Entries from blogs tagged with “Creative Domain”
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jul/19/gilstrapmark.jpgThis just struck me as odd.Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley have sent a letter of support for Democrat Kelly Kultala in the Kansas 5th Senate District of Wyandotte and Leavenworth Counties.No big deal, right?Wrong. The leaders are opposing the re-election of fellow Democrat--and incumbent state senator--Mark Gilstrap. Sebelius and Hensley say Gilstrap is, well, too Republican.An excerpt from the AP article: "I would say Mark is a Democrat in name only," Hensley said Friday. "He increasingly has voted with the more conservative Republicans. If he wants to be a Republican, he should change parties. He hasn't supported defining issues where Democrats need to be Democrats."-----Gilstrap also supported Republican anti-abortion zealot Phill Kline for Attorney General in 2006.Here in South Dakota, we have nearly as many pro-life legislators who are Democrats than are pro-choice.Seems odd to me that Gov. Sebelius--who picked a prominent Republican for her Lt. Governor candidate--and is a poster child along with Presidential candidate Barack Obama for post-partisan politics--would try to take out one of their own as being too GOPish.Just strikes this Sunflower as a bit ironic.For more on Kansas politics read Kansas Watch at http://kswatch.squarespace.com
On the earth (Earth2) in the following story, President George H. W. Bush was reelected in 1992 with Ross Perot taking enough votes from Democrat Bill Clinton to prevent him from getting more than 35% of the popular vote. On Earth2 Ross Perot never dropped out of the race and Bush pursued a different campaign strategy. Bush directed his campaign against Perot creating confusion among less informed voters about who the Democratic candidate was. In 1996, Senator Bob Dole had locked up the Republican nomination, but was injured in a fall and felt he could not continue running. Party leaders convinced his wife Elizabeth to run instead. She was elected in 1996 and reelected in 2000. The Democratic Party ceased being a major party in presidential elections after the 1996 election. Many members of Congress stayed in the Democratic Party, but new members were mostly either Republicans or Reform Party members.Without Bill Clinton in the White House, the U.N. inspectors remained in Iraq and there was no reason to invade Iraq even if President Dole had been inclined to do so. A significant change occurred in Iraq when a disgruntled individual killed Saddam Hussein and his sons. Iraqi officials covered up the deaths to prevent a civil war and used Hussein's clones to give the appearance he was still alive. Only Russia and Egypt (both of which had different leaders) knew they were dead, but most western governments suspected it and were afraid to publicize their suspicions. 9/11 occurred as on our earth and NATO invaded Afghanistan.The Israel on Earth2 had kept its provisional capital in Tel Aviv instead of moving it to Jerusalem. As the story opens in early 2005 Israel and the Palestinians have reached a peace agreement with both planning to establish their capitals in Jerusalem later in the year. Both Christians and Jews observe Easter and Passover according to the same calendar.The 2004 election marked the first victory for Ross Perot's Reform Party, although he wasn't the candidate. Both members of the winning ticket had helped Perot make a strong showing in 1992. The vice presidential candidate had been elected to Congress in the same election. The presidential candidate was a political science professor who had helped divert a portion of the black vote to Perot. He subsequently wrote a novel about the first black president and was persuaded to play the central character in the movie based on the book. His students convinced him to run for governor of California.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jul/18/l6970413195_4006.jpgThe pro-Rep. Nancy Boyda blog Boyda Bloc has an interesting post on the Kansas Second District's use of social media and the number of "friends" she, former Rep. Jim Ryun and State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins have. Boyda is winning the Facebook and Myspace "elections" quite handily.Two years ago this would have been big news. Campaigns were just starting to play with social media sites like Facebook. Now, even local candidates have social media weaponry in their arsenal. And why not? It is free, you can control the message, and you can engage voters.What Boydaites didn't profile, however, was there own use of another social media tool, Twitter. BoydaBloc is a very active user of Twitter (think of instant messaging on steroids), letting followers (all 22 right now) know what Rep. Boyda is up to as well as news and responses.My search of Republicans challengers Ryun and Jenkins didn't turn up the use of Twitter by them or their campaigns.So, chalk up another "victory" for Rep. Boyda-if not in Kansas, in cyberspace. Though I would imagine the winner of the Ryan v. Jenkins faceoff will likely join Boyda on Twitter. If not, it would be a mistake.For more on Kansas politics, read Kansas Watch at http://www.kswatch.squarespace.com
