So, which stories / topics / issues grab you this weekend?
The second time proved to be the charm for the Appoquinimink school district. On the second try, about sixty-and-a-half percent of those voting approved the Appoquinimink tax referendum. Fewer people turned out this second time. The tax increase sought was about half the size of the increase sought in February. This seems to be a recurring pattern in Delaware. Administrators and the school board seek a certain increase. Almost inevitably, it's defeated on the first try. Administrators and school board reduce the proposed increase to about half; it passes on the second try. Seems almost like a managememt---labor negotiation.
This weekend sees the Royal visit to Delaware of Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, marking the 375th anniversary of the Swedish/Finnish landing along the Christina River that produced the Delaware Valley's first permanent European settlement, New Sweden. The Royal couple last came here a quarter of a century ago. The Royal visit only accentuates the relationship between the city of Wilmington and Kalmar, Sweden -- sister cities for the past half century.
New Jersey's Governor (and U.D. grad) Chris Christie is about 40 pounds lighter after his lap-band surgery. The governor first told The NEW YORK POST that he "agreed to the operation at the urging of family and friends after turning 50 last September... (and) was thinking of his four kids and how it was time to start improving his health when he decided to have the procedure." No doubt, but doubtless Christie also has an eye on 2016.
The surgery was conducted in secrecy. But even though Christie was under the knife, and even though the operation was conducted out-of-state, Christie did not turn over his gubernatorial power to Lieutenant-Governor Kim Guadagno. (Christie compared the anesthesia to a "nap".) Some of Christie's critics are crying foul, saying the New Jersey state constitution is very specific about the circumstances under which the governor should temporarily relinquish power to the Lieutenant-Governor. (Delaware's state constitution does NOT have an out-of-state clause the way New Jersey's does!)
A Page One story in Friday's NEW YORK TIMES notes even after that incredible explosion which leveled a wide swath of West, Texas, most Texans - including even the mayor of West - remain stubbornly resistant to heightened regulation of such industrial sites. "Monday morning quarterbacking", harrumphs Mayor Tommy Muska. Indeed, Texas famously trumpets its free-market absolutism as a significant factor to one of the most robust state economies in the country, consistently ranked the most "business friendly" state in the U.S. No state fire code, and counties are prohibited from having fire codes. The only state that doesn't require companies to pay into workers' comp converage. All this and more underscores the psychological and political abyss separating Texas - and the Sunbelt generally - from Northern, Midwestern, and Pacific coastal states. (Although that, of course, would be simplistic: Delaware would have a similar divide between New Castle County and Sussex County; northern Illinois from southern Illinois; and even within Southern states, college and high-tech towns and cities, from the rest of their respective states!)
Such is our political/ideological divide today. Irony: If you describe yourself as pro-life because of that other divisive issue, why can't one's pro-life philosophy extend to environmental and safety protections which might save people's lives?
The Cleveland kidnapping suspect COULD face the death penalty. Prosecutors will assess pursuing the death penalty for Ariel Castro, amid allegations that he FORCED his victims to have miscarriages while they were confined to his home.
It emerges that one of the victims had a hellish existence even before her abduction: A year before her 2002 disappearance, one of the victims was gang-raped while in junior high school and bore a child as a result, according to her great-aunt, quoted in The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS.
In Arizona, Jodi Arias, convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend, COULD get the death penalty. The defense, of course, will introduce mitigating factors. A woman has not been executed in Arizona since 1930. And that execution went badly. Eva Dugan, convicted of murdering a Tucson chicken farmer, was hanged and accidentally decapitated.
The Boston Regional Intelligence Center, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, issued a report five days before the Boston Marathon bombings warning the finish line represented an "area of increased vulnerability." While the report could not point to "credible, specific information indicating an imminent threat" to the marathon race, the intelligence report warned Boston police that homegrown extremists could use "small-scale bombings" to terrorize spectators and runners.
