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Archive for December, 2009

New Years Open Thread

December 31st, 2009 57 comments

Happy New Year.  As promised, we plan on keeping an open thread within reach at all times.  Sometimes the contributors want to talk about things we don’t post.  Here’s your chance.

Wishing everyone a safe New Years’ Eve and a prosperous New Year!  See you in 2010.  Can you all believe we are entering the 2nd decade of the 21st century?  Hard to believe.

Categories: General Tags:

Prince William County Signs Onto Comprehensive Immigration Reform Position Statement

December 31st, 2009 14 comments

Virginia Association of Counties’ (VACo), Position Statement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

VACo maintains a strong commitment to ensuring the security and safety of our communities. Legislative reforms must recognize the contributions of immigrants to a complex economy as well as the costs associated with welcoming immigrants into our communities. The U.S. Congress must enact comprehensive immigration reform that provides a funding stream sufficient to address the fiscal impact on state and local governments for any guest worker program and earned legalization program. The states and local governments require a national immigration system that is fully funded at the federal level, recognizes the realities of the marketplace, eases the fiscal stress on states and localities, and properly secures our borders. It is important that the federal government establish a clear and understandable path to citizenship for those who are eligible.

Introduced in November 2009 by County Board Member J. Walter Tejada, Arlington, VA

VACo approved and adopted in November 2009 as VACo’s Position Statement on Immigration Reform

My first question is this….Does Corey know? This “Position Statement” seems purposefuly vague, vague enough that I don’t think any elected official would be willing to stand up in opposition.

Who could be against “securing the safety of our comminities” ?

So, what I am wondering, is how does this “statement” turn in to actual meaningful legislation?

Also, I am wondering, who actually affirmed our vote from Prince William County, do they have the authority to sign onto such a statement?

Prince William County Police Department Excels Again

December 31st, 2009 5 comments

Prince William County  was recognized as one of only five counties in the United States  to have their police department awarded special accreditation status.  This recognition  certainly flew under the radar.  According  to the President of the Virginia Association of Counties in the December issue of County Connections, the publication of the newsletter of the Virginia Association of Counties:

 “The Tri-Arc Award is given to the governing bodies and agencies that have concurrent CALEA accreditation for their law enforcement, public safety communications and public safety training agencies,” according to background documents for the Board of Supervisors.

 Just a couple of weeks ago, the department received its third CALEA accreditation honor, for the county criminal justice academy—and that opened the doors for nomination to the CALEA Tri-Arc Excellence Award.  The award is administered by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. In 1987, Prince William police received CALEA accreditation for law enforcement and in 2003, for public safety communications.

 CALEA is quoted in the president’s article:

  “This is truly a significant achievement,” said Sylvester Daughtry, executive director of CALEA, in a briefpresentation to supervisors. No other jurisdiction in the Washington metropolitan area has received the award; neither has any county in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

 Chief Deane and Chairman Cory Stewart are both quoted:

 “I’d like to commend our staff for the outstanding work they’ve done,” said Prince William police Chief Charlie Deane, naming several colleagues—1st Sgt. Dawn Harman; Jan Judy and Capt. Fred Miller with the academy and Hazel Colson and Capt. Ted McInteer with communications—for their leadership in achieving the honor.

The award means the county police have maintained national standards in the three areas of accreditation.  On behalf of the board, Chairman  Corey Stewart, R-At Large, said the honor was warranted but not unexpected.  “The board is not surprised we have a professional, excellent police force,” he said.

 

What a fabulous honor for our police department to receive. It is truly amazing how the public support has shifted in the past year and half. It gives us many a tingle to hear the chairman speak so kindly about the department. It is only under the leadership of Chief Charlie Deane that so much has been achieved.

Categories: General Tags:

Blue Moon Eclipse 12/31/09

December 30th, 2009 6 comments

The year is going to go out with a big bang and a blue moon. What exactly is a blue moon? The second full moon in a calendar month is called a blue moon. Not only will there be a blue moon on New Year’s Eve but there will also be a partial eclipse of this blue moon. Unfortunately, the eclipse will only be visible from Europe, Asia and Africa. The Americas and Australia are out of luck.