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jul/18/Kline-Color-738498_.jpg The Pro-life America.com blog has a plea from a reader saying that Johnson County D.A. Phill Kline needs to raise $300,000 in a week for his primary battle.$300,000? In a week? For Jo Co D.A.?An excerpt of the plea:Now, Kline needs the help of the nationwide pro -life community. There is no one else but us. The only way Kline can get his message of truth out is to go around the Kansas City Star with a final days, aggressive, multi -faceted ad campaign. (Recall KCS has pounded Kline since the day he took office, re-earning the "Maggie Award" PP gave it in 2006 for helping unseat Kline in the Attorney General's race.) Phill needs to raise $300,000 in a week. To reach that goal, http://www.StandwithPhill.com [/a] has launched a "$50 for Phill" campaign. 6,000 people or families must contribute. Please be one. View this inspiring video of Kline's long battle to bring PP to justice (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msU1K-... [/a]) and then participate in the "$50 for Phill" campaign to help him get his word out around the liberal media. If Kline doesn't win on August 5, the 5 year battle to get the only criminal case against PP will be lost forever.-----That amount of money would elect four or five attorneys general in South Dakota. I would imagine it would elect at least one or two AGs in Kansas.That's a lot of money for a local D.A. gig.Seems like this is more of an appeal against Planned Parenthood than it is because Phill is such a great guy and lawyer.I'm just saying.Also read the "home" edition of Kansas Watch at http://kswatch.squarespace.com
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jul/18/slattery2.jpgI really like Jim Slattery. I hope he defeats Sen. Pat Roberts in the U.S. Senate race.And given the negative tone-so early-by Robert's latest ad, Kansas senior Senator must be a little bit concerned.But for the Kansas Democratic Party to file a complaint about it with the Federal Election Commission?Come on, Jim. This is politics. It's not touch football. Robert's ad, while not particularly flattering, isn't defamatory and appears based on facts. Jim was a lobbyist.The KDP thinks the disclaimer isn't clear enough. I don't know how much clearer you can get than "I'm Pat Roberts and I approve of this message" at the top of the TV ad.I don't think it helps Slattery's image as a fighter and an agent of change if he cries foul when his opponent hits him with a tough ad. Jim, suck it up and respond. Talk about what you did as a lobbyist. Talk about what you did as a U.S. Representative. More importantly, talk about what you'll do as U.S. Senator.Running off to tattle to mom that Pat was mean to you isn't the right message to send the voters.Here's the ad. Draw your own conclusions.To read more on Kansas politics, go to Kansas Watch at http://kswatch.squarespace.com
Theoretical physicists talk about the possibility of alternate or parallel universes as part of quantum physics. According to the theory certain quantum events would occur in one way in one universe and the opposite way in a parallel universe. In such universes one or more events that happen on our earth might happen differently in another universe. For example, on another earth Richard Nixon might have been elected president in 1960 or Al Gore might have moved into the White House in January, 2001. On one earth a man named George Bailey might have been born in the town of Bedford Falls. On another earth no such person would be born in the town in the same location named Pottersville.I use this device in science fiction stories. Using parallel earths allows stories about how different events or persons could produce different situations on a planet like ours. The various Startrek series occasionally used this device with characters able to travel to parallel universes. I use the concept in this context as well as in the context of parallel star systems. Such stories involve people from earth visiting such planets and attempting to help the residents of those planets avoid the mistakes earth made. All of my stories will be set on parallel earths, but this situation won't always be obvious.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jul/17/headerImg1.jpgHere's Republican Second District House Candidate Lynn Jenkin's new TV ad distilled to its essence:Washington bad, taxes bad, I'm a CPA, illegal immigrants bad, I'm a CPA, taxes bad, I'm a CPA, vote for me!Or as cartoonist Gary Larson might have put it, "Lynn Jenkins blah blah blah, Lynn Jenkins blah blah blah."Read more about Kansas politics, go to Kansas Watch at http://kswatch.squarespace.com
In previous posts I discussed the abuse of babies for profit by NBC on its reality show "The Baby Borrowers,"If you agree that this series should be ended you can protest in various ways. You can tell NBC what you think on the NBC FORUMYou can protest to your local NBC affiliate about the program. You could also file a protest with the FCC, although the situation would not seem to fit into a specific category of protest topics on their website.You can link to Dr. Jan Hunt's letter criticizing the show on your blog, post it on sites that reprint articles from other sites or write a letter to your local newspaper.You can contact your Senators and Representative in Congress to request a congressional investigation of the program with the possibility of prohibiting television from using children, especially babies, in reality shows. Congress should at the very least require NBC and its advertisers for the program to establish a trust fund to cover any subsequent mental health problems the children might experience because of the program. Currently only California has legislation protecting child actors from exploitation by the entertainment industry and "stage mothers".Many child actors have experienced serious psychological problems as adults. Paul Peterson who played Jeff Stone, the son on "The Donna Reed" show, has spoken out for years on the problems of child actors. You can contact the companies that advertised on the program and request that they not advertise on any future programs in the series. A partial list of advertisers includes: Verizon Wireless, Tylenol, Subway, Mentos gum, Hot Pockets, Klondike Bar, All Bran, Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep, T_Mobile, Wanted, (Pizza Hut) CoffeeMate, Samsung, Listerine, Vagisil, All State.
