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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.
GS

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list


WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY, January 30 and 31, 2013

"WILL OBAMA BE 'THE REAGAN OF THE LEFT"'?, as Charles Krauthammer persuasively proposes in his most recent article  - a MUST READ for anyone concerned about the future of this country (in The Day Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, Opinion, pA6). 
Indeed, this period on our national history can end up being as divisive and consequential as was the division during the American Revolution, when 30% of the colonists were Loyalists, and during the Civil War between North and South.  This is not hyperbole.  This is serious.
 
Perhaps the statement allegedly by Nikita Khrushchev made many years ago will draw the attention of some of the dreamy-eyed supporters of this obstinate revolutionary currently occupying the White House.

GS



TUESDAY, January 29, 2013

I haven't read the book yet, but I'm not convinced. One thing I know: The Fathers of the Church had a real problem with Sex, Sexuality and women from the very beginning.  Why, I don't know.

GS

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ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
News Agency
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Celibacy and the Priesthood
30 Questions and Answers

Why can’t priests marry? It’s a question people often ask and the requirement of celibacy has also been blamed as one of the causes of sexual abuse by priests.

A recently published translation of an Italian book addresses the topic in a question and answer format, “Married Priests? Thirty Crucial Questions about Celibacy” (Ignatius Press). It is edited by Arturo Cattaneo, with contributions from a wide variety of scholars.

We are faced with a great educational challenge in explaining the Church’s teaching on priestly celibacy, admitted Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

He likened celibacy to marriage. The underlying logic of priestly celibacy is the same one we encounter in Christian matrimony: the total gift of everything forever in love.

From the historical aspect the book noted that Christ chose celibacy for himself even though among the Jews this state of life was seen as a humiliation. He did not generate children physically but loved his disciples as brethren and shared a common life with them.

Jesus' way of communicating life was not through physical generation but spiritual. Therefore the celibacy of those who follow Jesus in the priesthood must be understood in the perspective of this spiritual transmission of eternal life.

One of the questions deals with the affirmation that celibacy did not become obligatory until the Middle Ages. For a start, the explanation noted, there is considerable Biblical evidence, both in the Gospels and the letters of St Paul, of support for celibacy as a sign of witness.

While it is true that during the early centuries married men were ordained, after their ordination they were expected to practice continence and those who were single at ordination or those widowed after ordination were not permitted to marry once they were priests.

All deacons, priests and bishops, the explanation continued, had to refrain from sexual activity from the day of ordination. Nowhere in the Church can it be proved that a married cleric legitimately begat children after his ordination.

Over time the Church realized that continence for married clerics was problematic regarding the sacramentality of marriage and so during the Middle Ages this led to the decision of requiring priests to be single.

Vocations

Why not allow married priests in order to attract more vocations? This, the book observed, is one of the most frequent arguments regarding celibacy. There is no evidence, however, that requiring less of candidates to the priesthood leads to increased numbers of them, the answer replied.

Experience proves the contrary instead: vocations to the priesthood flourish and multiply when the radical gospel message is welcomed consistently and unapologetically.

The requirement of celibacy is not a dogma, another section of the book admitted, but this does not mean it is a merely disciplinary measure. Celibacy means that the priest should be similar to Christ and live as he did.

Jesus regarded himself as the “Bridegroom” of the whole community of believers. The explanation referred to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (5:21-33) that uses the image of marriage for the union between Christ and the Church.

Is not celibacy unnatural and the cause of crises among priests? In the answer to this question the author, in this case Manfred Lütz, a doctor of medicine in psychiatry, explained that the question is based on an erroneous premise. What about all the people who are unmarried – are they all unnatural?

The celibate life only becomes unnatural when being single turns into isolated selfishness or narcissism, Lütz continued.

Spiritual life

From his experience as a therapist Lütz said that crises among clergy do not come from celibacy, but rather from the drying up of the spiritual life.

A subsequent question also dealt with this theme of psychological equilibrium. It was answered by André-Marie Jerumanis, a priest and physician.

