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A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for August 2007

Going, going …

Unnamed officials say Craig is considering resignation … to be replaced by Lt. Gov. Jim Risch.


So sad.

Senator resigns!

No, not Larry Craig. It’s John Warner, a Republican from Virginia who just got back from Iraq. He’s 80. Would be 88 at the end of another term.

His resignation puts another Senate seat into play. The Dems currently hold a 51-49 edge. What do you think will happen in 2008?

A. Republicans pick up Senate seats.
B. Democrats gain.
C. No change in numbers.

Letter: S-R missteps

(…) Your front-page article on Wednesday (“Behind barbed wire“) tells almost everything that an enemy needs to know if they are determined to hurt our national security programs based here in Spokane.

Let’s see – a staff of 50-plus people, one technical equipment building that has 3-foot thick walls and is multi-floored and underground, another major structure is only a classroom and conference center, a rapid response team is dispatched from Spokane to worldwide locations and they leave by white government vans and the whole thing is protected by random roving guard patrols.

I guess there is no need for U.S. captives to give more than a name, rank and serial number if captured. You printed it all, and in my opinion that was not a smart thing to do. May I remind you and the S-R staff that we are a country at war. You made Spokane, and those assigned and identified by name, a target. No wonder the facility would not let the S-R in for a tour.

Derek Policani

News is a Conversation, an S-R blog maintained by Steve Smith, is already discussing this issue here.
Are we all in greater danger because of the attention drawn by Wednesday’s article?

Friday’s Loose Thread

Feel free to impart your stance (wide or narrow) on a pressing issue of the day.

Letters: Imagine a world with/without religion

To Ed Meadows, who wants to imagine a world without religion (Aug. 28):

Here in Spokane, a world without religion would include a city without Union Gospel Mission, House of Charity, Salvation Army apartments and social services, Catholic Charities and the myriad of services it provides, St. Margaret’s Hall and Anna Odgen Hall (both for homeless women), St. Vincent de Paul, Jewish Family Services, the Interfaith Hospitality Network (which houses and helps homeless families), the countless food pantries and services provided by a wide variety of Catholic and Protestant churches throughout the city.

Without the religions Mr. Meadows deplores, who would feed, house, support, counsel, console and educate the people who depend on the services of these organizations?

Margaret Coffey

What a wonderful letter (“Imagine a godless world,” Aug 28). Ed Meadows wrote with views about what wonders could come about if we didn’t waste so much time and resources focused on religion and the various gods we’ve invented. It is extremely refreshing to read a realistic view of what humanity could create with all of that out of the way.

Good for you, Ed. I wish more like thinkers would show their true feelings about this subject. “Imagine” living life in peace!

Nancy Williams

Here at A Matter of Opinion, we can’t seem to get away from politics and religion. Feel free to take sides if you find it necessary. Just don’t bring them up when you’re meeting your potential in-laws.

S-R file photo

Thursday’s Loose Thread

Remember when threads were clothes? Really? Gosh, you’re old. Now they’re like those talking sticks at youth camps.

The stick is yours.

Our View: Stall tactics?

In Our View, Sen. Craig’s explanation was, well, lacking.

Was it good enough for you?

Letter: Bus riders should pay full cost

What about bus fares? Gas prices have tripled and the cost of riding the bus has stayed the same. Why isn’t the true cost of riding the bus paid by the patrons? I know, they are “Earth friendly” and they are better than me, right? Let’s require the users pay most of the costs of bus usage instead of subsidizing them by taxing the nonusers. The argument that buses keep more cars off the streets is bunk, as most bus riders say they can’t afford cars anyway so they would not be driving them. It’s time the so-called “poor” pay their fair share in taxes and give the rest of us a break!
Rob Leach
S-R file photo

As a user and appreciater of the bus system, I guess I am in a minority, as I also have a car and could drive it to work if I wanted more pollution, more gas, parking and insurance expenses, more traffic congestion and more stress. Perhaps if the bus weren’t so convenient for me personally I’d feel differently, but while it is not perfect, I think the bus system is one of the best things about Spokane.

The idea that the “poor” need to pay their “fair share” in taxes is entirely contradictory to the idea of taxation at all. But perhaps that’s Mr. Leach’s point.

What do you think?

The Despair of the Closet

Over the weekend, I finished a memoir by E. Lynn Harris, an African American writer who tried to kill himself in 1990, overwhelmed by the burden of being a gay, black man in our society. He hid his homosexuality from his family and many of his friends.