Public policy is tricky. You need 51% of some legislative body and a signature to put anything into effect. In the process the policy is shaped and frequently misshaped to get votes. Upon implementation there are usually negative and unintended consequences. Then there is the minority that didn't vote for it and still think it is bad public policy.It was refreshing to read the results of a research study that showed a 26-27% reduction in the probability of college students driving after drinking away from their college home after implementation of "zero tolerance" driving under the influence laws. This public policy was part of the National Highway Systems Designation Act of 1995 that included a provision that states would be subject to withholding of Federal-Aid Highway Funds if they did not define a 0.02 BAC level or lower for drivers under age 21 as driving while intoxicated. Kansas and all of the other states quickly changed state laws to implement this 'zero tolerance' policy. The details of this evaluation are too numerous to put in a few hundred words so I will only outline the study and refer interested readers to the report referenced below.The data came from the College Alcohol Study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health. This is a periodic survey of students enrolled in a representative sample of American institutions of higher education. This study used survey results for 1993, 1997, 1999 allowing comparisons before and after policy implementation. They include a lot of additional data to attempt to rule out other explanations for the results. Not surprisingly college age students drink. In all three years of the survey two-thirds of students reported drinking in the previous month and almost half reported binge drinking in the prior two weeks. The study compared drinking 'at home' (their college residence) to drinking away from home since drinking away for home is more likely to involve driving. They found that zero tolerance laws were associated with; - a 3-4% reduction in binge drinking; - a 14-17% reduction in drinking and driving; - a 26-27% reduction in driving after drinking away from home. - There was no evidence that drinking at home increased after the implementation of zero tolerance laws.This public policy had a large positive impact but didn't solve the problem. A large percentage of students surveyed after implementation of zero tolerance laws still reported drinking and driving. For those drinking away from home 30% still reported driving after drinking. There is still work to be done.Liang, L. & Huang, J. (2008). Go out or stay in? The effects of zero tolerance laws on alcohol use and drinking and driving patterns among college students. Health Economics. Published online in Wiley Interscience (www. interscience.wiley.com)
Once again the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) has issued 'Request for Proposals' (RFP) for family preservation and reintegration foster care and adoption services. This is an arcane part of the Kansas child welfare system that has important implications for all citizens. These contracts will affect the lives of thousands of children and families in Kansas and result in spending millions of our tax dollars.This post is about just one sentence in the Family Preservation RFP: "The purpose of this Request is to solicit the design and implementation of an evidence based practice model for family preservation program in designated geographic regions in Kansas." Sound good, doesn't it?The phrase evidence based practice means using the intervention that has the best research evidence that it is effective. This is like going to your doctor with a medical problem and expecting her or him to suggest the medicine or procedure that has been shown to be most effective in resolving the problem. What is particularly interesting is that the phrase 'evidence based practice' does NOT appear in the Reintegration Foster Care and Adoption Services RFP. This RFP states: "SRS seeks to continue the quality of the Child Welfare service system, provide for safety and stability in placement, and achieve timely permanencies for children."Safety, stability and permanency are three important child welfare results, in part dictated by the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 that guides much of child welfare in the states. For each of these outcomes evidence based practices exist. Some of these practices are more powerful than others but there is a growing research literature in the field.Take stability in placement for example. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has standards for stability. One of these is that a child placed in foster care will have 2 or fewer placements during the each 12 month period in placement. Kansas does not meet this standard.DHHS has asked SRS what they will do to improve performance regarding placement stability. In response SRS identified several steps in what is called a Program Improvement Plan. This plan does not include one word about evidence based practices. Even though there is a fairly well tested intervention call Multidimensional Foster Care that has demonstrated through rigorous research that it improves placement stability. The old adage is that you get what you pay for. We are not likely to get the best foster care results because SRS is not asking child welfare contractors to use the best available interventions. This is kind of like asking you doctor if he or she is recommending the best available medical solution and getting the response. "Well I don't really know. I do the best I can."