Celibacy, he explained, is not harmful to equilibrium or maturity if we take into account that it is a free choice of a psychologically mature person.

A human being is not just a mere bundle of instincts. Instead, as a person we have an intellect, a will and free choice, which makes possible self-control.

The more humanly and spiritually mature a person is, the more perfectly he will practice continence at the psychological level, not as frustration but as perfect freedom exercised in self-control and in complete availability to his personal mission, Jerumanis explained.

In another question Jerumanis dealt with the accusation that celibacy is a causal factor in sexual abuse. It would be rash to come to this conclusion, he affirmed, just as it would be rash to conclude that marital crises are due to the requirement that marriage be indissoluble.

Another contributor noted that no one would blame the institution of marriage as being responsible for a parent sexually abusing their child. He also observed that sexual abuse is just as prevalent in churches that have married clergy and that by far the largest number of cases of sexual abuse occurs in the immediate family.

These explanations and the other questions and answers make this book a valuable resource at a time of continued debate over celibacy.


MONDAY, January 28, 2013

"WE'VE GOT TO STOP BEING THE STUPID PARTY". Where have you heard that before?

GS

Jindal takes on Obama, challenges Republicans to redefine the party | The Ticket - Yahoo! News


SUNDAY, January 27, 2013

Lest we lose faith and courage in the fight against this abomination.

GS

AUL’s 2013 Life List


SATURDAY
, January 26, 2013

In 1955 I was in second year of medical school, riding three hours per weekday on the NYC subways.  I was also playing between two and three gigs per weekend with our dance band between September and June, and earning $15. per evening...sometimes more for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. Good money, good fun, little sleep.  And that summer I worked as a male nurse at Parkchester Hospital in the Bronx. 
A good year.

GS

Pictures from 1955


FRIDAY, January 25, 2013

IS SOMEBODY READING MY E-MAIL?

GS

The Singularity: Should We Worry? - Yahoo! News


THURSDAY, January 24, 2013

RR #1

Kurzweil has written that THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR". Beware: for millions of workers, THEIR SINGULARITY IS HERE.

GS

Practically human: Can smart machines do your job?

By PAUL WISEMAN, BERNARD CONDON and JONATHAN FAHEY | Associated PressFri, Jan 25, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — Art Liscano knows he's an endangered species in the job market: He's a meter reader in Fresno, Calif. For 26 years, he's driven from house to house, checking how much electricity Pacific Gas & Electric customers have used.

But PG&E doesn't need many people like Liscano making rounds anymore. Every day, the utility replaces 1,200 old-fashioned meters with digital versions that can collect information without human help, generate more accurate power bills, even send an alert if the power goes out.

"I can see why technology is taking over," says Liscano, 66, who earns $67,000 a year. "We can see the writing on the wall." His department employed 50 full-time meter readers just six years ago. Now, it has six.

From giant corporations to university libraries to start-up businesses, employers are using rapidly improving technology to do tasks that humans used to do. That means millions of workers are caught in a competition they can't win against machines that keep getting more powerful, cheaper and easier to use.

___

EDITOR'S NOTE: Second in a three-part series on the loss of middle-class jobs in the wake of the Great Recession, and the role of technology.

___

To better understand the impact of technology on jobs, The Associated Press analyzed employment data from 20 countries; and interviewed economists, technology experts, robot manufacturers, software developers, CEOs and workers who are competing with smarter machines.

The AP found that almost all the jobs disappearing are in industries that pay middle-class wages, ranging from $38,000 to $68,000. Jobs that form the backbone of the middle class in developed countries in Europe, North America and Asia.

In the United States, half of the 7.5 million jobs lost during the Great Recession paid middle-class wages, and the numbers are even more grim in the 17 European countries that use the euro as their currency. A total of 7.6 million midpay jobs disappeared in those countries from January 2008 through last June.

Those jobs are being replaced in many cases by machines and software that can do the same work better and cheaper.

"Everything that humans can do a machine can do," says Moshe Vardi, a computer scientist at Rice University in Houston. "Things are happening that look like science fiction."