When the Sen. Larry Craig news broke yesterday, I grew angry once more at a society still so backward on this issue. You can’t easily be a gay politician (which Craig, by the way, denies), especially on the national level or a gay movie actor or actress or a gay priest, though Lord knows the Roman Catholic Church would lose a lot of priests if that closet ever truly opened.

This secrecy destroys lives and souls. When will the madness stop?

From Harris’ book:

One night while talking to my Aunt Gee, I mentioned that I was becoming comfortable with spending my life alone since I was gay.
She said something that hurt me deeply.
“Baby, if I had raised you, I don’t think you would have been gay.”
A chill went through my body, and after a few moments of silence, I said, “No, Aunt Gee, you’re wrong. I might have learned to love myself sooner, but I still would have been gay.”

(Harris photo from the author’s official Web site.)

Letter: “Sexy” allegations

Re: article by John Craig, “Attorneys wary of informer” (Aug. 19): Kidnapping and rape “are sexy allegations” according to the quote by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice. If this is a man in a position to protect all persons and he finds these allegations “sexy,” then I think it is time he finds a new job. I cannot believe someone in this day and age would make such a comment, but obviously I give some people too much credit. Unless he or the U.S. attorney’s office can prove he did not say this, then he needs to go job hunting. (…)
Mary Henson
Airway Heights

I’ve heard “sexy” a lot more recently to refer to things that have mass appeal, in some kind of juicy, sensationalist (but not necessarily sex-related) sense. It’s just one of many words that, if taken literally, can be offensive or just downright confusing. Over the years, “cool,” “radical,” “pimp” and many other words have also been thus appropriated, to the chagrin of those who allege a “butchering of the English language.”

It sounds like we all need to watch what we say very carefully. Have you noticed any examples of words that surprised you in how they were used?

Tuesday’s Loose Thread

Am I the only one who didn’t know that foot-tapping in the next stall is a sign that the fella next to you wants to get busy?

Don’t want to talk about that? Then what is on your mind?

The colonel writes from Iraq

Col. Darel Maxfield posted on this blog this morning from Besmaya Range Complex east of Baghdad.

Find his post here: A view from Iraq.

And for earlier posts of the original column and other conversations, check out these links here and here.

In the good ol’ summertime

The calendar gives us three and a half more weeks of summer, but as the temperatures take a turn for the milder and the kids get ready to return to school, fall is clearly in the air. If that sparks any thoughts you want to share — or if you just want an opportunity to sound off about whatever is on your mind, post your thoughts below on this, today’s loose thread.

Letter from Sunday

A young writer piped up on Sunday’s page to vouch for the maturity of adolescent readers who seek out books such as “Fallen Angels” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

(…) I’m going into my senior year of high school and as a middle schooler I picked up and read each of these novels. I turned out more than all right.

Honestly, though, how many students are actually going to seek out a novel about the Vietnam War and another about a girl who is abused in just about every way possible but grows and overcomes it? Probably not many, and the ones that do are more than mature enough to handle it.

You’ve got to be kidding me if these parents think that their kids aren’t being exposed to violence, profanity, racism and sexism every day on TV, at school and by their family and friends. The parents and teachers raising my generation are teaching us not to think. By the time we are on our own in the world and it’s realized, it will be too late. (…)

So, what have you read recently that kids should/shouldn’t read?

The Chickenhawk Debate

Froma Harrop had a great syndicated column on our editorial pages today about the five Romney boys and the reasons given for not serving in the military.

Mitt Romney has five strapping sons, and not one of them has ever served in the military. When asked about this in Bettendorf, Iowa, the Republican presidential hopeful said that “one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected.” He noted that his boy Josh had driven a Winnebago to all of Iowa’s 99 counties – all 99 of them!
There’s been a lot of back-and-forth over this tactless comment. Jim Geraghty wrote on National Review Online that he’s “tired” of the “chickenhawk line of attack.”
…So while the “chickenhawk” label could stick to most of the candidates, there’s something especially jarring about the Romney family portrait: six hunky males, all untouched by military service. (During the Vietnam War, Mitt obtained a draft deferment to do missionary work in France.)

Chickenhawk or squawking media chicken? You decide.

(Romney family photo via AP)

May I see your license, please?

Governments require licenses for everyone from doctors and lawyers to florists
and fortune tellers. It is time we took a closer look at the costs and benefits of licensing
regulations, and why they were enacted in the first place.