Director of the Natural Child Project child psychologist Dr. Jan Hunt, who is the director of the is very concerned about the potential negative impact of the treatment of the babies on the NBC reality series "Baby Borrowers". Hunt is concerned that the separation from parents could increase production of the stress hormone cortisol in the babies: "When cortisol is produced due to emotional stress, the next stressful experience creates an even larger surge of cortisol. By the time a stressed child reaches adulthood, he is likely to overreact to all stressful situations, making it harder to cope with life's challenges. For all these reasons, babies and young children should be kept as stress-free as possible, to protect their future psychological and physical health."http://www.naturalchild.org/jan_hunt/baby_borrowers.htmlI have a long standing interest in how the brain develops and functions. At one time I was considering going into the field of what is called "artificial intelligence" which involves simulating human intelligence on a computer, but decided I was more interested in dealing with the actual ideas rather than the detailed process the brain uses to form them. Much of the baby's brain development involves developing brain cells to control the muscles for movement of various parts of the body, eventually including the complex process of speaking. The baby also develops neurons to store information about the baby's environment. Baby's normally don't form specific memories about individual events in their lives, but they use those events to learn how to react to their environment in the future. Babies don't remember what actually happened on early birthdays and Christmases, but they may remember these events as happy events to look forward to.Babies may remember what they consider traumatic events in a general fashion. For example, adults' fear of receiving shots may result from a memory of vaccinations received as infants. Claustrophobia and other fears sometimes are the result of very unpleasant childhood experiences. The sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic Church have publicized the fact that children may suppress memories of sexual abuse for long periods of time, but suffer from psychological problems during that period. For a baby a traumatic experience doesn't necessarily involve anything wrong or illegal. For a baby a doctor's exam can be a very unpleasant experience.Babies may not remember how they have been "mistreated", but they may associate similar situations or people with a similar appearance to that mistreatment. A baby who was particularly upset by an exam by a doctor with a mustache might in the future have a negative reaction to men with mustaches. Babies respond differently to the same situations depending upon their genetics and experiences and possibly the way their brains have developed prior to the event. Not all babies react the same way to being separated from the parents and put in the care of individuals with no child care experience. The babies in this experiment may suffer psychological problems sometime in the future. that may be triggered by persons or situations that remind the baby, child or even adult of something "bad" that happened during the experiment.
NBC is abusing small children by using them for a "social experiment" and profit on a show airing on Wednesday's at 8 EDT/ 7 CDT beginning June 25 called "The Baby Borrowers" . On the program teenagers pretend to be the parents of babies by substituting for the babies' real parents.Dr. Jan Hunt director of the Natural Child Project says: "As a parent, child psychologist and family counselor, I am deeply concerned about the premise of your new show "The Baby Borrowers," and for the present and future emotional health of the babies and young children whose lives will be so strongly affected." Scientists have only limited knowledge of how the brain develops in young children. Babies cannot say how they feel. The information the baby receives and its feelings about the information influences how the neurons in the brain develop. Scientists know that events in a baby's life can positively or negatively affect brain development. According to the news story about the show on the network's Wichita, Ks., affiliate KSNW, the people appearing on the show are volunteers who are not compensated. How does a baby volunteer to be on a television show? Using children as performers on a commercial television show without payment should be illegal if it isn't already. If adults are stupid enough to appear on a commercial television show without compensation they should be allowed to do so. But children should not be exploited for profit by heartless television networks. How can the network know the reasons why these parents allowed NBC to exploit their babiesSmall children should not be used for experiments with the only possible exception being controlled experiments conducted by professional scientists that pose zero threat to the physical or mental health of the children. The program claims to show teens how to be parents by taking care of the children for an extended period. Does that mean the babies are working longer than babies would be allowed to work if they were paid television actors? Hollywood typically has used twins for very small children on television shows to avoid overworking the children.The program claims to be a "reality show", but the situation is not realistic. The teen guinea pig parents cannot relate to their pretend babies in the same way a real parent would. The babies will not relate to total strangers the way they would to their parents. I have heard enough about the psychological problems many former child actors had to believe that children should only be used in television programs if absolutely necessary. This program is not necessary.
Don Jordan is the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). As far as I know he is not running for president. Yet one could be confused since remarks he made on March 18 were still receiving national attention as recently as last Saturday. Groups from Colorado and Washington DC jumped on Don's statement about Sedgwick County prosecutors bullying child protection services caseworkers. Of course officials from Wichita and even Governor Sebelius had to comment. I don't know a thing about the group Citizens for Change or what Don was trying to say. I do know that child welfare is by nature a complex and contentious enterprise.According to the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform and the American Family Advocacy Center, the out of state groups, children are removed from their Sedgwick County homes at a higher rate than New York City or Los Angeles. I did some checking with mixed results. According to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Census Bureau in 2005 the state of Kansas placed 4.65 children in foster care for every 1000 children in the population. This compares to 2.5 for New York State and 4.54 for California. Data was not available for New York City or Los Angeles. So it looks like Kansas places a higher proportion of children into foster care.Data from the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tell a different story. For purposes of full disclosure, I retired from this institution in 2002. This Center issues yearly reports on the Illinois child welfare system and how it compares with other states. Their 2006 report includes child non-removal rates. In other words how states are doing keeping families together. This report shows that New York and Kansas are about equal in terms of child non-removal and that California performs less well.Actually these comparisons are not helpful. Child welfare is a state enterprise. The state legislature determines what constitutes child abuse, neglect or other situations that can be used to remove a child from their home. That would be us acting through our state senators and representatives. Juvenile judges intervene in Kansas families by making a decision to find a child a "Child in Need of Care" (CINC). This can then lead to placing the child in foster care. To do this they follow our directions as codified in the Kansas Code for the Care of Children that is Kansas Statutes 38-2202 (http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes). That is where we define what constitutes a CINC. Some people think that child protective services in Kansas is about child abuse and neglect. Our definition for a CINC is much broader than that. According to the SRS website currently 78.7% of investigations are for the non-abuse or neglect category of beyond proper control. Beyond proper control is the very first part of the definition of CINC. "Child in need of care" means a person less than 18 years of age who: (1) Is without adequate parental care, control or subsistence and the condition is not due solely to the lack of financial means of the child's parents or other custodian (Kansas Statutes 38-2202). This is a very vague statement. I dare say that most youth would meet this condition at some time in their young lives. This is just one of 13 ways of becoming a CINC. In other words it is not Don Jordan, the Sedgwick County District Attorney, SRS caseworkers or even juvenile judges that are responsible for determining the criteria for removing a child from their home. It is us. If there are groups that want to change this, start where you can make a real difference and influence the legislature to change the definition of a child in need of care.