Google and Toyota are rolling out cars that can drive themselves. The Pentagon deploys robots to find roadside explosives in Afghanistan and wages war from the air with drone aircraft. North Carolina State University this month introduced a high-tech library where robots — "bookBots" — retrieve books when students request them, instead of humans. The library's 1.5 million books are no longer displayed on shelves; they're kept in 18,000 metal bins that require one-ninth the space.

The advance of technology is producing wondrous products and services that once were unthinkable. But it's also taking a toll on people because they so easily can be replaced.

In the U.S., more than 1.1 million secretaries vanished from the job market between 2000 and 2010, their job security shattered by software that lets bosses field calls themselves and arrange their own meetings and trips. Over the same period, the number of telephone operators plunged by 64 percent, word processors and typists by 63 percent, travel agents by 46 percent and bookkeepers by 26 percent, according to Labor Department statistics.

In Europe, technology is shaking up human resources departments across the continent. "Nowadays, employees are expected to do a lot of what we used to think of as HR from behind their own computer," says Ron van Baden, a negotiator with the Dutch labor union federation FNV. "It used to be that you could walk into the employee affairs office with a question about your pension, or the terms of your contract. That's all gone and automated."

Two-thirds of the 7.6 million middle-class jobs that vanished in Europe were the victims of technology, estimates economist Maarten Goos at Belgium's University of Leuven.

Does technology also create jobs? Of course. But at nowhere near the rate that it's killing them off — at least for the foreseeable future.

Here's a look at three technological factors reshaping the economies and job markets in developed countries:

BIG DATA

At the heart of the biggest technological changes today is what computer scientists call "Big Data." Computers thrive on information, and they're feasting on an unprecedented amount of it — from the Internet, from Twitter messages and other social media sources, from the barcodes and sensors being slapped on everything from boxes of Huggies diapers to stamping machines in car plants.

According to a Harvard Business Review article by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, more information now crosses the Internet every second than the entire Internet stored 20 years ago. Every hour, they note, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. collects 50 million filing cabinets' worth of information from its dealings with customers.

No human could make sense of so much data. But computers can. They can sift through mountains of information and deliver valuable insights to decision-makers in businesses and government agencies. For instance, Wal-Mart's analysis of Twitter traffic helped convince it to increase the amount of "Avengers" merchandise it offered when the superhero movie came out last year and to introduce a private-label corn chip in the American Southwest.

Google's automated car can only drive by itself by tapping into Google's vast collection of maps and using information pouring in from special sensors to negotiate traffic.

"What's different to me is the raw amount of data out there because of the Web, because of these devices, because we're attaching sensors to things," says McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT's Center for Digital Business and the co-author of "Race Against the Machine."

"The fuel of science is data," he says. "We have so much more of that rocket fuel."

So far, public attention has focused on the potential threats to privacy as companies use technology to gather clues about their customers' buying habits and lifestyles.

"What is less visible," says software entrepreneur Martin Ford, "is that organizations are collecting huge amounts of data about their internal operations and about what their employees are doing." The computers can use that information to "figure out how to do a great many jobs" that humans do now.

Gary Mintchell, editor in chief of Automation World, recalls starting work in manufacturing years ago as a "grunge, white-collar worker." He'd walk around the factory floor with a clipboard, recording information from machines, then go back to an office and enter the data by hand onto a spreadsheet.

Now that grunge work is conducted by powerful "operations management" software systems developed by businesses such as General Electric Intelligent Platforms in Charlottesville, Va. These systems continuously collect, analyze and summarize in digestible form information about all aspects of factory operations —energy consumption, labor costs, quality problems, customer orders.

And the guys wandering the factory floor with clipboards? They're gone.

THE CLOUD

In the old days — say, five years ago — businesses that had to track lots of information needed to install servers in their offices and hire technical staff to run them. "Cloud computing" has changed everything.

Now, companies can store information on the Internet — perhaps through Amazon Web Services or Google App Engine — and grab it when they need it. And they don't need to hire experts to do it.

