Thursday, November 24

Monday, November 21

Hardly A Measured Response

There can be no argument that the police departments of numerous American cities have had their hands full the last couple of weeks trying to maintain some semblance of civil order in the wake of the dozens of Occupy Wall Street protests. Meted out responses have run the full spectrum; from initially permitting the demonstrators unencumbered access and usage of public and private properties on which to stage their protest, to forcefully banning the continuation of the protest by dismantling their camp sites, with each adopted tactic meeting with varying degrees of acceptance and success.

Equally obvious is the understanding that no law enforcement agency or uniformed police officer is void of the inherent stress in the task of enforcing the laws designed to evenhandedly promote and secure the general welfare of the public. In doing so some individuals rights are going to ultimately be usurped and disenfranchised in order to better serve the greater good. Those select few who are charged with the responsibility "to protect and serve" in such occasions of civil disobedience are going to discover themselves to be caught in a quandary of having to make momentary decisions as to what degree of persuasion is to be brought to bear in the situation presented. For some police officers, as may be evidenced by the many instances where actual filmed footage has documented such confrontations, they are "damned if they do" and equally so if they don't.

Nevertheless, there are times when it is clearly evident that the employment of excessive force has been brought to bear on a situation in which otherwise a lesser means of enforcement would have proved successful in bringing about the desired end result. Such was the case when this past Friday two uniformed police officers, employed by the University of California-Davis, used pepper spray on a small and non-confrontational group of university students who had peacefully assembled for the purpose of expressing their united displeasure with the university's ever-increasing increase in tuition fees. If it may be deemed so, it is a minor blessing that the two officers were only armed with canisters of pepper spray and not assault rifles, as was the case during the so called "Kent State Massacre" in May of 1970 when four unarmed university students were killed and nine others wounded for having the audacity to protest President Nixon's announced escalation of the Viet Nam war. Differences of opinions and diverse ideologies too often have a way of becoming needlessly confrontational when one or more parties bring implements of immediate persuasion to the discussion. Thus was the deplorable case with the UC-Davis police department on Friday.

This personal opinion piece is not intended to support or refute the merits or the lack thereof of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, although strong opinions about the validity and veracity of the movement I do possess. I express only a profound disdain for the inhumane tactics that were employed on the UC-Davis campus. These students, as it is equally true for the current undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in all of our publicly funded universities and colleges in America, are painfully discovering and are having to confront the realization that the goal of acquiring a college education for the vast majority of middle class Americans, as well as those aspiring students who find themselves in lower classifications of economic wherewithal, is becoming more and more a luxury that only the more economically endowed can afford. To be pepper sprayed into accepting that premise as the new normal without the student's legitimate right to peacefully and constructively protest otherwise, if not a crime of unprovoked and unnecessary violence, it ought to be.

Higher education should never devolve into a private right, but be diligently protected and preserved as a public good. Pepper spraying defenceless students is not the manner by which to further that ideal.

Why Camels Don't Fly...

Pictured above is a brand new A340 Airbus, the largest passenger jet airliner ever manufactured for commercial production. Below is the same aircraft that met a catastrophic end when improperly operated by an Arab flight crew.

This particular Airbus was hangered in Toulouse, France, having yet to log a single hour of flight time, and was awaiting the scheduled acceptance and delivery to Eithad Airways of Abu Dhabi. Assigned to conduct the pre-delivery tests, that was to consist of only on-the-ground pre-flight procedures, was an Araba flight crew representing Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies. Having failed to take the time to read the run-up to take-off section of the aircraft's manual, the flight crew throttled up the four engines to full take-off power. Rocketing down the runway the on-board computers activated the take-off warning horn, thinking the empty aircraft had reached maximum take-off speed and rotation of the aircraft into the air should occur immediately. However, since the Arab crew had no intention of actually taking off, the flight controls to set the flaps and slats for that procedure had not been configured for an actual take-off.

