The United Nations fought to keep the United States from ending the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. The United Nations did everything possible to avoid enforcing its own resolutions calling for Iraq to disarm. The United Stations failed to keep Saddam Hussein from looting the U.N.'s oil-for-food program for his personal benefit. When Iraq was liberated and oil sales were needed top rebuild it economy, some members sought to keep the sanctions that no longer were needed. When United Nations food service workers went on strike, United Nations diplomats broke into and looted their own stores and eateries.
Yet the Journal Star continues to view the United Nations as, if not the only source of moral authority in the world, certainly one more moral than the United States. Case in point: the Journal Star editorial of May 16, "Enlist U.N. to help bring order to Iraq." The edit does a fairly complete job of pointing out that Iraq has a crime problem. What it lacks is perspective. It fails to mention that few months before the war, Saddam Hussein freed around 100,000 prisoners, most of them hardened criminals, and these hard-core criminals are responsible for the much of the serious violence. The editorial also does not mention that many reports of looting of Iraqi national treasures have been debunked. Also not mentioned is that the harshest critics of the "chaos" have been those Islamic clerics who wish to turn Iraq into another Iran, and have an interest in portraying the U.S. as poor leaders of post-war Iraq. Rather, the editorial portrays does the Islamacists a favor by portraying the United States as totally unprepared for conditions after the fall of Hussein. In its typical two-faced fashion, the editorial says:
No one expected Iraq to resemble, say, the Swedish countryside just a month after the fighting ended.
The edit then goes ahead and complain that a month later, Iraq fails to resemble a Swedish countryside. Funny, I don't seem to recall anyone in the Bush administration promising anything except more blood, sweat and tears for years to come. President Bush has said it will take years to bring democracy to Iraq.
The most outrageous thing about the editorial is the way it ends -- with a demand that the United States must allow the United Nations a role in cleaning up Iraq. Considering how the U.N. did nothing to end the nightmare that was life under Saddam, and in fact took steps to prevent the United States from ending it, the Journal Star's blanket insistence on a U.N. role is foolish.
The Journal Star will be happy to know that the folks over at AlterNet --- a.k.a. the "Hippie News Network" think it's time to send in the blue helmets.
UPDATE: U.S. forces arrest 129, to the utter amazement of the brainiacs who run the Peoria Journal Star editorial page, they did this without any assistance from the U.N. And now U.S. forces have the power to shoot looters. I doubt this is what the U.N.-huggers at the PJS had in mind, but it will help restore order.
McCook High School senior Mandy King parks herself atop fellow senior Tyler Bieck's car, which seemed to materialize overnight in the hallway outside the office at MHS.The front window displays the sun shield message, "Need Help Please Call Police," and the back window sports a handwritten message, "Ha! We got you Bieck!" Principal Jerry Smith, who is in his fifth year in the McCook school system, said this morning, "It's a fairly harmless senior prank — the first since I've been here. At least they didn't toilet-paper the building." Nothing was damaged in the commission of the prank, he said, and the car is easily removed. Smith said, "Somehow they got the doors open. They're extremely ingenious."
This isn't the first time I have heard of a car finding its way into a locked school building. I once heard of a prank at Lewistown High School in Illinois in which students disassembled a car and put it back together inside the school. This story gave no indication if that is what happened to Mr. Bieck's auto. I am glad to read that the principal found humor in the situation, especially in this age of zero tolerance. As long as no one used a dull butterknife or an inch-long toy gun while pulling off this caper, they should be safe.
I wish students had to take courses on understanding the use of statistics in popular media and how important it is to know the research method used, rather than just a grindingly hard and usually boring class in how to do multiple regressions. I personally get severe hives even thinking about doing statistical manipulations, although I've taken four graduate courses in it (I have Teflon brain for stats), but a lot of what we need to question isn't so much the math as the method - and research methods aren't as whimper-making as stats. It would be rather like learning how to use Word without having to know how to code it. It could be interesting, fun and very relevant to understanding the world around us. I'll be holding my breath until something that reasonable happens, though.
