should fall on their knees, confess their transgressions, with the tacit understanding that as part of confession they go forth and sin no more, including the sins of silence and denial.


We should also remember the priests who live saintly lives, living in purity and in a state of grace, for I believe they outnumber those who have committed sins of the flesh.


Dave



Who is Sarah Palin?

Good morning, Netizens…


Cartoonist David Horsey takes yet another shot at Sarah Palin and the Tea Bag Party members, but I cannot figure Palin out. She ostensibly cannot name a single newspaper she reads regularly, gets picked out of nowhere to become a Vice-Presidential candidate, loses the election and then quits her job as Alaska’s governor all the while becoming a major celebrity with a huge fan base.


Now she is running for President with the avid support of the Conservative Right-Wing nuts.


Half the damned country thinks she is a God-given gift. What is perhaps frightening is that she might win the election, but then where does that leave us?


Dave



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