A little background on the science and the mythology of blue moons from NASA:

Most months have only one full Moon. The 29.5-day cadence of the lunar cycle matches up almost perfectly with the 28- to 31-day length of calendar months. Indeed, the word “month” comes from “Moon.” Occasionally, however, the one-to-one correspondence breaks down when two full Moons squeeze into a single month. Dec. 2009 is such a month. The first full Moon appeared on Dec. 2nd; the second, a “Blue Moon,” will come on Dec. 31st.

If you told a person in Shakespeare’s day that something happens “once in a Blue Moon” they would attach no astronomical meaning to the statement. Blue moon simply meant rare or absurd, like making a date for the Twelfth of Never. “But meaning is a slippery substance,” says Hiscock. “The phrase ‘Blue Moon’ has been around for more than 400 years, and during that time its meaning has shifted.”

The modern definition sprang up in the 1940s. In those days, the Farmer’s Almanac of Maine offered a definition of Blue Moon so convoluted that even professional astronomers struggled to understand it. It involved factors such as the ecclesiastical dates of Easter and Lent, and the timing of seasons according to the dynamical mean sun. Aiming to explain blue moons to the layman, Sky & Telescope published an article in 1946 entitled “Once in a Blue Moon.” The author James Hugh Pruett cited the 1937 Maine almanac and opined that the “second [full moon] in a month, so I interpret it, is called Blue Moon.”

That was not correct, but at least it could be understood. And thus the modern Blue Moon was born.

Blue moon has other connotations, too. In music, it’s often a symbol of melancholy. According to one Elvis tune, it means “without a love of my own.” On the bright side, he croons in another song, a simple kiss can turn a Blue Moon pure gold.

The modern astronomical Blue Moon occurs in some month every 2.5 years, on average. A Blue Moon falling precisely on Dec. 31st, however, is much more unusual. The last time it happened was in 1990, and the next time won’t be until 2028.

Then there is the song from the early 60’s, entitled, Blue Moon:

Many artists performed this song but most people know the Marcels version best.

If you need a party theme for tomorrow night, go to www.spaceweather.com for all the Blue Moon details.

Human and Systemic Failures

December 30th, 2009 43 comments

Today President Obama spoke more forcefully as more information has unfolded.  There were bits and pieces of information that should have been pieced together, which suggests that US intelligence dropped the proverbial ball. When 300 plus lives are at stake, our intelligence sources simply cannot afford to overlook connecting the dots:

According to the NY Times:

 

 

Mr. Obama addressed reporters in his second public statement on the matter in two days, announcing that a review already had revealed a breakdown in the intelligence system that did not properly identify the suspect as a dangerous extremist who should have been prevented from flying to the United States.

“A systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that totally unacceptable,” Mr. Obama said. He said he had ordered government agencies to give him a preliminary report on Thursday about what happened and added that he would “insist on accountability at every level,” although he did not elaborate.

Mr. Obama alluded to the intelligence in his statement. “Had this critical information been shared, it could have been compiled with other intelligence and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged,” the president said. “The warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America.”

Was President Obama tough enough today?  Should he say ‘alleged?’  Should he be firing people?  This is our second thread on the Christmas Underpants terrorist.  I feel there needs to be more discussion.  As long as Americans and other innocent people are cannon fodder for these deranged religious zealots. we need to talk and demand safety.

Categories: Current Events, General, Terrorism Tags:

Skipper of Exodus, The Ship Carrying Holocaust Survivors to Palestine, Dies

December 29th, 2009 41 comments

exodus

Captain of famed Exodus refugee ship dies at 86
By ARON HELLER (AP) – 5 days ago

JERUSALEM — Yitzhak “Ike” Ahronovitch, the captain of the Exodus ship whose attempt to take Holocaust survivors to Palestine built support for Israel’s founding, has died. He was 86.

He died Wednesday in northern Israel after a long illness, his daughter Ella said.

The Exodus 1947 ship left France in July 1947 carrying more than 4,500 people — most of them Holocaust survivors and other displaced Jews — in a secret effort to reach Palestine. At the time, Britain controlled Palestine and was limiting the immigration of Jews.

The British navy seized the vessel off Palestine’s shores, and after a battle on board that left three people dead, turned the ship and its passengers back to Europe, where the refugees were forced to disembark in Germany.

The ship’s ordeal was widely reported worldwide, garnering sympathy for the refugees, especially because they were taken to Germany, where the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews during World War II originated.