A recent report of a study of young adults who had been placed in foster care as adolescents found that those in a program with caseworkers of higher levels of education and salaries, lower caseloads and access to more services had fewer mental problems, ulcers and cardiometabolic disorders . This was not a study that randomly assigned foster youth to these two types of care so it is well to be cautious in going too far with the results. Yet it is a very promising finding. We know too little about the effects of foster care. We know that some children thrive and go on to be productive members of the community. Other children leaving foster care have troubled lives involving substance abuse, homelessness and criminal activity. We need to know what makes the difference.It is good to know that enhancing foster care seems to make a positive difference in the lives of youth. At what cost? The report includes 2 items regarding cost. Enhanced foster care cost 60% more. The youth who were in the enhanced foster care group spent nearly 2 more years in care than the other group.Would our community agree to spend 60% more on foster care then we do now? As a state we are having difficulty funding K through 12 education. We can't figure out how to have all of our citizens covered by health insurance. We have backed off of funding higher education. Increasing foster care funding by 60% doesn't seem realistic.A note of caution. This study only involved adolescents. They are just a part of the foster care caseload and we don't know if the same type of enhanced foster care would have the same results for younger children. So if we only funded enhanced foster care for adolescents, total foster care funding would not have to increase 60%.The second cost of spending nearly 2 more years in foster care raises a more difficult question. Isn't foster care supposed to be temporary? One idea behind foster care is that children should only be placed out of their home when they are in danger and that a safe and permanent home should be found as quickly as possible preferably with their own legal family. The findings of this study turn this on its head.In this society we are constantly balancing the value of family independence and autonomy against the interests of the larger community. This study suggests that larger community interests regarding these youth might supersede family interests. On the other hand how about the idea of enhanced family services? Perhaps it is time for a study of what adolescents like those in the study might achieve with enhanced services within their own home.Kessler, R.C. et al. (2008). Effects of enhanced foster care on the long-term physical and mental health of foster care alumni. Archives of General Psychiatry. Vol. 65, No. 6.
The states of Michigan and Florida need to tell the Democratic Party to seat their delegates with full voting rights or face the prospect of not having a presidential candidate on the November ballot in those states. Alternatively, these states should seek a federal injunction preventing the Democrats from conducting a nominating convention unless it gives equal rights to the residents of Michigan and Florida. Allowing a small group of Democrats to deny voters in their states the equal right to participate in the presidential candidate selection process would be a violation of the oath state officials take to defend the Constitution.The Democrats order that Barack Obama be given Michigan delegates demonstrates the Democrats have complete contempt for the electoral process because Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot. Michigan at the very least should sue the Democratic Party to force it to assign delegates based on the will of the voters rather than the will of authoritarian party leaders.In Nazi Germany and the old Soviet Union a political party offiicial could be more powerful than government officials. In communist states the head of the communist party has often been the most powerful person in the country because he determines who holds the government offices. In the United States, government officials elected by the people are supposed to be more powerful than political party officers. At one time in the U.S. political party leaders chose political candidates in secret to insure the candidates would serve whatever special interests controlled the party. State governments created the political primary system to eliminate this form of corruption and insure popular control over the candidate selection process.In a true democracy. anyone should be able to run for office who meets the legal qualifications. However the existence of two major parties makes it difficult for anyone to win an election without the endorsement of one of the two parties. Primary elections are a means of preventing private groups from taking over the election process and limiting who can run for office. The Democatic Party is attempting to circumvent the popular selection of candidates by claiming it can tell states when they can hold presidential primaries. Allowing political parties to order state governments to follow party orders rather than the will of the people in the respective states is a direct assault on the idea of government by the people and a movement to the type of political system of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.Both major parties have small groups within them whose members believe their party should adopt a strict ideological approach to issues as is common with political parties in totalitarian states. If Congress is not going to act to insure that the presidential nominating process is open to all, the states must act. Congress is the only body that has the constitutional authority to control when state governments can set presidential primaries. If party leaders believe limits on when primaries can be held are needed, they should ask Congress to impose such limits. The political parties should not attempt to dictate to the states like the Nazi Party and the Communist Party did.
