So which stories / issues / topics capture your attention this weekend?
Wilmington City Council members have approved a 415-thousand-dollar subscription to ShotSpotter, Incorporated, a new gunshot locator system that will lead to the installation of gunshot-detecting sound sensors. A number of other cities use such a system. But the ShotSpotter network doesn't include cameras, and several City Council members questioned the efficacy of such a network without visual recordings. ShotSpotter would only cover the city's central and downtown areas, not the neighborhoods. So one could argue it would not have an appreciable impact in curbing the city's epidemic of shootings.
State officials were crowing about bringing Delaware's school drop-out down to a 30-year low, from 3.8 to 1.6% But the reduction in drop-outs was by no means universal.
We can expect comparatively high temperatures this weekend, but that Polar Vortex (which we never heard about in popular media until THIS winter season!) is projected to dip southwards next week. The peak cold will likely arrive late next week. Between now and then, flash flooding looms in some places. What a fatiguing winter!
Arizona state lawmakers have approved controversial legislation which would allow individuals to cite religious beliefs as a defense against lawsuits. Proponents call it a "religious freedom" bill; opponents call it a "right to discriminate" measure, which could invite another economic boycott of Arizona, similar to what happened when the state enacted a controversial immigration law.
From The ARIZONA REPUBLIC:
"Specifically, the legislation proposes to:
-- Expand the state's definition of the exercise of religion to include both the practice and observance of religion...
-- Allow someone to assert a legal claim of free exercise of religion regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceedings...
-- Expand those protected under the state's free-exercise-of-religion law to "any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly, or institution or other business organization"...
-- Establish wording that says that in order to assert a free-exercise-of-religion defense, the individual, business, or church must establish that its action is motivated by a religious belief, that the belief is sincerely held, and that the belief is substantially burdened..."
Supporters of the legislation contend the bill would protect a wedding photographer who decided against snapping photos of a same-sex couple's commitment or marriage ceremony because of that photographer's profoundly held religious beliefs. Opponents insist the measure might insulate a corporation discriminating on the basis of religious belief. For example, no non-Christians need apply. Or LGBT folks could be denied access to nearly any business or service.
Lawmakers in other state capitals have considered similar proposals, but Arizona appears to be the first state to approve such a wide-sweeping, religious protection bill. What will Arizona Governor Jan Brewer do? You never quite know with her. She vetoed a similar measure last year, but that came during an unrelated political standoff.
The uptick in Ukrainian violence finds Delawareans of Ukrainian heritage despondent. The Ukrainian diaspora around the world dreads Ukraine again coming under Moscow's thumb. Yet many nationalistic Russians view it as unthinkable that Ukraine would become but an appendage of the West. It's worth noting (and I've not seen this in mainstream media accounts) that many of the Ukrainians who eventually settled in the United States and Canada were from western Ukraine, part of which came under the old Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire. So historically and culturally - whether Ukrainian Catholic or Ukrainian Orthodox - these Ukrainians were oriented towards the West, spiritually and culturally.
I happen to have followed this stuff rather closely, as half my ethnic heritage is western Ukrainian. My grandparents on my mother's side settled around Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada -- one of the epicenters of Ukrainian settlement in the Western Hemisphere. I had heard that my great-grandfather had served in the Austro-Hungarian army under Emperor Franz Josef.
But all this underscores how, in a way, you have two Ukraines: The more Western-oriented west (also more Catholic) and the Russian-oriented East. A break-up might be the logical solution (just as Russia has carved out enclaves in some former Soviet republics, such as Trans-Dniester from Moldova), but I can't imagine Putin would ever allow that to happen. Ukraine is too central to the Russian psyche, going back to Kievan Rus from the late 9th to the 13th centuries. So a Czechoslovak-style, peaceful break-up is not in the cards. (Czech - Bohemian - represents most of the other half of my ethnic roots. Ironically, my father was part of the Army band playing in Prague near the end of WWII.)