To compound an already dire situation, one of the ADAT flight crew deactivated the Ground Proximity Sensor that silenced the take-off alarm. Another wrong decision. This fools the computer into thinking that the aircraft is actually in the air and flying. Automatically all of the aircraft's brakes are released, thus propelling the aircraft at even greater speed toward the end of the runway. Not one member of the seven-man crew recognized the imminent danger that was rushing towards them or they would have throttled back the jet engines from their maximum power setting. The brand-new aircraft plowed into the blast retaining barrier at the end of the runway, rendering the aircraft a total loss. Nine people on board and one on the ground where injured, three seriously.

The $200 million dollar "mishap" occurred on this past Thursday, November 15th, but a total reporting blackout of the incident was initiated by the major news media in France, deeming the coverage of the story would prove embarrassing and insulting to Muslim Arabs. Well, I can certainly emphasize with that sentiment. The Airbus should have had enough sense on its own not to crash.

Just goes to underscore the old admonishment, "When all else fails, read the instructions."

Saturday, November 19

Choking On The Rhetoric...


This past Wednesday afternoon our nation's indebtedness surpassed fifteen trillion dollars. Our elected officials in Washington D.C. are spending money as though it is merely gains of sand on a tropical beach. The appointed twelve members of the Super Committee, charged with the responsibility of trimming 1.2 trillion dollars in Federal spending reductions by next week, can't even agree on when to take a restroom break. But what are the illustrious members of the House of Representatives spending their otherwise unencumbered time? The all important and weighty issue of whether or not PIZZA is to be classified as a vegetable. Are you kidding me!?!

Let's slap these good old boys on the back and congratulate them on reaching a consensus that resulted in an approved bill that abandons a previous proposal on the table (pun intended) that would have removed the serving of french fries and pizza from federally funded school children's menus. Thank God. Pizza may indeed not stand the test of scrutiny when it comes to the best choice for a child to consume as a nutrition source, but the elimination of french fries? Well, that's damn near unamerican!

Listen, I'm not here to debate the merits, or lack thereof, of whether or not pizza is a vegetable or if french fries are truly French. The blatant fact of this gigantic waste of time is that the Federal government has no business sticking its dietary proclivities in the noses of what our children are consuming daily for lunch. What Congress should diligently be concerned is the increasing relationship between poverty and hunger in this country. The question looms, it's not about what our children are eating, but the fact that many are not eating anything nearly enough.

Three years after the onset of the 2008 financial and economic crisis, hunger remains alarmingly high in the United States. In 2010, 17.2 million households (approximately one in seven) were deemed "food insecure," the highest number ever recorded in this country. In 2010, children were food insecure at times during that year in 9.8 percent of households with children (3.9 million households.) Chew on these additional facts... The drop out rate of high school aged children overall, regardless of ethnicity, is over 10%, with some ethnic groups elevating that percentage far higher. In some U.S. cities the drop out rate is over 50%. Poverty in this country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's report released in September of this year, rose from 15.1% (46.2 million) in 2010, up from 14.3% (39.8 million) in 2009, and the number of individuals who find themselves in the criteria of being impoverished continues to climb. And our elected representatives can find nothing better to be concerned about is whether or not pizza is a vegetable? No wonder we citizens have bestowed a 9% rate of approval on this body of incompetents.

The business of education in this country needs to be permanently removed from the control of the Federal government. It needs to be reverted back to local control, where the local educators and parents can best determine how best to teach their children, how best to retain them and what is best to feed them. The laudable program of "No Child Left Behind" has no lasting merit or value if the child's parent has no job by which to have sufficient income to place nutritional food on the family table. The welfare of this nation is not to be relegated to a welfare state, wherein every malady's alleviation is the sole province of the Federal government. And to waste even a minute on the ludicrous subject of pizza vegetable worthiness speaks volumes on just how inane our system of governance on a national level has become. The hell with them. Let them eat cake! Then kick them out of office.