Sounds simple, but try explaining that to editors and consultants who have USA Today on their brains. The industry seems addicted to graphics and news bites, and those cute little pie graphs make the edge go away. As I once explained to a reporter, if it an unscientific poll and its results cannot be considered accurate, of what value is it to my newspaper?
What reporters and editors also need to know is that anybody can release a "study" or "research" that says anything. An example is a recent study by that "links" (now, there is a meaningless, but loaded word journalists should avoid) autism to childhood immunizations contain a preservative containing Mercury. Nevermind that earlier research by actual scientists found no cause/effect relationship between the two.
Feel free to comment on other scares newspapers and television helped to spread, despite the lack of real, scientific evidence.
Former British P.M. Margaret Thatcher spoke recently at a think tank in New York City.
"For years, many governments played down the threats of Islamic revolution, turned a blind eye to international terrorism and accepted the development of weaponry of mass destruction. Indeed, some politicians were happy to go further, collaborating with the self-proclaimed enemies of the West for their own short-term gain — but enough about the French. So deep had the rot set in that the UN security council itself was paralysed."
She spoke of her pride at the way Britain stood by America over Iraq: "Our own Prime Minister was staunch and our forces were superb. But, above, all, it is President Bush who deserves the credit for victory."
I am glad to see that the Conservative Party member praised her successor from the Labour Party.
She also had these words of wisdom:
Lady Thatcher warned that America and Britain faced "a pervasive culture of anti-Westernism" that needed to be challenged. "There are too many people who imagine that there is something sophisticated about always believing the best of those who hate your country, and the worst of those who defend it."
This is the message I posted on Blogger Control, the only method Blogger has of letting its users report problems. I have no confidence that anyone at Blogger is even paying attention. The Blog in question is Page 3 Girls.
I cannot publish. All it does is blink "publishing" for several minutes, then it comes up "Transfer error [details]" and when I click on "details, nothing happens. Nothing I posted on Wednesday will show up in my blog. Will you please, please, please fix this problem. The very least you can do is acknowledge that you have received this message. You failed to do even that the last two times I had a problem with Dano.
In yet another example of kind, caring government protecting us to death, a man was murdered in a notorious New Orleans crack house. So why not demolish the vacant, uninhabitable building?
The building is more than 50 years old, which qualifies it as a historic site, and is located in the historic district of Treme. The New Orleans Historic District Landmark Commission frowns on demolition of such buildings, usually recommending redevelopement instead, according to sources in that office.
But the building's owner said in this case, it's not possible to work around the drug activity and keep the addicts out. He said he has owned the property for five years, and for five years he says he has called police constantly to report drug trafficking and other violent crimes. The owner said he can't sell the building because it was recently burned, and he can't tear it down because of its status as a historic site.
This infuriating turn of events should surprise no one. It is a predictable consequence of turning over to the government broad powers to determine restrict the right of property owners to control their own property. The government is not interesting in the wise use of property. The government is interesting in getting re-elected. In this case, politicians' interest in appeasing the historic preservation crowd outweighs the need to protect the poor people in this neighborhood from an unsafe structure its own owner wants to demolish.
Here in Peoria, some well-to-do homeowners had their neighborhood declared a historic preservation district because they didn't want someone else to use their property to build an apartment complex.
Never underestimate how insecure Peorians are. What reason other than municipal insecurity explains why the Peoria Journal Star felt it necessary to use this headline above the syndicated "Single File" advice column on May 15: "Peorian: Abstinence spurs sexual anorexia." According to the 2003 census, Peoria is home to 112,936 people. It's not newsworthy - or even headline worthy -- that one of them actually wrote a letter to a syndicated columnist who is carried in the daily newspaper. This kind of headline makes Peoria look like the hick town the general public assumes we are.
Was I the only one who found the headlines that accompanied the Journal Star's May 15 article on the public's ideas for the Sears block to be condescending and insulting? "Ice rink, IMAX or pig racing? Public's ideas for Sears block range from visionary to wacky." "Wacky." Wow. The Journal Star asked readers to submit suggestions, and then essentially replied: "Thanks for the stupid ideas." The article was written by Sonya Kloppfenstein and wasn't insulting at all. Here's my own wacky idea: Auction the Sears block to the highest bidder, on the provision that whoever buys it must pay full commercial rate property taxes, whether the buyer develops the property of not.