Given the Russian sensitivities, U.S. options are pretty much limited to joining the Europeans with sanctions. Unfortunately, sanctions usually hurt ordinary people before they hurt leaders. I would draw a geo-political parallel between Ukraine and Taiwan, officially the Republic of China. If the Beijing authorities applied extreme pressure - or worse - to get what they regard as a renegade province to rejoin China, rather like China's absorption of Hong Kong and Macau in 1997 and 1999 respectively (technically with some autonomy), realistically, what could the United States do?
Late word of a deal between the two sides, calling for early elections and curbs on presidential powers. Let's see if it holds. I have my doubts, given the passions on all sides. Plus, the opposition movement is splintered.
But, breaking news (5:45 p.m. Friday): A Ukrainian news source reports the Ukrainian President has fled Kiev for a city in eastern Ukraine.
Posted at 8:24am on February 21, 2014 by Allan Loudell
Mr. Loudell: I'm a bit surprised the FCC/newsroom story didn't interest you...
How can the news judgments made by editors and station managers impede small businesses from entering the broadcast industry? And why does the CIN study include newspapers when the FCC has no authority to regulate print media?
Fri, Feb 21, 2014 11:31am
In Allan's defense, he spent a lot of time typing out his piece, time he took from elsewhere, so the had to quit before he got that far. I have several ideas to add later myself...
That said: Probably the Republican version of Chip Flowers would be Mike Protack. When Mike is running for office, he is a pretty good candidate. However, early on, his views were too middle-class for the Greenville division of the Republican Party; they had to kill him and through subterfuge, innuendo, and using their ties with the News Journal, they basically assassinated his character. Probably even today, my singling him out here will draw jeers from some who know too little.
Mike's finest moment came when he primaried for Governor in 2008. Allan, you did several of the debates with the top three candidates I think Delaware has to offer: Markell, Carney, and Protack. The tapes are still out there, and anyone who sees them, has to wonder what was wrong with the Republican Party for choosing Lee (a weak Southerner but good man, who happens to like guzzling beer in little red cups if I remember correctly)... over someone masterful and competent like Protack... Who on earth, is that big arrogant fool who made that brainiac decision, to back an unknown Lee over someone who held his own against Markell like Protack?
Protack on the campaign trail in 2008 was the best Republican candidate this state has had in a statewide contest since Castle left for Washington...
A populist, centered, conservative..... reminding one very much of John Williams.
The reason I bring him up now is because he was the first to promote the shot-spotter technology that Wilmington just purchased. He introduced that concept in his 2008 election campaign... It is ironic that after he was killed off by the George Burns of Greenville, his idea lives on and may now actually do good by saving lives, while those who killed the Republican Party in Delaware sit by their fireplaces sipping sherry in Chrystal Stemmed cordial glasses ans wonder how to resurrect the Republican Party from the Land of the Dead.
Fri, Feb 21, 2014 12:05pm
As a personal favor, I would like to hear how the Tea Party would be critical of this opinion below; it's about Welfare. It challenges the edifice of the Tea Party and its mantra; I would be very seriously interested to hear how they feel, especially if there is a valid point on how to rebut it. Thanks in advance.
Fri, Feb 21, 2014 2:31pm
Here's a cool private sector solution to tyranny and government control of the Internet... the Outernet.
The group plans to offer free/unfiltered Internet to North Korea via several small satellites floating in space.
Kavips: Thanks for the video. That was very interesting and compelling. The artist did an amazing job; I found myself just fascinated with her drawing.
I message was very interesting and yes gives, at least me, something to consider. An interesting way of looking at the poverty problem.
I'll watch it again later when I have more time to be able to stop, think, watch more, stop, think, etc.
Thanks for the link.
I will share this with others, it's worth the time spent.
Fri, Feb 21, 2014 7:31pm
If Arizona passes this legislation fully intact, then I'll have to seriously consider it as a place to relocate.
Fri, Feb 21, 2014 9:18pm
kavips: That was a very well done/thought provoking video...and I was actually in complete agreement with the professor up to the point where she demonized Walmart as the "welfare queen", supported OWS and cited Saul Alinsky as a great example to solve the problem of welfare/entitlements.