That comment comes from a report issued recently by the libertarian Reason Foundation.
The study ranked states according to how many occupations are subject to licensing oversight; California was first with 177 and Missouri was 50th with 41.
What about our region?
It probably won’t surprise you to learn Idaho ranks 46th among the states, requiring licenses for 61 occupations.
And Washington comes in at, ta-ta, 49th. (Be honest, you didn’t expect that, did you?)
Of the 53 occupations this state licenses, all but 10 of them are regulated by all 50 states and of those 10, only four are under licensing requirements by fewer than half the states. The most notable aberrations? Washington and Rhode Island are the only two states to license travel agents, and Washington is one of only seven states to license “property, real estate and community association managers.”

Friday’s Loose Thread

I don’t care about John Doe’s opinion on mine or anyone else’s work. William Faulkner.

Unlike Faulkner, we care about the opinions on the minds of all John and Jane Does out there.

Blog lines are open.

Boy Scouts and abuse

Former S-R reporter Jonathan Martin has a shocking article in today’s Seattle Times on the Boy Scouts and sexual abuse. And I don’t shock easily.


The previously private records show the Boy Scouts have ejected at least 5,100 adult leaders nationwide for sexual abuse allegations since 1946. And the files reveal that despite efforts to keep potential abusers from joining, the problems persist: In the past 15 years alone, the organization has kicked out leaders for such allegations at a rate of once every other day.

That widespread? Does this surprise you?

Hot Potatoes: Overcoming Clothes-Mindedness

As I’ve said before, most people don’t look good nekkid. If you don’t believe me, poke your head into a health club locker room (being careful to be gender-sensitive, of course). Clothes cover a multitude of pounds, stretch marks, scars and wrinkles. Yet, people keep shedding their inhibitions to appear nude in public. Regionally, we have the Sun Meadows nudist resort, near Worley, Idaho, and Kaniksu Ranch, near Loon Lake, Wash., which sponsors the Bare Buns Fun Run. When I interviewed Bare Buns runner Shenelle Kraack, of St. Maries, for my Huckleberries Online blog this month, my overriding question was: “Why?” Why flop around for some three miles in the buff with hundreds of sagging Baby Boomers? Shenelle explained the phenomenon. But I still don’t grasp the concept. However, I understand why a fellowship of worker bees and friends of Ponderay’s Stitchin’ Sisters yarn and fabric shop have banded together to bare almost all for a 2008 calendar. Sorta. They want to raise money for three charities. The calendar comes with this warning from owner Audra Mearns: “This is not your Grandma’s quilting calendar.” It’ll sell, perhaps better than the Coeur d’Alene Library calendar fundraiser featuring local celebs. We like to be titillated. Most of us should be air-brushed, too.

Full Hot Potatoes column here

Question: Would you pose nude or semi-nude for a worthy cause?

Speaking of Wayward Nouns….

Thanks to reader Claudine Luppi who e-mailed me to point out a typo in our front page story on obesity surgery. She wants to send it to Readers Digest. (It was a Washington Post story, not one of our own.)

The quote reads:

“This study for the first time offers strong evidence that intentional weight loss, or at least bariatric surgery, is associated with decreased morality,” Sjostrom said.

Anyone care to share word misuses with us? It happens to us all, for sure.

Leadership Qualities: What do you look for?

Our editorial today outlined some leadership qualities voters might look for as the general election campaigns commence.

Candidates with leadership potential articulate a clear vision. They draw disparate people together and move with them toward that vision. They have evidence of what they stand for based on their accomplishments. But they are not empty boasters, and they back up accomplishment claims with specific, verifiable details.

The best leaders understand that many people – and trends – contribute to big community successes…Effective leaders can also sublimate their egos and give credit to other people or to civic forces larger than just one individual.

What qualities would you add?

Looking for Haiku Opinions

From Gary Snyder’s poem “Hitch Haiku:”

They didn’t hire him
so he ate his lunch alone:
the noon whistle

Those of you up in the middle of the night and finding some distraction here at edit board blog are welcome to try a haiku opinion. Regular opinions welcome, too.

Wednesday Thread

Bean: n Head, brain.

So what’s on your beano this morning?

Blog lines are open.

The return of Crime Check

Our editorial today discussed how the demise of Crime Check was penny-wise but pound-foolish, to use a cliche that says it exactly.

But the lessons learned from the dismantling of Crime Check should stay in the collective memory of city and county officials.

For instance, don’t mess with steeped-in-tradition civic programs that work…When the program was diminished and the number changed, calls plummeted. Police agencies lost a valuable source of front-line information.

And they lost citizen confidence that police and elected officials gave a hoot about minor crimes. In 1982, two sociologists pioneered the “broken window” thesis of safe communities. When cities pay attention to the smaller stuff – for instance, repair vandalized windows and paint over graffiti – citizens feel safer and will be more likely to support bigger public safety efforts, such as additional police officers.