With the help of public financing and the purchase of private homes through eminent domain laws, the City of Peoria helped developer David Joseph build the Campustown shopping center. Proponents said the project would create jobs and combat urban blight and crime in the neighborhood. Today, stores stand empty and crime remains a huge problem in the surrounding neighborhoods. With the help of public financing and the purchase of private homes through eminent domain laws, the City of Peoria helped developer David Joseph build Mid-Town Plaza. Proponents said the project would combat urban blight and crime in the neighborhood. Today, stores stand empty and crime remains a huge problem in the surrounding neighborhoods. With the possible help of public financing and the possible purchase of private homes and businesses through eminent domain laws, the Peoria City Council approved the "Med-Tech District," which will help future developers build businesses on 770 acres along West Main Street. Proponents said the project will create jobs and combat urban blight and crime in the neighborhood. No one knows which businesses and homes would be displaced - some certainly against their will - to be replaced by businesses picked by the powers-that-be. The Journal Star's editorial writers think this is a wonderful idea. Perhaps the brain trust that runs Peoria's newspaper of record might want to send a reporter or two to speak to the residents displaced by the Campus Town and Mid-Town Plaza projects, as well as the residents who live what is left of the neighborhoods, to find out if their lives have been improved. Perhaps they might send reporters to speak to the owners and former employees of the smaller grocery stores (Eagles, Haddad's, John Bee) forced out of business in part because they could not compete with the superstores created as a direct result of the city's financial support. Eminent domain was envisioned to allow the government to buy the land needed to build roads and bridges. Peoria uses it to help developers build shopping centers and ballparks.
I enjoyed the trip down memory lane WEEK took on Thursday, May 15, with its feature on "The Captain Jinks and Salty Sam Show," which it broadcast in from 1956 to 1972 (a taped version ran from 1978 to 1981). It all came back to me - the Hanna Barbera cartoons, the joke barrel, the Red Goose Shoes commercials and the silly interplay between Jinks and Salty. I remember being surprised one night when I realized that the guy who was giving the nightly weather report on Channel 25 sounded just like Captain Jinks, and looked like him too, only he didn't have a beard and moustache. It was like discovering Santa Claus is a myth. Some time after the show's cancellation, my family and I walked into the old Heritage House restaurant on North University to be greeted by its new host, George Basillion, who played Salty Sam. By that time, I was old enough to realize that Salty Sam was not a real person, and I was thrilled to meet him. As entertaining as WEEK's trip down memory lane was, there a down-side to this report. It demonstrated that Peoria television stations have completely abandoned the concept of locally produced entertainment. The most creative things WEEK and other local stations do these days is decide which syndicated talk show, game show or judge show it will broadcast in the two hours between the last soap opera and the 5 p.m. local news Basillion died in 1985. Stan Lonergan, Captain Jinks, died in 1989. As entertaining as WEEK's trip down memory lane was, there is an embarrassing down-side to this report. It demonstrated that WEEK and other Peoria television stations have completely abandoned the concept of locally produced entertainment. The most creative thing WEEK and other local stations do these days is decide which syndicated talk show, game show or judge show it will broadcast in the two hours between the last soap opera and the 5 p.m. local news. Thirty years from now, will today's grade schoolers be nostalgic for the good old days of Dr. Phil and Oprah?
In its 10 p.m. news on Sunday, May 11, CBS-31 found time to carry a fairly long report that swimsuit model Jenna was the winner of "Survivor: Amazon." The news came as no surprise because final episode had ended just minutes earlier. This was the day after dozens of homes in Central Illinois were destroyed or damaged by tornadoes. In all fairness, the first half of the program was dedicated to coverage of the tornadoes' aftermath. But this just means there must have been other local or even national news that needed to be covered instead of this piece of self-serving fluff. CBS-TV isn't the only media organization in Peoria that uses its news coverage to promote its financial interests. A few days earlier, the folks over at WEEK provided comprehensive coverage of its switch to high-definition (HDTV) signal, an upgrade that will have absolutely no effect on anyone who doesn't own the insanely expensive equipment needed to actually benefit from the HDTV signal. Nope, there's nothing self-serving about news coverage in Peoria.