You've seen the following plot dozens of times on television. The police decide a death is an accident or suicide and someone like Jim Rockford, Harry Orwell or maybe Jessica Fletcher has to convince the police the death was a murder.Today two real live Harry Orwells, retired NYPD detectives Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, are attempting to convince law enforcement officers in many jurisdictions that a series of drownings are murders rather than accidents or suicides. Like the cops on PI shows the police in most of these cases have taken the easy way out and written the cases off so they don't have to risk investigating crimes that might be very difficult to solve. The Federal Bureau Investigation isn't interested if local police don't think there is a problem.The investigation began with the death of college student Patrick McNeill, who drowned in New York City in 1997. Gannon made a promise to McNeill's parents that he would never give up on his case. They have already convinced Minnesota authorities that the death of University of Minnesota student Christopher Jenkins was a homicide instead of an accident. They believe 40 or more college men have been murdered many by drowning them in rivers, even in winter. In the best tradition of "CSI" they have examined data on river currents to determine where each body likely entered the water. Subsequent examinations of the area around the points of entry has revealed various different smiley faced graffiti. I saw an 60's or 70's era movie about urban terrorism years ago. The only thing I remember about the movie is the quote: "Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is enemy action." The number of drowning deaths of men with similar characteristics with the associated smiley face indicates the work of a serial killer or killers. The fact that nine were students at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse is particularly suspicious. The idea of murdering people by drowning them isn't new. Characters in old gangster movies often talked about this method of eliminating someone, although the victim was often first fitted with "cement overshoes" so the body wouldn't be found. In murder mysteries victims might be drowned in bathtubs, swimming pools, rivers or the ocean.Drowning provides certain advantages to murderers. There is no murder weapon for the police to find and link the murderer to the crime. The water may wash off any DNA or fiber evidence. Getting the victim into the water can present a problem when the victim isn't cooperative, especially if the victim starts yelling. The possibility of being seen also increases the risk of being caught. The first problem can be reduced if the victim is drunk which is one of the similarities of the victims in the smiley face murders. Putting the victim in the water at night, especially during cold weather would also reduce risk. Night fishing isn't as common in cold weather as it is in warm weather so there would be less chance of someone seeing the crime. The fact that people sometimes drown accidentally or commit suicide by drowning benefits murderers, particularly if law enforcement officers don't want to bother with cases that are difficult to solve. A drowning death might reasonably be classified as an accident if the person was known to be swimming at the time, was at a party along a river bank or perhaps drowned near his or her residence particularly if impaired by alcohol or medication. However, a drowning should be considered suspicious if the police cannot place the person in the vicinity of the place where he or she entered the water or there is anything suspicious about the condition of the body, such as the placement of the arms in some cases studied by Gannon and Duarte. If the person had been drinking before the death, the police need to determine if the person was physically able to get to the point where the body entered the water particularly if the drowning didn't occur near the route the person would take to get home. If the victims were predominately black instead of predominately white, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson would be screaming for an investigation. If the victims were female, the news media would be speculating about another Ted Bundy. So, why is the FBI refusing to investigate the case? Don't the feds think white males can be the victims of crimes?What if the 40 deaths had involved some symptoms that might indicate a disease? For example, what if all of those who had died had reported muscle aches followed by a rash and then an extremely high fever. The Center of Disease Control and the World Health Organization would both be investigating to determine if there was a common cause for the deaths. The CDC would want to know if those who died had had physical contact or perhaps contact with the same individual or individuals. Perhaps they all could have consumed the same food product before becoming sick. Health officials would rather investigate something that doesn't turn out to be a crisis than risk having an epidemic develop because they didn't take the situation seriously enough. AIDS was discovered because doctors became suspicious after noticing the increasing appearance of previously rare disorders.Shouldn't the FBI be just as diligent in investigating a possible criminal epidemic? The FBI is supposed to be the nation's premier law enforcement agency. Local law enforcement agencies are often underfunded and understaffed. They may not have the type of facilities and personnel seen on CSI. They may be prone to concentrate on obvious crimes instead of attempting to deal with situations that might or might not involve crimes. Local departments are unlikely to recognize serial crimes that occur in many different jurisdictions. Gannon and Duarte believe more than one killer might be involved because in some cases deaths occurred in more than one state on the same day. Who could be the killer or killers? The fact the victims were men could indicate female killers, perhaps women wanting to emulate Aileen Wuornos who admitted to killing 7 men. A woman could lure a man by promising sex or pretending to need help with her car. A satanic cult is an obvious possibility. The fact the victims tended to be successful in sports, academics and/or popular could indicate the killers are young males with similar attitudes of the Columbine High School killers. Members of an informal group might link to each other on the Internet and help each other plan the attacks. Perhaps I'm expecting too much from the FBI. After all today's FBI isn't the FBI of Ephrem Zimbalist's Inspector Lewis Erskine.Today's FBI is the organization whose leaders didn't think the number of Saudis learning to fly airliners in 2001 was worth investigating. Today's FBI couldn't figure out that a man who wanted to learn how to fly airliners, but not land them, might be planning to hijack an airliner and crash it into something. The FBI initially believed the DC sniper was a lone white male instead of the two black males they eventually caught.If the FBI refuses to investigate and the Smiley Face deaths turn out to be murders rather than a bizarre coincidence, Congress needs to consider replacing the FBI with a real law enforcement agency that is capable of protecting us from criminals and terrorists.The killings thus far seem to be primarily in farther north along the I-95 corridor, but there is no guarantee that Lawrence and KU are safe if the killers aren't caught.