THIS is a story of strict immigration restrictions and its aftermath.  The Johnson-Reed Act in 1924, spearheaded by the KKK,  was intended to greatly reduce the number of immigrants from certain areas in Europe, mainly the undesirable eastern Europeans, and of course, the Jews.

When Hitler threatened to kill the Jews of Germany and Eastern Europe, fifteen years after the passage of Johnson-Reed, American Jews pleaded with Roosevelt to amend the immigration quotas.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, Americans were struggling to survive the greatest economic depression the country had ever seen. Many Americans feared that needy immigrants would take precious jobs or place an added strain on an already burdened economy.

Hmmm, sounds familiar doesn’t it?

America’s immigration laws have always placed quotas on the number of people allowed to enter the United States from other countries. For example, in 1939 the quota allowed for 27,370 German citizens to immigrate to the United States. In 1938, more than 300,000 Germans —mostly Jewish refugees —had applied for U.S. visas (entry permits). A little over 20,000 applications were approved. Beyond the strict national quotas, the United States openly denied visas to any immigrant “likely to become a public charge.” This ruling proved to be a serious problem for many Jewish refugees who had lost everything when the Nazis took power and might be in need of government assistance after they immigrated to the United States.

In May 1939, only a few months before war began in Europe, a passenger ship called the St. Louis left Germany carrying nearly a thousand refugees, most of whom were Jews. Many of these people had already qualified for, but had not yet received, American visas. They arranged for temporary Cuban tourist visas that would enable them to wait outside of Germany for U.S. visas. By the time the St. Louis reached Havana, however, the Cuban government had changed its visa regulations. It refused to allow most of the refugees to land.

Forced to leave Cuban waters, the St. Louis sailed up the Florida coast. The U.S. Coast Guard followed close behind to prevent any passengers from swimming ashore. The State Department refused to allow the refugees to land without special legislation by Congress or an executive order from the president. Efforts by American Jewish organizations to work out a compromise failed. The desperate passengers aboard the St. Louis sent President Roosevelt a telegram pleading their case; he never replied.

Finally, the St. Louis returned to Europe and several nations granted asylum to the refugees. But when Hitler’s troops marched through Europe, most of the St.Louis’ ill-fated passengers were eventually caught by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps.

I am not suggesting that the immigration issue facing this country today is akin to Nazi Germany, what I am suggesting, is that immigration law is MAN-made and so it will forever be a work in progress. Rule of law is relevant only as it applies to the man making the law in the present day. As we all know, many laws have changed, with much strife, throughout the history of this country.

Father Creedon says it best in this interview.

Categories: General Tags:

Wounded Knee Massacre Anniversary Remembered

December 28th, 2009 7 comments

December 29 marks the 119th anniversary of what has come to be known as the Wounded Knee Massacre.  It is often cited as   the last major Indian Battle involving United States troops.  The Wounded Knee Massacre, December 29, 1890, took place along the banks of the Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota on what is now known as the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation. 

Wounded Knee has become symbolic of US Army abuse towards native peoples.  In fact, Wounded Knee became an armed camp as late as 1973 as militant American Indians battled federal officials one more time.  Basically local Lakota called for an outside radical group to come straighten out things at Pine Ridge Reservation.  Several people on both sides were killed and/or wounded. (see video link below)

Several posts and comments have been about the Souix and about Pine Ridge specifically.  Many of the young people on that reservation have become involved with gangs.  When one stops and thinks about the tragedy these people have seen, it is almost understandable.  The Souix were programmed for a life of poverty by our government.  The Souix were not all one big tribe, but a nation  of various tribes.  The Souix reservation was carved up into 5 smaller reservations.  The Black Hills, sacred lands to the Lakota,  were taken from them.  Some of their lands were sold for a pittance.  Children were sent off to boarding school, had their long hair cut off, were given white names and were not allowed to speak their own native language.   Most of this history has happened since the Massacre at Wounded Knee. 

My grandmother was born October 30, 1890.  I knew her quite well. She was not an Indian but I often try to put things in time perspective.   Somehow the fact that this massacre happened after her birth makes it harder to accept, hard to deal with as it certainly is not part of ancient history.  In fact, 1890 is getting darn close to modern times.  The auto had been invented and the airplane was only a decade or so off.  How can things like this massacre happen in the United States of America?