The Peoria Journal Star never supported the war in Iraq. In its editorials, the newspaper pleaded for more time to let inspections work. Not one columnist working for the PJS supported the war. Now that the fighting is over - without the loss of civilian and military lives that so worried the editorial writers - the Journal Star printed an editorial on May 5 saying that the Bush administration would have a lot of explaining to do if no weapons of mass destruction are found. Never mind the fact that taking down the murderous Saddam Hussein regime has saved more lives than it lost. Never mind that nations like Syria and Iran have been given a lesson in the dangers of supporting terrorism. Never mind that the Bush administration has never claimed that Iraq's development of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons was the only reason for seeking regime change. On May 7, the Washington Postreported that a mobile laboratory that could be used to create biological weapons had been found in Iraq. The official told the Post that the truck and the equipment inside it had been cleaned with bleach and, therefore, did not show any identifiable residue of biological agents. But intelligence analysts have concluded that "there doesn't seem to be any legitimate use for it, other than as a biolab," the Post reported. If these mobile laboratories do turn out to be the smoking gun, will the Journal Star's editorial board write an editorial admitting they were wrong for arguing for more inspections? Don't hold your breath. Instead, they will move on to carping about how the Bush administration has failed to immediately install a western-style democracy. It's been a month already, after all.
Allen Prather writes about being interviewed by a reporter who already has written the story:
I was interviewed over the phone when I first opened an investment office back in 2000. Everything I told this reporter about the company I worked for and myself somehow did not make it into the newspaper piece. This reporter told me he had a friend in Dallas who went into the investment business years ago which, in the reporters eyes, made the reporter an authority on how the business is conducted. Needless to say, what appeared in the article was the reporter's own beliefs of the business and not what I told him.
I would like to think that I never did this when I was a reporter, but I am sure I did once or twice. I actually had an editor insist that I never start a story without knowing in advance what it would say. As one would expect, this reduced the number of story ideas I could present.
Even worse were those situations in which an editor assigned a story with a preconceived notion of what it should say. I would like tho think that even if I were to approach a story convinced it should say one think that my mind was open enough to be convinced I was wrong. That's not an option when your immediate superior evaluates your work according to whether it fits his or her preconceived notions.
The best quality of a journalist should have is a sense of curiosity. The worst thing that can happen to a reporter is to begin to think there is nothing he or she needs to learn.
As I sit here at my PC, I have the NBC soap opera "Passions" running in the background. Whitney and Chad, who recently did the wild thing, have discovered they could be brother and sister. It's been a long time since I've seen a soap with a horrible incest tragedy as a plot line. Frankly, I don't know how some soaps avoid them, considering half the cast is related in some way to the other half of the cast, and everyone changes bed partners every six months.
Welcome to The Lone Dissenter. I am a sixteen year old high school student in northern California. The climate is balmy, the study pace is frantic, and the politics are liberal. Excessively so, in fact. I hear so many remarkably stupid comments in one day that I thought, hey, why not keep these recorded somewhere? The result is this.
Posts will be sporadic, depending solely on when the idiotarians decide to make themselves known. The names are changed, but the events are true to the word. Perhaps not to the word, exactly, but as far as memory will serve. The cast will be predictably vague. You may see some people come back again and again, you may see some only once. It all depends on what they do.
What more can I say? Sit back. Relax. Remember what it was like to be in high school. You're sixteen. The government is the man, communism is a pretty good idea, and the only thing you aren't entitled to is foreign countries.
I cannot think of a more worthy purpose for blogging than the exposure of statist propaganda and masquerading as education, especially when it is a living breathing high school kid doing the exposing. One would think student-run newspaper would be the perfect place to discuss the shortcomings of the educational system. But, thanks to the Hazelwood decision, student newspapers do not enjoy the same 1st Amendment protestions as college and privately-owned newspapers. The Lone Dissenter skirts censorship via high school principal by taking his hismessage directly to the people.