Cloud computing "is a catch-all term for the ability to rent as much computer power as you need without having to buy it, without having to know a lot about it," McAfee says. "It really has opened up very high-powered computing to the masses."

Small businesses, which have no budget for a big technology department, are especially eager to take advantage of the cheap computer power offered in the cloud.

Hilliard's Beer in Seattle, founded in October 2011, bought software from the German company SAP that allows it to use cloud computing to track sales and inventory and to produce the reports that federal regulators require.

"It automates a lot of the stuff that we do," owner Ryan Hilliard says. "I know what it takes to run a server. I didn't want to hire an IT guy."

And the brewery keeps finding new ways to use the beefed-up computing power. For example, it's now tracking what happens to the kegs it delivers to restaurants and retrieving them sooner for reuse. "Kegs are a pretty big expense for a small brewery," Hilliard says.

Automated Insights in Durham, N.C., draws on the computing power of the cloud to produce automated sports stories, such as customized weekly summaries for fantasy football leagues. "We're able to create over 1,000 pieces of content per second at a very cost-effective rate," says founder Robbie Allen. He says his startup would not have been possible without cloud computing.

SMARTER MACHINES

Though many are still working out the kinks, software is making machines and devices smarter every year. They can learn your habits, recognize your voice, do the things that travel agents, secretaries and interpreters have traditionally done.

Microsoft has unveiled a system that can translate what you say into Mandarin and play it back — in your voice. The Google Now personal assistant can tell you if there's a traffic jam on your regular route home and suggest an alternative. Talk to Apple's Siri and she can reschedule an appointment. IBM's Watson supercomputer can field an awkwardly worded question, figure out what you're trying to ask, retrieve the answer and spit it out fast enough to beat human champions on the TV quiz show "Jeopardy!" Computers with that much brainpower increasingly will invade traditional office work.

Besides becoming more powerful and creative, machines and their software are becoming easier to use. That has made consumers increasingly comfortable relying on them to transact business. As well as eliminated jobs of bank tellers, ticket agents and checkout cashiers.

People who used to say "Let me talk to a person. I don't want to deal with this machine" are now using check-in kiosks at airports and self-checkout lanes at supermarkets and drugstores, says Jeff Connally, CEO of CMIT Solutions, a technology consultancy.

The most important change in technology, he says, is "the profound simplification of the user interface."

Four years ago, the Darien, Conn., public library bought self-service check-out machines from 3M Co. Now, with customers scanning books themselves, the library is processing more books than ever while shaving 15 percent from staff hours by using fewer part-time workers.

So machines are getting smarter and people are more comfortable using them. Those factors, combined with the financial pressures of the Great Recession, have led companies and government agencies to cut jobs the past five years, yet continue to operate just as well.

How is that happening?

—Reduced aid from Indiana's state government and other budget problems forced the Gary, Ind., public school system last year to cut its annual transportation budget in half, to $5 million. The school district responded by using sophisticated software to draw up new, more efficient bus routes. And it cut 80 of 160 drivers.

When the Great Recession struck, the Seattle police department didn't have money to replace retiring officers. So it turned to technology — a new software system that lets police officers file crime-scene reports from laptops in their patrol cars.

The software was nothing fancy, just a collection of forms and pull-down menus, but the impact was huge. The shift from paper eliminated the need for two dozen transcribers and filing staff at police headquarters, and freed desk-bound officers to return to the streets.

"A sergeant used to read them, sign them, an officer would photocopy them and another drive them to headquarters," says Dick Reed, an assistant chief overseeing technology. "Think of the time, think of the salary. You're paying an officer to make photocopies."

Thanks to the software, the department has been able to maintain the number of cops on the street at 600.

The software, from Versaterm, a Canadian company, is being used by police in dozens of cities, including Denver, Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas.