I think Clinton had it right...government should pay welfare but those receiving it should be required to work for it. People have better self-esteem and more self-worth when they work.
I heard a recent interview with Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs guy) discussing Walmart, his recent voice-over for a commercial for their company and the flack he received for "supporting" the supposedly evil enterprise.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014 3:10am
If Walmart is so stinking evil, then why does everybody shop there?
Mike from Delaware
Sat, Feb 22, 2014 6:39am
EarlGrey & Mrpizza: I think you guys miss the point about Walmart. They are apparently the wealthiest corporation in the U.S. so they could easily pay their employees a living wage, but instead have decided that you & I as taxpayers should pay for those things from our taxes. Kind of like the person who won't buy health insurance & has no problem with you & I paying for their care when they go to the ER. Both are takers (to use a G.O.P. / TEA phrase); they are stealing from you & me. That's wrong.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014 8:36am
MFD: The Democrats and the establishment Republicans are the ones stealing from us - not Walmart or the TEA party. In fact, if government would stop borrowing trillions of dollars and wasting most of it on prodigal living, there would be no need to raise the minimum wage because there wouldn't be any inflation.
Once again, I remind you the words of the great President Ronald Reagan:
Government is not the solution to our problems.
Government IS the problem.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014 9:27am
Additionally, I see commercials on a regular basis featuring very satisfied Walmart employees. I doubt that these are actors as truth-in-advertising laws prohibit corporations from propagandizing, unlike government who conveniently exempt themselves from such laws and tell us lie after lie every day and all over the TV at taxpayer expense. A prime example of this is the Obamacare propaganda PSA's.
I would suggest that if you don't like how Walmart "treats" their employees, then don't shop there. Just remember that by no shopping there, you're hurting the legitimate employees who are satisfied with their jobs.
Could it be that the employees claiming "abuse" are a bunch of losers who do nothing but complain about everything? I think so. I see them at the post office all the time.
Perhaps an "attitude of gratitude" would get them a lot farther in life.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014 9:34am
I'm laughing here has as I write this for it will sound like I'm defending Walmart, but I don't think you can really blame them too much... The accusation is that they purposefully undermine the system by lowering the wage levels, and to some I'm sure it looks that way.
But basically Walmart is an idea. If we buy big for cheap, consolidate our delivery system in-house, and hire people as cheap as we can get, people will come to our stores....
As a consumer walking through Walmart and seeing the same brand of pillow I just bought elsewhere now a dollar cheaper, would make me mad and push me hard to shop there... Just saying. That is how this model looks from their consumer's point of view; it is a good model.
As for the wages, when Walmart comes into a community, there is no hidden agenda. They don't overstate what they pay. Everyone knows it will be minimum-wage jobs. But Walmart's business model is not to invest in areas of full employment. It goes to where jobs are scarce and people are glad to get those minimum-wage jobs because it is still a step up from having no job.
To those local mostly rural populations, Walmart is helping. Now the idea that one must fully care for one's employees is a relatively new business practice. Walmart, until it was criticized, used to coach employees how to better themselves while on the only jobs they could get, by using government assistance. I think it is more like Walmart saying this is our wage - take it or leave it - but if you choose to take it here are some other options to keep you coming in to work because you now can eat, have free medical, and have heat assistance in winter.... After all, the government option was there to be used...
I don't think at any point in creating its brand, that Walmart said, 'if we use government entitlements as incentives, we can hire for less...' I think if Walmart were on trial for using government subsidies, the lack of motive would be its easiest defense. Walmart could have run very well, without helping their employees get assistance. Hungry employees would still work for a paycheck....
This was really not an issue during the Bush administration when it was first disclosed... and I would venture that it was because of the Tea Party that this has recently become a hot button. With the Tea Party focused on cutting entitlements, it has forced a closer look at who they go to, and that close inspection is what got Walmart in trouble.