I was able to get Blogger.com to delete the old Peoria Pundit site hosted on Blog*Spot and add a new one. I promptly inserted a redirect meta tag into the template and now you are here. Please adjust your bookmarks and blogrolls accordingly. Now, if I can just get w.blogger to link up with Blogger.com, things will go much easier (if anyone has any advice, please leave a comment).
I'll start posting articles of real substance here soon, but I have a paying assignment to complete, then editing the next Henlein Society Newsletter.
I'm shocked that we haven't been doing this already. The arrest and later release of journalist and blogger Sina Motallebi has demonstrated that the Iranian street pays attention to the Internet, specifically blogs, as a way to get information and opinion that their nation's ruling clerics can only attempt to control. The U.S. State Department has started its own Persian language website to reach young Iranians directly. This message from Collin Powell is available in Persian:
To the People of Iran:
I welcome you to the new Persian-language website of the United States Department of State. We are pleased to add Persian to the other websites we maintain in Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and French. We hope you will find this site to be a useful source of information about the United States and about U.S. policy toward Iran.
Our differences are not with the Iranian people. Instead, it is the Iranian government's decisions to support terrorism, to pursue weapons of mass destruction, and to deny human rights to the people of Iran that are the obstacles to improved relations between our two countries.
At the core of U.S. policy is the conviction that people everywhere should enjoy freedom. The United States wants to see a democratic and prosperous Iran, integrated into the global economy. I look forward to the day that Iran takes its rightful place in the family of nations. Our two cultures have so much to offer each other.
Images of Iranians participating in spontaneous candlelight vigils in memory of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. touched us deeply. As President Bush has made clear, "There is a long history of friendship between the American people and the people of Iran. As Iran's people move toward a future defined by greater freedom, greater tolerance, they will have no better friend than the United States of America."
I hope you will look upon this website as a gesture of that friendship.
Again, why have we NOT been trying to communicate with young Iranians in this manner before this?
The U.S. Treasury Department unveiled the new look of the $20 bill today. It contains several new changes that will supposedly deter counterfeiting. Maybe for a few hours. And nothing is stopping people from dpulicating the old bills, which are still legal tender.
On April 20, the eve of his 30th birthday, Iranian journalist Sina Motallebi made history: He became the first blogger to be arrested. In Iran, where newspapers are routinely shut down for mysterious reasons and where journalists are imprisoned without explanation, blogs, or weblogs, have emerged as a last bastion of personal freedom -- and the latest perceived menace for the Iranian government to grapple with.
SO MOTALLEBI HAS become a symbol -- to the Iranian government as well as to his supporters -- of the Internet-savvy Iranian youth growing in numbers, of their need for a space for self-expression, and of a repressive government crackdown on any structure that creates such a space. Fellow members of the blogosphere are concerned that Motallebi is only the first scapegoat in what might become a new government preoccupation. "This is not about Sina," says Pedram Moallemian, an Iranian blogger living in California. "The government has noticed this new area where free speech can flourish, and they want us to know that they’re watching us. Sina’s arrest is supposed to send a message." Moallemian has responded with a message of his own: a 2,000-signature petition he wrote and circulated both within the Persian blogosphere and beyond. Top American bloggers like Buzz Machine's Jeff Jarvis and the San Jose Mercury News' Dan Gillmor, as well as Reporters Without Borders, have expressed support for Motallebi.
I suppose there is little sympathy these days for people who are trying to immigrate to the United States. But anyone who cannot feel a smidgen of anger over what is happening to this young man doesn't deserve to live here, either.
A senior at Como Park High School in St. Paul (MN) is being deported three weeks before he would have become the first member of his family to wear a cap and gown. But time has run out for Tchisou Tho (right) and his family, who have been living here illegally. After fleeing Communist rule in Laos in 1975, the family settled in France. They came to the United States 13 years ago on visitors' visas, settling with relatives in Sacramento, Calif. They moved to Minnesota in 1993 to find work and good schools.