—In South Korea, Standard Chartered is expanding "smart banking" branches that employ a staff of three, compared with an average of about eight in traditional branches. The bank has closed a dozen full-service branches, replacing them with the smart branches, and expects to have 30 more by the end of this year. Customers do most of their banking on computer screens, and can connect with Standard Chartered specialists elsewhere by video-conference if they need help.

Comerica, a bank based in Dallas, is using new video-conferencing equipment that lets cash-management experts make pitches to potential corporate clients from their desks. Those experts, based in Livonia, Mich., used to board planes and visit prospects in person. Now, they get Comerica colleagues in various cities to pay visits to local companies and conference them in.

"The technology for delivering (high quality) video over a public Internet connection was unavailable 12 or 18 months ago," says Paul Obermeyer, Comerica's chief information officer. "Now, we're able to generate more revenue with the same employee base."

The networking equipment also allows video to be delivered to smart phones, so the experts can make pitches on the run, too.

—The British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto announced plans last year to invest $518 million in the world's first long-haul, heavy-duty driverless train system at its Pilbara iron ore mines in Western Australia. The automated trains are expected to start running next year. The trains are part of what Rio Tinto calls its "Mine of the Future" program, which includes 150 driverless trucks and automated drills.

Like many technologically savvy startups, Dirk Vander Kooij's furniture-making company in the Netherlands needs only a skeleton crew — four people. The hard work at the Eindhoven-based company is carried out by an old industrial robot that Vander Kooij fashioned into a 3D printer. Using plastic recycled from old refrigerators, the machine "prints" furniture — ranging in price from a $300 chair to a $3,000 lamp — the way an ordinary printer uses ink to print documents. Many analysts expect 3D printing to revolutionize manufacturing, allowing small firms like Vander Kooij's to make niche products without hiring many people.

Google's driverless car and the Pentagon's drone aircraft are raising the specter of highways and skies filled with cars and planes that can get around by themselves.

"A pilotless airliner is going to come; it's just a question of when," James Albaugh, retired CEO of Boeing Commercial Airlines, said in 2011, according to IEEE Spectrum magazine. "You'll see it in freighters first, over water probably, landing very close to the shore."

Unmanned trains already have arrived. The United Arab Emirates introduced the world's longest automated rail system — 32 miles — in Dubai in 2009.

And the trains on several Japanese rail lines run by themselves. Tokyo's Yurikamome Line, which skirts Tokyo Bay, is completely automated. The line — named for the black-headed sea gull that is Tokyo's official bird — employs only about 60 employees at its 16 stations. "Certainly, using the automated systems does reduce the number of staff we need," says Katsuya Hagane, the manager in charge of operations at New Transit Yurikamome.

Driverless cars will have a revolutionary impact on traffic one day — and the job market. In the United States alone, 3.1 million people drive trucks for a living, 573,000 drive buses, 342,000 drive taxis or limousines. All those jobs will be threatened by automated vehicles.

—Phone companies and gas and electric utilities are using technology to reduce their payrolls. Since 2007, for instance, telecommunications giant Verizon has increased its annual revenue 19 percent — while employing 17 percent fewer workers. The smaller work force partly reflects the shift toward cellphones and away from landlines, which require considerably more maintenance. But even the landlines need less human attention because Verizon is rapidly replacing old-fashioned copper lines with lower-maintenance, fiber-optic cables.

Verizon also makes it easier for customers to deal with problems themselves without calling a repairman. From their homes, consumers can open Verizon's In-home Agent software on their computers. The system can determine why a cable TV box isn't working or why the Internet connection is down — and fix the problem in minutes. The program has been downloaded more than 2 million times, Verizon says.

And then there are the meter readers like PG&E's Liscano. Their future looks grim.

Southern California Edison finished its digital meter installation program late last year. All but 20,000 of its 5.3 million customers have their power usage beamed directly to the utility.

Nearly all of the 972 meter readers in Southern California Edison's territory accepted retirement packages or were transferred within the company, says Pat Lavin of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. But 92 workers are being laid off this month.

"Trying to keep it from happening would have been like the Teamsters in the early 1900s trying to stop the combustion engine," Lavin says. "You can't stand in the way of technology."