Did you ever use the old Crime Check? Did you miss it when it went away? Did you ever use the new one?

Loose Thread Tuesday

What’s on your minds this morning, dear blog readers and commenters?

Our operators are standing by…

A traditionalist speaks

Last night I marked my primary election ballot, sealed it as instructed, and laid it on the front seat of my car — as a reminder. Tomorrow, after work, I’ll drop it off in person at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on Grand.
I really dislike voting by mail. I’m not talking about absentee ballots, which are a must for people who can’t get to the polls. Most of us can, though, and should. I’ll spare you the philosophical blather. Most Spokane County voters obviously disagree with me, as does a majority of the editorial board, as do every state or local elections official I know of. But until they strip me of that last vestige of participatory democracy, I’ll vote in person. Will anyone be there with me?

A conversation between a colonel and a columnist

In my column this week, I shared highlights of a conversation and e-mail exchange I’ve had with Col. Darel Maxfield, who currently heads Besmaya Range Complex in Iraq.

Ordinarily a social studies teacher at Ferris High School in Spokane, Maxfield now spends his days helping Iraqis train their troops.

Read the column here: Two Iraq opinions hold a common goal

Since the column appeared, I’ve heard from a

Staff photo

Wag Bags

Our editorial Saturday talked about the growing problem with human waste dumped on the sandy beaches of Lake Roosevelt.

Clearly, visitors to Lake Roosevelt – last year there were 1.28 million of them – need a rapid education on the proper way to dispose of human waste near their camp sites.
This reservoir laps up onto more than 600 miles of shoreline, making it impossible to build bathrooms at every location where visitors might need them. Currently, campers are required to bring portable toilets, but the area is so short-staffed that rangers can’t enforce the rules. Lake Roosevelt has eight full-time rangers this summer, down from 20 in 1997…Bird believes the solution lies in ramping up an education program, which will require additional staff, and possibly a new permit and fee system to help cover the costs. Campers need to learn about new degradable waste disposal bags, called WAG Bags, which transform stools into an odorless gel. They can be easily carried out and thrown in the trash.

What is the best way to educate people about packing it in and packing it out?

(James Hagengruber photo of makeshift “toilet” on Lake Roosevelt.)

It’s ballot time

Time is ticking away.
Ballots in the Washington primary are due Aug. 21. Our candidate interviews in the Spokane City Council and mayoral races are posted just below.

City Council District 1 and 2 interviews

The Spokesman-Review’s candidate endorsement process includes several elements, including in some cases a face-to-face interview. We also examine candidates’ Web sites and campaign materials, study their public records as reported in our own news columns, talk to other community members who have their own insights and sometimes call the candidates with follow-up questions. In the end, we filter that information through an editorial philosophy that has been shaped over the years and produce a recommendation which we offer to our readers for whatever weight they think it deserves.

Last week, the editorial board began interviews for some races in the Aug. 21 primary. Here are the audio tracks from interviews with candidates in Spokane City Council races from District 1 and District 2.

The five District 1 candidates:

Donna McKereghan
Gary Pollard
Bob Apple
Luke Tolley
Robert Stokes Jr.

Three of the four District 2 candidates:

George McGrath
Richard Rush
Brad Stark

Karen Cannon chose not to participate in the endorsement process.

The Theology of Elvis

If you haven’t heard, yesterday was the 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death.

Theologians sometimes point out how in our increasingly secular culture, people crave ritual. So they finds ways (whether aware of it or not) to do ritual in secular life.

The Elvis anniversary has religious overlays everywhere you look. Consider:

1)Pilgrimage. Most major faith traditions have pilgrimage rituals. Mecca. Lourdes. You get the idea. According to the Associated Press, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau estimate that up to 75,000 people will be in Memphis for the anniversary week.

2) Ritual clothing and other accoutrements. Catholics priests have vestments. Jewish people have prayer shawls. Incense, candles, bells, chimes and prayer gongs are common in many faith traditions. Elvis worshippers have black Elvis outfits or white ones, depending on which Elvis era they liked the best.

3) Communion. If you missed Doug Clark’s great column and video on the making and eating of the Elvis peanut-butter-jelly-bacon-butter sandwich at Cassano Grocery in Spokane, click here to see it.

4) Music. Churches have gospel choirs and guitar Masses and cantors and chanters and organ music. Elvis worshippers have Elvis’ music.

Any other Elvis ritual I’ve forgotten? Blog lines are open.

(This post is being simulblogged at Journey to Vatican III.)