Unless you are a full-blooded Indian, you owe your existence being allowed to enter the Unites States over the objection of residents who would rather you stayed in Europe. None of us are old enough to remember signs that read "Irish need not apply."
Sure, we need to enforce our nation's immigration laws. Sept. 11, 2001, taught us that. But there must be something that can be done to let this poor kid stay for the few days it will take to graduate from high school.
At one point in this story, an imigration official says "the rule of law must be applied." Well, the worst sort of dictatorship I can imagine is the sort that insists all laws be enforced with the same, unquestioning zeal. It is an philosophy based on the belief that anything the law does not allow, must be forbidden.
Consider the following:
Tchisou has been accepted by the University of Minnesota, where he wanted to study natural resources or aerospace engineering.
That's right folks, we are protecting ourselves from having to share our great nation with a rocket scientist. Yeah, this kid sounds like a real undesirable to me.
I don't blame him. Blogger has completely destroyed my original blog and I thank my lucky stars I have been posting to a mirror for several weeks. I also cannot post via Bloggar, either. I cannot wait until I finally switch to a different host.
According to Hossein Derakhshan, Iranian journalist Sina Motallebi has been released on bail after 29 days in jail. The bail was 300,000,000 Rials, about about $3800. He still faces prosecution and a trial, so he is not out of danger yet.
: We'll never know exactly what led to Motallebi's freedom but I'm sure we should give credit to: : Hossein Derakhshan at Hoder.com/weblog, who reported the news of Sina's arrest. : Pedram Maolemmian at Eyranian.net, who started a petition to free Sina and drew attention to the cause with it. : Many other courageous webloggers in Iran whom I can't read because they write in Persian but who risk their own freedom to speak freely online. : The power of weblogs to spread news instantly. Because the two men above wrote their weblogs in English, other webloggers picked up the news and the cause and major media outlets (not enough) picked up the story. I'll be the mullahs are surprised not only at the power of weblogs within Iran but also at their power to connect to the world outside their repressive cloud. I'll bet they're even more sobered at this phenomenon today than they were the day before they arrested Motallebi.
What Mr. Jarvis does not say it that his blog played a big role in spreading the word. Thank you, sir.
From the hand-that-once-fed-me department: I hate to do this, but the folks over at the Peoria Times-Observer (my former employer) made a real groaner of an error in its April 23 issue when it described Peoria science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer as the 2001 winner of the "Rand Master Award."
The correct name of the award of the "Grand Master of Science Fiction" and it is part of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Nebula Awards. It's a strange error to make, because the reporter, the reliable Tom Batters, was editor of the Times-Observer when paper carried a large article about the award when it happened. I also referred to the award when I wrote an article about the 50th anniversary of the publication of Farmer's ground-breaking short story, "The Lovers."
In fact, Batter's article was accompanied by a photograph I took at the ceremony, which was held in a much-too tiny room at Lakeview Branch Library. They didn't think credit the photo to me, though.
Batters was right about one thing. The award is "science fiction's ultimate prize." Its first recipient was the late Robert A. Heinlein, the most influential science fiction author of the 20th century. The award is the science fiction equivalent to an Oscar Award for lifetime achievement.
Yet the local media doesn't quite get it. When I was a student intern at the Peoria Journal Star in the summer of 1986, I tried to pitch a comprehensive article on Farmer. Former city editor Ed Lembeck shot me down, because they had already done their obligatory Phil Farmer article that year. I even interviewed Farmer on spec, hoping it would be such a fascinating piece that Lembeck would have no choice but to print it. No dice.
I don't want to bad-mouth Blogger too much, because it is a free service and you get what you pay for. But, they have messed up one of my blogs beyond belief. Thanks to the switch to Bloggers new system, I no longer can access my original Peoria Pundit site, which I had hosted on Blog*Spot. The good news is that I have a mirror site, which I host here, on Tripod (I know, I know, it has popup ads. Sorry). For those who linked to Peoria Pundit, please adjust your blogrolls, etc. Sorry for the inconvenience.