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NEXT: Will smart machines create a world without work?

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An AP interactive that accompanies the Great Reset series explores job growth in recent economic recoveries and includes an in-depth video analysis: —http://bigstory.ap.org/interactive/interactive-great-reset/

___

Bernard Condon and Jonathan Fahey reported from New York. AP Business Writers Christopher S. Rugaber in Washington, Youkyung Lee in Seoul, Toby Sterling in Amsterdam and Elaine Kurtenbach in Tokyo contributed to this report. You can reach the writers on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BernardFCondon and www.twitter.com/PaulWisemanAP.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Second in a three-part series on the loss of middle-class jobs in the wake of the Great Recession, and the role of technology.


RR #2

ON THE STRENGTH OF THE SEXUAL DRIVE, PROCREATION AND BIOLOGIC VARIATIONS: A FEW QUESTIONS.

GS

High school senior comes out as ‘LGBT’ while accepting award

By | The LookoutWed, Jan 23, 2013

Coming out as LGBT is rarely easy, which makes Jacob Rudolph's story all the more impressive. When the high school student in Parsippany, N.J., came out, he did so in front of the entire school. His classmates responded with a standing ovation.

During the presentation of senior class awards, Rudolph was given the Class Actor award, an irony not lost on him. "Sure I've been in a few plays and musicals, but more importantly, I've been acting every single day of my life," Rudolph said. "You see, I've been acting as someone I'm not."

Rudolph continued:

Most of you see me every day. You see me acting the part of "straight" Jacob, when I am in fact LGBT. Unlike millions of other LGBT teens who have had to act every day to avoid verbal harassment and physical violence, I'm not going to do it anymore. It's time to end the hate in our society and accept the people for who they are regardless of their sex, race, orientation, or whatever else may be holding back love and friendship. So take me, leave me, or move me out of the way. Because I am what I am, and that's how I'm going to act from now on.

Footage of Rodolph's speech and its positive reception was uploaded to the Web by his father, who noted on the video that it "took more guts to do than anything I've ever attempted in my life."

[Related: Obama's second inaugural: The most important gay rights speech ever?]

Rudolph spoke with NJ.com about his speech and the aftermath. "The more leaders who pop up in the LGBT community, the more it inspires others. It just becomes a whole domino effect," he said.

"It felt like this immense weight was gone," he added. "I'd been carrying it around with me for years. It affected me academically, emotionally, socially. It's like my life is now before and after. I think that explanation is what made this whole process make sense."

[Related: Jodie Foster's full Golden Globes speech]

The reactions have been across-the-board positive, including on Twitter. Anthony G. Watson tweeted, "‏#Jacob #Rudolph Gay New Jersey Teen, Comes Out During School Award Ceremony! We are all very proud of you!"

Ben Rudolph wrote, "I don't think I'm related to Jacob Rudolph (not this one, anyway)...but I'm still proud of him."

And another supporter wrote, "Things That Make Me Smile: Teenager Jacob Rudolph comes out to his parents, teachers, and his whole class..."


RR #3

PROTECTING OUR KIDS AND OURSELVES. While the cretins, the egg-heads and the tin men are bloviating about how to protect our children and ourselves from a literally crazy and immoral world out there, rational people are taking action. :And more and more individuals and communities are opting for this type of action. Meanwhile, don't hold your breath waiting for necessary changes in how we deal with the mentally ill - for their sake and for society's sake.

GS

In Arizona, controversial sheriff's posse watches over schools - Yahoo! News

RR #4

"Fixation" is it? "What difference at this point does it make", she says. Well, it makes A LOT OF DIFFERENCE when your government and your elected representatives lie to you. And Lie they did, again and again in the Benghazi affair. See the book written in 2010 by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano entitled "Lies The Government Told You".(Thomas Nelson Press). And and what happened to "Freedom of the Press?" They lie too, when they decide to back one group or another...as they have done in recent years and as they did during the Kennedy years. There are three kinds of liars: LIARS, DAMNED LIARS...AND THE GOVERNMENT. And it does matter, Madam Clinton!