(In this AP photo, fans visit the flower-covered grave of Elvis Presley on the grounds of Graceland in Memphis.)

TGIF Letter

A test of American progress

Barack Obama appears extraordinarily intelligent, creative, innovative, charming and sincere: a man of tremendous leadership potential and American vision, sound in ideals and realistic in implementation. He is formed from a unique perspective fundamental to the American experience of hope, opportunity and diversity. Despite these potential presidential assets, Sen. Obama is limited. He has the impediment of inexperience, a dissuading factor of some merit, although I would point out, experience is overrated in an age of specialized advisers.

I would pose the greater obstacle may not be Sen. Obama’s leadership credentials or his moderate political beliefs, but whether the voting public and the media who inform us refer to Sen. Obama as “a leading contender for the presidency” or as Sen. Obama, “the black candidate.” This raw distinction is really a question of our collective maturity as a nation. Have we crested the mountain? Have we realized the dream of Martin Luther King Jr.?
David S. Loebach
(AP Photo)

This writer appears to believe race-only labeling could be a significant problem for the American “media” in the 2008 campaign. Have you seen evidence for or against this belief? Please let us know.

Mining the mysteries of the city budget

In our editorial today, we asked city hall to help provide citizens with more opportunities, both online and on paper, to read easily digestible budget forecasts.

You may read the editorial here: Our View: Decipherable data

We’d also like to hear your thoughts on the city budget information that would be most helpful to you.

Creepy connections? Jack McClellan and Lewis Carroll

Some of the creepiest stories we’ve had in the newspaper recently concern Jack McClellan, 45, a self-proclaimed pedophile who is obsessed with little girls and takes their photos in public places.

He’s never been arrested for a sex crime. He’s from Washington State, now living out of his car in California and there is a statewide restraining order against him. He must remain 30 feet away from any child. According to a brief we ran today he “was charged Tuesday with violating an order to stay away from children after he was arrested twice in a day at a university.”

For years, he maintained a Web site in Washington on which he posted photos of children he had taken in public places. He also discussed how he liked to stake out parks, public libraries, fast-food restaurants and other areas where little girls, or “LGs,” congregate.

Yuk. Anyway, reading about McClellan reminded me of a debate that still goes on in academic circles on whether Lewis Carroll, author of “Alice in Wonderland” was a pedophile. He took photos of little girls and seemed obsessed with them. Personally, I believe in the pedophile spin, though there’s no evidence Carroll ever acted inappropriate in a sexual way with the girls he photographed. (McClellan supposedly hasn’t either, but ick just the same.)

So you have to wonder, would there be a restraining order against Lewis Carroll in today’s society?

Your thoughts?

Sex offenders

I thought that would get your attention.
Former Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney Don Brockett passed along this press release about a recent meeting in Portland.

Portland, Oregon The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), meeting in Portland, Oregon this week, unanimously adopted a resolution calling on state legislators to reform statute of limitation laws that governing the ability of victims to commence criminal and civil legal actions.

Recognizing that it is often much later in life when victims equate the injuries they suffer with the sexual abuse they experienced as a child, national prosecutors are acutely aware of why most of these crimes go unreported for many years, and as a result, offenders often escape responsibility for their criminal actions.

Marci Hamilton, a professor of Law at Yeshiva University in New York; author of the forthcoming book “How to Deliver Us from Evil: What America Must Do to Protect its Children;” called the statement by the national district attorneys a “historic endorsement of what needs to be done to identify child predators in America.”

Hamilton, who is also a board member of NAPSAC, said “It is unfortunate that most child predators are never prosecuted because they enjoy the freedom of movement afforded to them by the existing statutes of limitation—and clearly, our nation’s prosecutors understand that.”

Prosecutors James Backstrom and Susan Gaertner, both of Minnesota, were instrumental in working with NAPSAC to pass the resolution.

Gaertner, an experienced trial attorney who has prosecuted sexual assaults against children and is now the elected County Attorney of Ramsey County (St. Paul), emphasized that the problem of child sex abuse is much larger than most people know. She told the meeting of fellow District Attorneys that while “most American are aware of the clergy abuse scandals, the sexual abuse of children is not limited to any one religion, class of people or geographic area. It is a societal problem that is much larger than most people understand.”

Backstrom, who also spoke on behalf of the resolution, said as the elected prosecutor in a large suburban Twin Cities county, he aggressively pursues these cases. However, he pointed out that because there is often a delay in reporting and rarely physical evidence, most prosecutions are not successful. “For this reason,” he said, “it is obvious that the criminal justice system cannot solve this enormous problem on its own. Therefore, it is imperative that we explore a multitude of ways to expose the perpetrators of these crimes and prevent further victimization.”