From California, word that Governor Jerry Brown (D) - who has always enjoyed a frugal personal reputation - is doing his job with barely half the personal office staff of his predecessor, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). According to the SACRAMENTO BEE, Schwarzenegger paid the 230 employees on his personal staff about $14.5 million during his final year as governor. 42 workers earned six figures. In contrast, Governor Brown paid the 120 employees on his personal staff about $8.2 million.
Can't say I'm surprised.
Also from California: That state's Assembly (the lower chamber) has passed a measure that would require schools to allow transgender students to compete on sports teams and use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity, not their sex. The legislation cleared the Assembly without a single Republican vote; the measure now goes to the California Senate for consideration in the upper chamber. Proponents argue the bill would help transgender students to be fully involved in athletics and other activities without feeling ostracism. The sponsor of the legislation, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) concedes some parents may be concerned about their kids sharing bathrooms with students of a different sex, but, "it's also important to protect our children from prejudice." School districts in L.A. and San Francisco have operated under such policies for about a decade. Critics suggest students wanting easy access to the opposite gender might use the law as a means to gain such access.
Critics of alternative fuels and alternative-fuel vehicles tend to dismiss the entire industry and movement with one wide brush, but Tesla Motors Inc., manufacturer of electric cars, posted its first profit in the first quarter of 2013, beating analysts' projections, as sales of its luxury Model S sedans surpassed sales for GM's Chevy Volt. It's Delaware's profound misfortune that the Markell Administration landed Fisker Automotive for the old GM plant instead of Tesla.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) - capitalizing on his national exposure from his March filibuster against President Obama's drone policy - is making his maiden 2016 trip to Iowa to introduce himself to Hawkeye State Republicans.
Look to pay more for your OJ and oranges generally: A bacterial disease with no known cure, Citrus Greening, has infected all 32 of Florida's citrus-growing counties. First detected in 2005, this year's losses are by far the most extensive, according to The NEW YORK TIMES.
From USA TODAY: WASHINGTON -- "The Supreme Court may be on the verge of declaring victory in the fight against racial discrimination. Two cases nearing decisions by the court within weeks threaten to uproot affirmative-action programs at the nation's public colleges and universities and weaken a federal statute that guards against discriminatory changes in state and local voting procedures..."
The grandson of the slain civil rights leader Malcolm X - Malcolm Shabazz, 29 - has died in Mexico City, according to The AMSTERDAM NEWS.
A report from the Church of Scotland entitled, "The Inheritance of Abraham", rejected an inherent Jewish special claim to the land of Israel. The paper rejected "claims that Scripture offers any peoples a privileged claim for possession of a particular territory." Futher, "reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jeruasalem and the blockade of Gaza are ended." The report called on the church "to urge the UK Government and the European Union to use pressure to stop further expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank".
As you could imagine, the pushback came quickly and ferociously. Scotland's Jewish community said the report "reads like Inquisition-era polemic". The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities declared the paper "is an outrage to everything that interfaith dialogue stands for". Further, "The arrogance of telling the Jewish people how to interpret Jewish texts and Jewish theology is breathtaking."
The British newspaper, The GUARDIAN, has since reported the Church of Scotland has agreed to change the wording of that paper. The Scottish church is reportedly changing the report's introduction to affirm that it has never doubted Israel's right to exist.
Another more curious story from Scotland... More people are choosing coffins made from wool and Edinburgh tops the United Kingdom for sales of the alternative casket. People are drawn to the perceived "warmth and softeness" of wool coffins. (Prince Charles even joked such coffines were "to die for.")
With the recent opening of George W. Bush presidential library, I still wonder about one important question: How did Bush and his henchmen avoid a war crimes trial?
If you look at history, tribunals have been held for leaders who committed horrible atrocities during war. Herman Goering, Alfred Jodl, and other members of the Third Reich were held accountable with the Nuremberg Trial after World War II. They were convicted and hanged.
For Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice, there were atrocities committed against innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. This includes the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib Prison. This includes the many civilians who were kidnapped from their homes, tortured and held without trial at Guantanamo Bay. Surely there needs to be accountability for the crimes committed there.
Why is Bush allowed to continue playing golf and painting, when he should be tried for war crimes, convicted and hanged?
Fri, May 10, 2013 10:11am
teatime: Talk abut double-standards. Winners make rules. Winners write history. And the U.S. has refused to sing the treaty establishing the World Court and accepting its jurisdiction.
And Bush is probably careful to avoid going to any country where he might be arrested.
Fri, May 10, 2013 10:12am
The idea that ex-President Bush or some of his top aides could be arrested and detained remains a technical possibility in certain countries.
As a practical matter, the Secret Service protects an ex-President and one couldn't imagine that any European country would actually do it.
Although the modern precedent for a former head-of-state arrested for human rights abuses/war crimes was set in 1998, with the arrest of Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet in London, and detention for a year-and-a-half.
And indeed, in 2011, Dubya cancelled a visit to Switzerland (where he was to address a Jewish charity gala) after human rights activists pressed Swiss authorities to take legal action against him during any visit.
A former Presidents' underlings may have to be much more careful.
In 2005, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was threatened with arrest in Germany because of Abu Ghraib. Rummy threatened to cancel an appearance in Deutschland until he got assurances from top German authorities.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger has long been under threat of arrest/detention somewhere because of U.S. actions - or support for murderous regimes - in places like Indochina, Chile, and East Timor (first Portuguese, then illegally annexed by Indonesia).
Fri, May 10, 2013 1:15pm
You're right, Bill Smith. Winners make the rules and the only reason W did not go on trial is because his side won the war.
Another way of looking at it is to consider what would've happened if Adolf Hitler and the Nazis WON World War II. A Nazi victory means that Hitler would have never gone on trial and would have instead been glorified as the founder of a 1,000 year Reich for Deutschland.
Fri, May 10, 2013 5:10pm
teatime: An even better example of winners making rules is World War I. There was no good versus evil dynamic here, but the Allies o saw fit to punish the Central Powers and their leaders, and that is what most historians considered the prime cause of World War II.
Or there's the U.S. Civil War. Which Northern historians have spun as a righteous crusade and Lincoln as its great martyr. They tell stories about Andersonville, but none about the atrocities of prisons like Camp Douglas.
Fri, May 10, 2013 6:54pm
In blaming Bush, you seem to forget we would need to blame others too. The joint resolution was passed overwhelmingly -in both houses. the Senate by 77-23 and the House by 297-133.
Now let us put that in perspective. The first Gulf War, the one to free Kuwait, barely passed 52-47. One could say any President would be empowered to feel the whole country was behind him with support from Congress by a whopping margin.
True, one could spin the strory that Bush mislead the Senate, but in his own defense, Bush could argue that he in turn was misled by Cheney.
As the movie called Charley's War impuned, this conflict when borne out by history, should be called Cheney's war....
From beginning to end, it was as if a shadow government ran the war from an undisclosed location...
Fri, May 10, 2013 9:42pm
kavips: Sorry, the buck does not stop with vice presidents. If Dubya had showed up for those national guard meetings, he might have learned about command responsibility.
Sat, May 11, 2013 12:16am
Both Bush and Obama have left the Middle East in a big mess. There is currently a mass exodus of Christians fleeing Egypt, Iraq, & Afghanistan thanks to these two presidents.
Kavips: Per your request, here's a link to one of my favorite concert videos. Please enjoy "Live in South Africa" by Israel and New Breed:
Sun, May 12, 2013 12:17pm
From today's Daily Mail...