The poverty on some of these reservations is simply unimaginable.  These people are the real Native Americans, not us.   Do we have an obligation to make certain that Native Americans and Native American culture survive?  Can they survive in the extreme poverty that many who have not assimilated still live?  What do we have to do? 

Are American Indians often their own worst enemies?  Are their spokespeople standing on principle rather than practicality?  In 1980 the Supreme Court awarded the Lakota $106 million dollars for the Black Hills treaty violation.  They refused to take the money.  They wanted the land.  At what point do they decide that they will never get the land back and to take the money? Are those who are standing on pride representing all the people? I can only imagine what $106 million dollars would do to help overcome some of the root problems on reservations.

There are several resources:

http://www.sonofthesouth.net/union-generals/sioux-indians/sioux-indians.htm

http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/acs/1890s/woundedknee/WKmscr.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wounded_Knee_Massacre

http://www.kiliradio.org/    The radio voice of the Lakota Nation.

We Shall Remain (full episodes on PBS.  Wounded Knee  1973 is Episode 5)

Pro-Active or Reactive?

December 28th, 2009 66 comments

 In light of the recent terrorist attempt on the North West Airlines  flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, are our US air security checks reactive or pro-active.  It seems that so many of the  procedures we have to go through react to that which has previously happened rather than  what might happen.  Does this make us safer?  Do people who want to hurt us keep trying the same failed attempts to do the same thing?

 

Should we start looking at Muslims closer?  Should we start profiling people rather than making everyone from infants to grandparents jump through the same hoops?   Has any terrorist caught not been a Muslim?  These are the questions that have been bandied about by the talking heads on TV this past weekend, since the detroit incident. 

Are we safer than we were before 9-11 and if yes, why?  It seems that billions of dollars have been spent on fancy equipment and when all is said and done, it is the passengers who are putting these terrorists down.  What can we do further to keep those who want to harm us and their materials off our planes and away from our people?

Categories: General Tags:

What Makes a ‘Hero?’

December 26th, 2009 28 comments

candycaneTime for a fireside chat about heroes in general and America security:

 

Yesterday the United States escaped yet another terrorist attack on a plane.  A Nigerian ignited an incendiary device in his lap while the NW/Delta flight descended into the Detroit, Michigan airport.  The flight originated in Amsterdam. 

The terrorist who is being described as having Al Queda  connections picked up his marching orders and incendiary device in Yemen.  The terrorist, however, was unsuccessful.  His actions were thwarted by some brave passenger on the flight.  Basically he was jumped by passengers and flight attendants who ran towards him with fire extinguishers, according to witnesses.

We don’t know any full details  yet and we do know that eye witness accounts are often inaccurate and lack accurate facts.  However, on this blog we have discussed the concept of the ‘hero.’  Most of us have stated that we feel the term is overused and overworked and used to describe people who really haven’t showed extraordinary behavior.  We just say ‘hero’ because its a nice word.

Are these passengers and flight attendants heroes for stopping a terror attack?  What makes a real hero?  We hope you will participate in our fireside chat.  Click the arrow to start the fireplace.

Using Jesus, Joseph and Mary to Encourage Census Participation

December 25th, 2009 19 comments

It is probably no secret that the National Association of Elected Latino Officials is distributing the following poster to churches nation-wide to encourage Hispanics to participate in the upcoming census. [ There is a Spanish language poster.  12/26/09]

Many people and groups feel this measure is entirely inappropriate and hypocritical. In the first place, there is a constant vigilance kept about keeping church and state separate. The head of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, called the poster  “blasphemous.

According to ABC News:

Latino advocacy groups have launched an aggressive campaign to boost participation in the census, allay fears over confidentiality of the information it gathers, and counteract isolated efforts to boycott the count as a way of forcing immigration reform.

Advocates say the census is the only means for Latinos – a diverse and fast-growing population – to achieve greater political representation and benefit from federal programs that directly affect immigrants and their families.

Federal money and apportionment of congressional seats all hang on an accurate census. Unfortunately, too many Latinos have been led to think that the census takers are violating their privacy or possibly reporting them for any breach in immigration status. Basically, they don’t want the government in their business.

Is the poster in bad taste or is it a good tool to educate those who want to dodge the census? Should the government take heroic measures to include Latinos in the census? Some people have voiced fairly strong opinions on both sides of this issue.

Fun Facts from the Census Bureau

Categories: Immigration Tags: ,