Don’s interested in hearing some broader discussion on this issue. So am I. Please join the conversation.

Remembering Hiroshima

Casey King asked for a chance to talk about today’s column by Robert Scheer regarding the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Here it is.

China’s lethal toys

In today’s editorial, we write about the myriad safety issues stemming from imports from China.

Read the piece here: Made in China

And this morning, Mattel announced it’s recalling about 9 million Chinese toys containing lead-based paint or small magnets that children may swallow. Here’s that story: Mattel Recalling More Chinese-Made Toys

What’s your opinion on the best way to keep Americans safe and the economy rolling?

Leadership Lessons

Our six-month editorial board project Leadership Dialogues ended Sunday with a discussion with Spokane Symphony music director Eckart Preu.

Doug Floyd, Colin Mulvany and I all enjoyed talking with our six dialoguers and we all came away with ah-ha! moments from the interviews in terms of leadership lessons.

I’m going to list mine here. Doug and Colin, feel free to add yours, if so inclined.

Effective leaders:

1) Listen well.

2) Respect differing talents and gifts among those they lead, rather than try to force them all into the same mold.

3) Understand that their leadership power comes from the position, not from the person.

4) Admit mistakes, then move beyond them.

5) Praise people for jobs well done and share credit for successes.

6) Act humbly but with confidence.

7) Make decisions often and well.

(Eckart Preu photo by Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)

Search the stars for heroes

Today we celebrate the heroism behind Barbara Morgan’s space flight.

Read our editorial: A dream takes flight

Then share your opinion about where you find heroes today.

A letter to mull over this weekend

Could this idea work?

ATM voting simple, secure
As of 2003, there were over 330,000 ATMs nationwide. There are a number of manufacturers, but in one manner or another, all of the machines are networked. Why should the government buy insecure, unproven touch-screen voting machines that don’t even provide a printed receipt when with a minimal amount of effort virtually every ATM in the United States could be temporarily converted into a voting machine for a day?

The process would be simple. Write secure code that would be loaded onto the ATMs. Voters would make a stop at their local polling location, confirm their identity and receive a voting debit card with a private pass PIN (A new debit card can be created in about 2 minutes). They then take that card to any participating ATM, insert card and vote. The machine then provides a printed receipt of the voting transaction. The voting results would be available real-time because all of the ATMs are networked.

The machines are in place; all we need now is the will of our representatives to get the ATM network owners to participate.

Steven M. Osweiler

Noah Kroese: Killing 2 Birds w/One Stone?

Noah Kroese/Spokesman-Review

Jeopardy, anyone?

ANSWER (in the words of historian Barbara Tuchman): “They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind.”

QUESTION: That are _____________?

Or, if riddles don’t grab you, use this post as today’s loose thread and let us know what you want to talk about.

City Council Endorsements

Thus far, The Spokesman-Review has published endorsements for the District 1 and District 2 primary contests for Spokane City Council.

Thursday, it’s District 3.

Friday, it’s the mayor’s race.

“Why Do They Hate Us?”

Interesting perspective from a Muslim writer.


Part of the reason people abroad resent the United States is something Americans can do very little about: envy. The richest, most powerful country in the world attracts the jealousy of others in much the same way that the richest, most powerful man in a small town attracts the jealousy of others. It will come his way no matter how kind, generous or humble he may be.

But there is another major reason for anti-Americanism: the accreted residue of many years of U.S. foreign policies. These policies are unknown to most Americans. They form only minor footnotes in U.S. history. But they are the chapter titles of the histories of other countries, where they have had enormous consequences. America’s strength has made it a sort of Gulliver in world affairs: By wiggling its toes it can, often inadvertently, break the arm of a Lilliputian.

Wednesday’s loose thread

To keep the fabric of society from unraveling, please attend to loose threads. Use this one to launch your own discussion.

The beat goes on

Installment 2 of our endorsement series for the Aug. 21 primary deals with the City Council seat in District 2, essentially the south side of Spokane. You can link to it here and then share your comments.
For what it’s worth, a reader phoned yesterday, a little frustrated because he’d filled his ballot out and returned it without knowing we’d be publishing editorial endorsements in those races.
He apparently lives in District 1, because he said he learned some things from yesterday’s endorsement of Donna McKereghan that he hadn’t known. Would it have changed is vote? He wasn’t sure, but he said it might have.
In future elections, we’ll try to publish a schedule of upcoming endorsements before the ballots are mailed out.