GS

What's Behind the GOP's Fixation on Benghazi? - Yahoo! News


WEDNESDAY, January 23, 2013

RR #1

"Who knew?" Well, now we know. Will it take another 9/11 or worse for this administration to realize and own up to the world we in America live in?

GS


Al-Qaida carves out own country in Mali
By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI | Associated Press – Tue, Jan 15, 2013.

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Deep inside caves, in remote desert bases, in the escarpments and cliff faces of northern Mali, Islamic extremist fighters have been burrowing into the earth, erecting a formidable set of defenses to protect what has essentially become al-Qaida's new country.

They have used the bulldozers, earth movers and Caterpillar machines left behind by fleeing construction crews to dig what residents and local officials describe as an elaborate network of tunnels, trenches, shafts and ramparts. In just one case, inside a cave large enough to drive trucks into, they have stored up to 100 drums of gasoline, guaranteeing their fuel supply in the face of a foreign intervention, according to experts.

Now that intervention is here. On Friday, France deployed 550 troops and launched air strikes against the Islamists in northern Mali, starting battle in what is currently the biggest territory in the world held by al-Qaida and its allies. But the fighting has been harder than expected, and the extremists boast it will be worse than the decade-old struggle in Afghanistan.

"Al-Qaida never owned Afghanistan," said former United Nations diplomat Robert Fowler, a Canadian kidnapped and held for 130 days by al-Qaida's local chapter, whose fighters now control the main cities in the north. "They do own northern Mali."

Al-Qaida's affiliate in Africa — al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM— has been a shadowy presence for years in the forests and deserts of Mali, a country hobbled by poverty and a relentless cycle of hunger. Last year the terror syndicate and its allies took advantage of political instability in Mali to push out of their hiding place and into the towns, taking over an enormous territory larger than France or Texas — and almost exactly the size of Afghanistan.

The catalyst for the Islamic fighters was a military coup nine months ago by disgruntled soldiers, which transformed Mali from a once-stable nation to the failed state it is today. The fall of the nation's democratically elected government at the hands of junior officers destroyed the military's command-and-control structure, creating the vacuum which allowed a mix of rebel groups to move in.

After the international community debated for months over what to do, the United Nations Security Council called for a military intervention on condition that an exhaustive list of pre-emptive measures be taken, starting with training the Malian military. All that changed in a matter of hours last week, when French intelligence services spotted two rebel convoys heading south toward the towns of Segou and Mopti. Had either town fallen, many feared the Islamists would advance toward the capital, Bamako.

Over the weekend, Britain authorized sending several transport planes to bring in French troops. Other African nations have authorized sending troops, and the U.S. has pledged communications and logistical support.

The area under the rule of the Islamist fighters is mostly desert and sparsely populated, but analysts say that due to its size and the hostile nature of the terrain, rooting out the extremists here could prove even more difficult than it did in Afghanistan. Mali's former president has acknowledged, diplomatic cables show, that the country cannot patrol a frontier twice the length of the border between the United States and Mexico.

AQIM operates not just in Mali, but in a corridor along much of the northern Sahel. This 7,000-kilometer (4,300-mile) long ribbon of land runs across the widest part of Africa, and includes sections of Mauritania, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Burkina Faso and Chad.

"One could come up with a conceivable containment strategy for the Swat Valley," said Africa expert Peter Pham, an adviser to the U.S. military's African command center, referring to the region of Pakistan where Taliban fighters once dominated. "There's no containment strategy for the Sahel, which runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea."

The Islamists in northern Mali had been preparing for battle long before the French announcement, according to elected officials and residents in Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao, including a day laborer hired by al-Qaida's local chapter to clear rocks and debris for one of their defenses. They spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for their safety at the hands of the Islamists, who have previously accused those who speak to reporters of espionage.