"Former Nixon aide claims he has evidence Lyndon B. Johnson arranged John F. Kennedy's assassination in new book
* Roger Stone claims Johnson ‘micro-managed’ Kennedy’s Dallas motorcade, demanding it pass through Dealy Plaza on the afternoon he was shot
* He also says that Johnson instructed Richard Nixon to hire Jack Ruby several years before he shot Lee Harvey Oswald
* The revelations are made in is book 'The man who killed Kennedy - the case against LBJ' out later this year"
And you can check out the Daily Mail's report on the visit of the Swedish King and Queen...
I wonder if Jensen will "censor" and "black out" this one:
"Italian gynaecologist talks 17-year-old out of abortion so he can deliver baby and sell it for £21,000
* Andrea Cozzolino, 57, arrested for suspected corruption and abuse of office
* He reportedly delivered girl's baby near Naples and sold to childless couple
* Scheme fell apart when birth mother told authorities she had been 'raped'"
billsmith: I don't think you're gonna get a whole lot of takers on the Kennedy/LBJ thing. While anything is possible, there are several dozen conspiracy theories that have been floating out there for years.
As you probably know, November 22nd, 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination. The government is supposed to be declassifying and releasing some documents about the incident. My prediction is that there will be a big build-up of media anticipation, with the balloon almost immediately popped when the papers don't reveal anything we don't already know.
Mike from Delaware
Mon, May 13, 2013 8:26am
Mrpizza: I agree, there will be a big build-up and nothing worth the hype, thus the 21st century news cycle - hype, gossipy stories, weight loss stories, health-related stories, etc., etc, aimed at the female demo [especially local Philly TV news]. To say the news has become "chickafide" would be an understatement, as it seems that now more and more, if not a majority of news reporters are women. It makes sense on a couple of levels:  Women generally like grammar, writing, etc, than men as they generally do far better at those skills in school and now that they have the opportunity that didn't exist years ago they are quickly becoming the main force in the bank of reporters we hear and see each day on radio or TV news;  Advertisers prefer women as they make most of the purchases for a family, so wanting more females to watch or listen to the news is a given  To do that it helps to pull them in by having more female-oriented stories along with more female anchors/weatherpeople, and even now female sports reporters, helps to pull in that "magic demo".
I have no plans to watch or listen to most of it in November. I enjoyed listening to the audio book of Bill O'Reilly's book about the killing of JFK, but had to skip the part where he got into the actual end of JFK's life and the funeral. That brought back too many painful memories of a 12-year-old who saw the Prez a week earlier at the Delaware Turnpike dedication and losing him the following week. I was a kid, I didn't know anything about his "womanizing", but I was a Catholic and he was too, the first Catholic to be elected Prez and he was young and not stodgy and old like most politicians. He seemed to represent a new wave or something that seemed to excite folks.
How different and possibly better the 60's and 70's might have been had he not been assasinated? Would he have gotten us in as deep into Vietnam as LBJ did; would he have fought the war to win and not put restrictions on how we fought that war? Once he saw a no-win situation would he have ended the misery sooner, would he have kept the draft allowing those college deferments which essentially gave the wealthy a ticket out by simply going to college and majoring in basket-weaving, advanced limo-riding, and elistism 101 while the middle and poor who didn't go to college were drafted to go fight that stupid war?
Would have we had all the war protests and "hippies", etc, that grew out of the US sending our boys to die in Viet Nam?
We can't know the answers, but with JFK's death ended the promise of that decade. RFK and MLK's death later that decade truly cemented the death of a brighter future in the 70's as our nation stumbled along.
Each of us who lived through all that have our own memories and views of where things were going and how different things might have been.
Fact is it the speculations don't matter. JFK, RFK, and MLK were all gunned-down for being men who had a vision for a better US. It seems that there will always be those who have enough hate of an idea or vision to kill those who come with that sort of message. Nothing has changed since the 1st Century, when Jesus too was assasinated, via the cross, for having a vision over 2000 years ago of a better world for all. There were folks back then who too didn't want to hear this and took steps to end that sort of vision. There are people today who still are fighting the vision that Christ brought. Some things just don't change.