Head count — Tuesday’s loose thread

In the conclusion of her recent book, “The Idea That is America,” Anne-Marie Slaughter, the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton calls on Americans across the board to join in the debate about public policy issues.
“If two heads are better than one, then we need as many participants as possible; we also need to hear the widest possible spectrum of views before making the critical decisions.”
Here’s your chance to expand the conversation. What perspectives do you think are being overlooked on either the national, regional or local level?

How much do they make?

Taxpayers foot the bill for public employees’ salaries, which makes that information public. Louis Bloom, a resident on the west side of the state, has made it a hobby to compile that data and posted it at his Web site.

School teachers. College professors. Police officers. Firefighters. They’re all on there.

Is this useful information? Would you want people to know how much you make?

Fred Fleming: Thinking Outside the Farm Plot

(Tech note: If you don’t see the video prompt and big photo, refresh your computer and it should appear.)

Spent an afternoon recently with Fred Fleming, a Reardan fourth-generation farmer who, along with a dozen other Palouse farmers, is pioneering ways to do sustainable no-till farming. They are also building regional markets for their Shepherd’s Grain product.

He was the focus of my Sunday column, and of the audio slide show posted with this post. In the column, I quoted Margo Long who teaches future teachers at Whitworth University. In a recent summer class, she taught skills students will need to thrive in the global world. She has advice for older workers, too.

Workers who have toiled for years in the same profession can feel anxious and on the verge of burning out, Margo says. Some think that if they jump to a new profession, all will be well again. But no profession is immune from technological changes and global currents.
Best to stay in the “box” you know and use your accumulated knowledge to try creative things, she says. It’s working for Fred. He introduces himself this way: “My name is Fred and I’m a recovering conventional farmer.”

Question: How have you reinvented yourself in your current workplace?

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Pia: Spray-Paint Ban Won’t Solve Graffiti Problem

Let’s see: we have a graffiti problem – what should we do? How about we ban spray paint in the hands of teenagers, that should make it go away. Come to think of it we also have an obesity problem, so let’s ban bacon and throw in butter for good measure. That should take care of those extra pounds and heart disease, too. And there’s that meth problem that refuses to go away, so let’s make meth illegal now that we’re at it. You say what? Meth is already illegal? But then the meth problem should be gone – or I don’t understand the reasoning behind a ban at all. Spokane City Councilwoman Mary Verner is proposing an ordinance that would ban the selling to, or possession of, spray paint aerosol containers by anyone under 18. It’s going to curb our graffiti problem, says Verner, a candidate for mayor. I have a hard time believing it’s that simple — Pia Hansen/Spokesman-Review.

Full column here

Question: What’s the best way to address a graffiti problem?

Conversation: We Haven’t Lost Sense of Decency, But …

re: Pia Hansen’s question in a recent column after some mocked Josh Levy’s suicide on the Monroe Street bridge: Have we lost our sense of decency or compassion?

Whenever I am confronted with situations such as Levy’s suicide off the Monroe Street Bridge, and the resulting lack of decency and compassion for others that took place in the aftermath of the standoff, I nearly always remember my grandmother, who raised me during a time of profound child abuse in my life. She taught me about life, gave a living example of quiet dignity and compassion for others. Were it not for the tenderness she showed, and the principles she taught me at a time of abject misery in my life, I probably would be behind bars or perhaps even worse than that, for people die easily and invisibly on the hard pavements of life out past the lights of compassion — Editor David Laird/News Is A Conversation.

Full post by David Laird here

Question: Have we lost our sense of decency and compassion?

Golden Pen: Blame Isn’t A Solution

re: this letter appeared in today’s Op-Ed section

I am one of three pediatricians in Spokane who regularly provide expertise about child abuse. Dave Fregeau was one of the other two. He volunteered his time each week, providing medical consultations for a community review team charged with considering the most high-risk and complex children and families. He served this community for many years. That Tyler DeLeon died, starved and unattended, is a tragedy. That an experienced, thorough physician like Dr Fregeau missed this neglect is another sign of how our safety net has holes and the smallest of our people, our children, are the first to fall through and suffer. It is not a signal for personal and professional attacks. We have the opportunity in our community to stop tearing holes and blaming and to start building a system in which all of the parts interlock, communicate and cooperate to keep our children and our families healthy and whole. We have models here from which we can build in the Circle of Security and Partners with Families and Children, which involve CPS, mental health, law enforcement, schools and neighborhoods. Let’s stop pointing fingers and begin taking responsibility to create an accountable, working community.