Yes that is the sales tax rate in Lawrence and it can be cut in half. No tax protest required. We don't need to cut spending. We don't need to toss out the city commission, county commission or the legislature. We need to reconsider what is not subject to the sales tax.In Kansas the sales tax was instituted in 1937. Since then the legislature has been busy letting selected sales off the hook. There are now more than 73 exclusions or exemptions. That number is from John Wong's 2006 study and does not include the last 3 legislative sessions (Sales Tax Erosion in Kansas, http://www.ksrevenue.org/pdf/sales_tax_erosion_ks.pdf). Each time the legislature changes the sales tax a new paragraph is added to KSA 79-3603. That is the Kansas Retailers' Sales Tax law. Take a look at http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatuteInfo.do. Reading it makes my head spin. Each exclusion, exemption, addition or whatever is given a letter starting with a. The latest paragraph is 'aaaa.' That means we are starting on our fourth run through the alphabet. This must be one of the legislature's favorite activities. I wonder what was changed this year.Fortunately John Wong's study is more understandable and necessarily simplified. The three largest non sales tax categories are: ¢ Exclusion of component parts and items consumed in production resulting in a 2005 tax loss of $2.3 billion.¢ Exclusion of government and nonprofit purchases resulting in a 2005 tax loss of $300 million.¢ Exemption of services resulting in a 2005 tax loss of $1.9 billion.Actual sales tax receipts in 2005 according to Wong were $1.9 billion. We could easily get that amount of money with a tax rate of 3.65% (half of 7.3%) by rethinking the exclusions and exemptions.I know there are 'good' reasons for each and every sale not subject to the sales tax. Exclusion of component parts and items consumed in production helps Kansas businesses. We all need jobs.Why would we ask government entities to pay sales tax when they would just need to raise other taxes or reduce services to pay for it?Why not help out nonprofit organizations with a sales tax exemption? They would just need to raise more money without the exemption. Except, not all nonprofits are exempt from sales taxes. Take a look at the list at http://www.ksrevenue.org/pecentitylearnmore.htm. If your favorite nonprofit is not listed it is apparently because you haven't asked your local legislator to submit a bill to add that organization to the list. Incidentally, Victory in the Valley is paragraph 'aaaa' the latest addition prior to this legislative session.The trouble with all of these 'reasonable' exemptions and exclusions is that the sales tax base just keeps getting smaller requiring a higher tax rate to generate the same amount of revenue. When we go to the grocery store we pay 7.3% rather than 3.65%. So low and middle income families have a more difficult time and pay more of their income in sales taxes than other families. We need to broaden, not narrow the sales tax base. ¢ Why not tax some services. Our economy is based more and more on services rather than manufacturing products. In 2005 consumption of services was 59% of all personal consumption expenditures a radical change from 1937 (Wong, 2006). ¢ Let's rethink some of our current exemptions. Examine each exemption with the thought that eliminating it would not increase revenue but reduce the tax rate. At a minimum we could require the legislature to replace each new $1 of sales exempted from sales tax by adding some other item.¢ Or we could be really radical and do away with the sales tax and raise that revenue through a more progressive state income tax.
One problem with political activists is that they don't realize that sometimes a party may be better off losing an election than winning it. For example, Democrats won the 1976 presidential election, but lost the next three because of the performance of their candidate after he became president. Jimmy Carter was capable of being a more effective president than he was. He just made a mistake of picking a bad time to be elected to the office. Democrats made the mistake of winning the 1992 election with Bill Clinton who promptly lost control of both houses of Congress. I'm not impressed by any of the three remaining presidential candidates and doubt that any of them is likely to win reelection. John McCain is the only one with the experience to be a half way effective president. Clinton's and Obama's lack of any executive experience means either would take a couple of years to learn the job by which time the Republicans would take control of Congress. Hillary would have an advantage over Obama because husband Bill would be available to advise her.Republicans may not realize it but an Obama victory could give them control of the White House in 2012 and possibly for the 20 years to follow.