Mon, May 13, 2013 8:31am
Earl Grey, you are wrong to say that Obama and Bush are equally responsible "for the mess in the Middle East."
Obama withdrew our troops from Iraq just as he pledged to do, and he voted against the war when he was a U.S. Senator.
Obama also plans to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan sometime in 2014. More importantly, Obama hasn't STARTED any wars sincecoming into the White House. This is noteworthy that he isn't caving in to the idiots who are calling for wars with Iran and Syria.
So Obama's record is clean on this. It's only Bush and his henchmen who need to be hanged.
I also believe journalists should have licenses the same way nurses have a license to practice. If it's found that the journalists only reported one side of the war (CNN, Fox News, etc...) these journalists should have their licenses suspeded for a year.
Mon, May 13, 2013 8:47am
Backing up Tea Time. Earl Gray is absolutely on the wrong side of history when he tries to equate the policies of Obama with that of Bush.
Just as any corporate president has to deal with the failings of his fired predecessor, the Democrats have still to run the country. The Republican administration prior to Obama completely destroyed the existing balance-of-power in South Western Asia that had been meticulously constructed by the two previous administrations... one Democrat and one Republican.
If anyone ever writes a book on how to do something wrong, the footnote and references will all be the Republican era 2001-2008. At no time in our history has policy rendered such an disaster, one which went way beyond the scope sanctioned by the American Voters when they went to the polls. In essence, it was a coup by the Far Right: A splinter organization that infiltrated a party, installed a fake figurehead, one who appeared moderate but was weak and would not stand up to their actions, and would let them run the country in they way they wished...
Did I say "run"? My mistake, I should have used the correct term which was "plunder"... They did to the United States of America, what Bain Capital does to businesses it buys up, and sells for scrap.
Mon, May 13, 2013 8:49am
lol.. obviously above I saw one too many zero's and put one too few.. :(
Mon, May 13, 2013 9:04am
The Republicans of 200 A.D. would've just thrown spears and arrows into Persia, trying to incite a war for no reason.
Mon, May 13, 2013 12:02pm
kavips & teatime:
Both presidents made a mess in these countries, but in different ways...George W. Bush attempted to create another "friendly" democracy in the Middle-East by liberating Iraq from a dictator (through an all-out assault with our troops on the ground), Barack Hussein Obama attempted the same in Libya (with air support from our forces)... Both failed to create a friendly ally and both helped put radical Islamists into power that HATE Americans and HATE Christians. The article I linked to in my earlier post documents the masses (millions) of Christains fleeing for their lives from countries they have lived in since the time of Christ due to the violence.
What will this president do in Syria? It's a lose/lose scenario the way I see it...support Al-Qaida rebels or an evil dictator? It has been reported that one of the possibilities for the Benghazi cover-up is due to illegal gun-running by our government to Syria to support the rebels...problem is, that violates a treaty we have with Russia.
Tue, May 14, 2013 9:15am
Earl, I think the answer in Syria is thus. There is now no moral high ground. Both sides are contaminated.
I just read here that the Al Qaida movement is popular because they are the ones creating the most progress. Although they are a minority among the rebels, that minority is responsible for most of the rebels successes.
They have proven themselves bolder and braver than their not-quite-so-god-fearing counterparts.
That said, the United States by assisting the rebels would assist Al Qaida. So that flips us back to the assertion that we should make the rebels fail, to keep our enemy Al Qaida in check. But that means supporting Assad...
The best the US can do, is try to lead the area out of sectarian hatred, and into one where governments are responsible to all of its people. That way, even if we lose Syria to Al Qaida, the United States maintains the moral high ground, and remain the single beacon of hope from which all those wanting a better life can draw future courage.
The United States must be vocal in its support of whomever
Tue, May 14, 2013 9:18am
Using the open thread context, I just saw the leader of the Republican outreach to Hispanics in Florida just switched parties...
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