It forced the question over who should pay. The government or private business in the form of higher wages... We can't have them starve, so someone has to pay for them... The bottom answer is we, you and I, pay for them either through taxes or the cost of purchase... We just have to figure what account we are going to pay it out of...
No different really than trying to figure out where to pay the cable bill. Should it go into utilities, or should we pay it out of entertainment? It really doesn't matter; it will get paid...
With Walmart, the real issue is whether the profits of Walmart should be as high as they are, because they pay so cheap... Can the owners of Walmart live on less, and pay less in taxes as a result, pay their employees more, so our taxes, which we would have gotten from the Waltons, won't be used to pay for benefits that are now not needed.
Sound confusing... Good. you are getting the picture of how everything is interconnected together.... Hurt one, it comes around to hurt you back.. .
Sat, Feb 22, 2014 12:30pm
And now, time for an education break. Listen very closely to what the professor has to say:
Kavips: I'm well aware that Dick Morris was Bill Clinton's Lee Atwater, thank you.
Mike from Delaware
Mon, Feb 24, 2014 8:49am
Kavips: I've watched that video several times. Excellent production/concept/film making. Interesting message. I don't agree with a guaranteed citizens' wage just for breathing. The government should not be paying folks to just sit home and not contribute to society. So I disagree with the final moments of the film.
However, I do believe that the government should require businesses to pay a minimum wage that does get adjusted for inflation/cost of living.
A survey from the Public Religion Research Institute supports this.
"The minimum wage should have reached $21.72 an hour in 2012 if it kept up with increases in worker productivity, according to a March study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. While advancements in technology have increased the amount of goods and services that can be produced in a set amount of time, wages have remained relatively flat, the study points out.
Even if the minimum wage kept up with inflation, since it peaked in real value in the late 1960s, low-wage workers should be earning a minimum of $10.52 an hour, according to the study.
Between the end of World War II and the late 1960s, productivity and wages grew steadily. Since the minimum wage peaked in 1968, increases in productivity have outpaced the minimum-wage growth.
The current minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour. In 2011, more than 66 percent of Americans surveyed by the Public Religion Research Institute supported raising this figure to $10.
The last time the federal minimum wage increased was in 2009. Currently observed in 31 states, the federal minimum wage translates to an annual income of about $15,000 a year for someone working 40 hours per week."
EarlGrey and Mrpizza: I don't agree with that $21.72/hr number, because increases in productivity probably haven't occurred much in entry-level minimum-wage jobs and as all others' pay hasn't increased that much either, that would sink the economy, but cost of living/inflation affects all workers so the $10.52/hr minimum wage probably is where it ought to be.
Yep, some businesses won't like it, and might even lay off some workers, but eventually they'd have to hire folks at that new wage or go out-of-business. Yep, they'd pass on that cost to you and me at the drive-up window getting our fast-food burger, fries, and shake.
Same with Walmart, prices would go up to make up the difference. But remember these aren't the Welfare Queens Reagan referred to, but folks who are working 40 hours per week, and they still fall below the poverty line, thus qualifying them for government goodies that you conservatives don't want them to have. Well, you can't have it both ways, either we pay more at the store and those folks get a living wage, or we pay more in taxes so they can get government goodies. Seems to me, you "market driven" fanatics of the right should be jumping on board to get these folks off the government dole and allowing their employers to pick up the tab in true capitalistic market driven spirit. Keeping them on the dole is a "socialistic approach" that I'm sure you'd not want to continue. So put your belief in the market into action. The minimum wage needs to be raised.
The other thing that needs to happen is free training to modernize, upgrade folks' skills so they can qualify for the newer high-tech jobs, thus helping them to make a better wage, meaning more taxes they pay as their life standards improve. This sort of thing raises the water level for all boats sitting in the harbor, not just the wealthist folks' yachts.
A graph that shows which Christian groups, and by party, support raising the Minimum wage to $10/hr. Interestingly 42% of TEA party folks and 61% of White Evangelical Christians support raising the minimum wage...
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