Deb Harper, M.D.
Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Noah Kroese: A Worthless Piece of Antiquity

Noah Kroese/Spokesman-Review

Question: Does Any Local Bridge Worry You?

Larry McCormack/The Tennessean, AP

Tennessee Department of Transportation bridge inspectors look under the Victory Memorial Bridge during a press conference announcing the condition of the state’s bridges today in Nashville, Tenn.

OrangeTV: This news horrifies me on several levels. Obviously, I feel terrible for the victims involved, but also it’s because it is one of my worst subconscious fears come to life. Every time I drive over the long bridge into Sandpoint or over into Seattle, I think “What if it just collapsed underneath us…” I can’t even imagine the horror.

Question: Is there any Inland Northwest bridge that worries you?

Originally posted at Huckleberries Online here

Loose Thread — 8/2/07

You can become part of the discussion of the topics shown below, most of which appeared in today’s paper. Or you can start your own Loose Thread for discussion under this post. Be our guest …

News Is A Conversation: Who Holds Press Accountable?

Before I left for Montana this afternoon to pick up my daughter from the ranch where she works each summer, I had a long conversation with a local physician who was quite upset with our story Saturday about Dr. Fregeau, the physician who, it seems, missed the signs that Tyler DeLeon was being abused. I think the story was fair and accurate, but I can understand how Dr. Fregeau’s friends and colleagues will rush to his defense on the basis that he was caught up in a situation outside his control. I don’t see it that way, but I get it. In any event, in talking to me, the doctor today said we had “bullied” Dr. Fregeau. And then he asked, “Who holds you accountable when you make a mistake?” His point was, more or less, that the press operates without checks and that there seems to be no remedy when the press makes a mistake — Editor Steve Smith/News Is A Conversation.

Full post here

Question (from Steve Smith): How is the newspaper held accountable for its actions and if the existing mechanisms are inadequate, what processes do you think ought to be instituted?

Noah Kroese: The Way It Is, The Way It Was

Noah Kroese/Spokesman-Review

Good News, Bad News for Kendra Goodrick

I’ve moved this one up the thread b/c Noah’s cartoon is terrific

Noah Kroese/Spokesman-Review

More Info: Kendra Goodrick is eligible for parole, but the Hayden woman must wait more than four months before she gets a hearing before the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole. Goodrick, 29, is scheduled to appear before the commission in December, Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray said Tuesday. Meanwhile, her attorneys are pursuing another avenue to have her freed.

Full post here

DFO: No case better displays the callousness and — yes, incompetence — of our legal system as this one does. Good-hearted judge fumbles. Cold-hearted prosecutors jump all over that fumble out of spite for the judge. The state can’t muster the time for for months to get a woman who’s gone straight outta an overcrowded prison system. F’shame.

In The News: Murdoch Annexes Wall Street Journal

Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

The Dow Jones news ticker is shown earlier today in New York’s Times Square. Rupert Murdoch has sealed a deal to buy Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. for $5 billion, ending a century of family ownership and adding a crown jewel to his global media empire, News Corp.

Question: Anyone willing to guess what changes Murdoch will make to the Wall Street Journal?

Loose Thread/Wednesday — 8/1/07

We’re two-thirds of the way through the summer months. If you’re like us, there’s still much that you’d like to accomplish before fall arrives. You can tell us what that is by using this thread. Or you can start your own threads with this Loose Thread …

Lewiston Tribune: Goodbye to Last Great Tabloid

In this May 3, 2000, AP file photo, Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. George W. Bush displays a copy of the tabloid Weekly World News to reporters during a light moment aboard his campaign plane while leaving Austin, Texas.

I blame Elvis Presley. Bigfoot may have had something to do with it, but although he remains a member of the Illuminati, he has lost a lot of clout. He fathered too many children out of wedlock. At 72, Presley is still the king. The fact that most people think he’s dead (and those who don’t are usually feather-plucking insane) only heightens his power to manipulate events. He is not only a member of the Illuminati, he presides over this group of shadowy conspirators responsible for everything bad from George W. Bush being president to the success of “The Pirate Master.” Now Presley and his cabal have killed the Weekly World News. And with it, they may have also killed the last vestige of great and courageous journalism. At least that would be the Weekly World News version of the story. The boring truth is that too many Americans are apathetic and no longer care whether or not Hillary Clinton is dating a space alien or Dick Cheney is a killer robot. The final issue of the Weekly World News rolls off the press Aug. 27. Wear black. This will be a sad day for journalism — Tom Henderson/Lewiston Tribune.

Full post here

Question: Did you ever look at the Weekly World News?

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