Unless some other candidate enters the race I will be voting for you in November. However, that is only because neither of the likely Democratic candidates has the experience to be the nation's Chief Executive Officer. Your acceptance of the nonsense about purported "global warming", which Meteorologist John Coleman calls "the greatest scam in history", indicates a level of gullibility that is undesirable in presidents. I can understand how American leaders would believe that Saddam Hussein still had significant amounts of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Hussein had used such weapons in the past and there was no evidence he had destroyed them. U.N. inspectors discovered unloaded nerve gas shells shortly before the U.S. invaded Iraq. However, there is no evidence for "global warming". There is no evidence of any significant temperature change other than the normal rise and fall of temperatures over time. The earth has warm years and cool years, warm decades and cool decades. The process that is supposed to produce global warming is physically impossible. Those who claim the existence of global warming admit that temperatures only changed by 1 F or 0.17% during the entire 20th Century. A one degree variation is insignificant considering that daily temperatures fluctuate by 20 - 30 F and by over 100 F from winter to summer in temperate areas during the year. The passage of a strong cold front can drop temperatures by 30 F in a matter of hours.A one degree change over a century could easily be explained by differences in equipment or changes in the locations where the equipment is located. Today's equipment is of questionable reliability. Many sites have characteristics that artificially produce higher temperatures. Temperature varies by more than one degree in different parts of my yard. Temperatures went up and down during the 20th Century and have declined since 1998. The concept of a global average temperature itself is of questionable value.Jean Baptiste Fourier first suggested that infrared radiation (IR) from the surface heated the atmosphere, but Fourier also believed that star light could heat the earth. He believed that gas molecules converted the radiation into heat. Niels Bohr demonstrated in his Nobel Prize winning research that absorption of specific wavelengths of light by gas molecules changed the energy state of their electrons rather than causing them to become hotter.Land and water heat the air by conduction rather than radiation. 70% of the earth's surface is water which is a very poor radiator anyway. Supporters of global warming have failed to provide any evidence that the low energy radiation produced by earth's surface can heat anything.Those who believe in global warming claim that it is caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) trapping a small range of IR. However, physicist R.W. Wood, who invented IR photography, demonstrated in 1909 that the process of trapping IR didn't cause greenhouses to stay warm. Instead they stayed warm because they trapped heated air which doesn't readily lose heat energy by converting it into radiation. His experiment used solid barriers to trap IR. CO2 is less than 400 parts per million in the atmosphere and is hardly capable of trapping IR the way the solid barriers Wood used could.Ferenc Miskolczi resigned in protest from NASA after it suppressed a study indicating that the equations used to show CO2 would cause substantial global warming contained a serious flaw that rendered the equations invalid. His corrected equations show no warming.Dr. Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner in their essay "Falsification of the Atmospheric Greenhouse Effects Within the Framework of Physics" argue that the process global warming believers talk about would be a perpetual motion machine that physicists claim would violate the laws of physics.
The recent editorial assaults on Rev. Jeremiah Wright amount to a virtual "lynching" of him.Fifty years ago the southern white Democratic elite would have used the word "uppity" to describe an outspoken preacher like Rev. Wright. Today the predominently white elite that controls the national Democratic Party probably doesn't use the word, but the recent attacks against Rev.Wright indicates the elite may have the same attitude toward black preachers who disagree with the views of the elite.When politicians associate with white preachers who make comments editors disagree with, the editors criticize the politicians. So why when a black preacher makes comments the editors disagree with, do the editors criticize the preacher?The New York Times editor criticized Rev. Wright because "Mr. Wright" has "said the government manufactured the AIDS virus to kill blacks" and "he suggested that America was guilty of 'terrorism' and so had brought the 9/11 attacks on itself."The Hutchinson News has said: "The Rev. Jeremiah Wright needs to shut up."Religious leaders often explain calamities as punishment for immoral actions by government or society. Some U.S. government actions such as the bombing of the Chinese embassy during the Kosovo incident or supporting tyrants could be considering support for terrorism. Why should Rev. Wright be prohibited from making such statements?I doubt that the government deliberately manufactured the HIV/AIDS virus, but I recognize that such an action could have occurred. Among the possibilities is that employees within the biological weapons research program might have released such a virus without authorization or by accident.Those who attempt to censor someone for suggesting government might have done something wrong often do so to prevent discovery of the truth. If editors don't believe government created the HIV/AIDS virus, why are they afraid to have anyone mention the subject?Former President Jimmy Carter was recently on the Tonight Show. Jay Leno mentioned that Carter's mother Lillian had occasionally made controversial statements. Would today's editors have told Lillian Carter to shut up or expected Jimmy Carter to rebuke his mother?It's clear that the white elite that controls the Democratic Party believes that if Rev. Wright wants to ride on Barack Obama's bandwagon that Wright should stay in the background and keep quiet.I'm not concerned about Barack Obama's pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright expressing views I disagree with. I am concerned about Obama's newspaper editors who feel it is part of their job to conduct character assassinations of people who might stand in the way in Obama's drive for power.The idea that religious leaders should have to adjust their views to benefit politicians, especially someone wanting to be president, should scare anyone who believes that the state should not control the church.