The al-Qaida affiliate, which became part of the terror network in 2006, is one of three Islamist groups in northern Mali. The others are the Movement for the Unity and Jihad in West Africa, or MUJAO, based in Gao, and Ansar Dine, based in Kidal. Analysts agree that there is considerable overlap among the groups, and that all three can be considered sympathizers, even extensions, of al-Qaida.

The Islamic fighters have stolen equipment from construction companies, including more than $11 million worth from a French company called SOGEA-SATOM, according to Elie Arama, who works with the European Development Fund. The company had been contracted to build a European Union-financed highway in the north between Timbuktu and the village of Goma Coura. An employee of SOGEA-SATOM in Bamako declined to comment.

The official from Kidal said his constituents have reported seeing Islamic fighters with construction equipment riding in convoys behind 4-by-4 trucks draped with their signature black flag. His contacts among the fighters, including friends from secondary school, have told him they have created two bases, around 200 to 300 kilometers (120 and 180 miles) north of Kidal, in the austere, rocky desert.

The first base is occupied by al-Qaida's local fighters in the hills of Teghergharte, a region the official compared to Afghanistan's Tora Bora.

"The Islamists have dug tunnels, made roads, they've brought in generators, and solar panels in order to have electricity," he said. "They live inside the rocks."

Still further north, near Boghassa, is the second base, created by fighters from Ansar Dine. They, too, have used seized explosives, bulldozers and sledgehammers to make passages in the hills, he said.

In addition to creating defenses, the fighters are amassing supplies, experts said. A local who was taken by Islamists into a cave in the region of Kidal described an enormous room, where several cars were parked. Along the walls, he counted up to 100 barrels of gasoline, according to the man's testimony to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

In the regional capital of Gao, a young man told The Associated Press that he and several others were offered 10,000 francs a day by al-Qaida's local commanders (around $20), a rate several times the normal wage, to clear rocks and debris, and dig trenches. The youth said he saw Caterpillars and earth movers inside an Islamist camp at a former Malian military base 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Gao.

The fighters are piling mountains of sand from the ground along the dirt roads to force cars onto the pavement, where they have checkpoints everywhere, he said. In addition, they are modifying their all-terrain vehicles to mount them with arms.

"On the backs of their cars, it looks like they are mounting pipes," he said, describing a shape he thinks might be a rocket or missile launcher. "They are preparing themselves. Everyone is scared."

A university student from Gao confirmed seeing the modified cars. He said he also saw deep holes dug on the sides of the highway, possibly to give protection to fighters shooting at cars, along with cement barriers with small holes for guns.

In Gao, residents routinely see Moktar Belmoktar, the one-eyed emir of the al-Qaida-linked cell that grabbed Fowler in 2008. Belmoktar, a native Algerian, traveled to Afghanistan in the 1980s and trained in Osama bin Laden's camp in Jalalabad, according to research by the Jamestown Foundation. His lieutenant Oumar Ould Hamaha, whom Fowler identified as one of his captors, brushed off questions about the tunnels and caves but said the fighters are prepared.

"We consider this land our land. It's an Islamic territory," he said, reached by telephone in an undisclosed location.

He added that the Islamists have recruited new fighters, including from Western countries.

In December, two U.S. citizens from Alabama were arrested on terrorism charges, accused of planning to fly to Morocco and travel by land to Mali to wage jihad, or holy war. Two French nationals have also been detained on suspicion of trying to travel to northern Mali to join the Islamists. Hamaha himself said he spent a month in France preaching his fundamentalist version of Islam in Parisian mosques after receiving a visa for all European Union countries in 2001.

Hamaha indicated the Islamists have inherited stores of Russian-made arms from former Malian army bases, as well as from the arsenal of toppled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a claim that military experts have confirmed.

Those weapons include the SA-7 and SA-2 surface-to-air missiles, according to Hamaha, which can shoot down aircrafts. His claim could not be verified, but Rudolph Atallah, the former counterterrorism director for Africa in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said it makes sense.

"Gadhafi bought everything under the sun," said Atallah, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, who has traveled extensively to Mali on defense missions. "His weapons depots were packed with all kinds of stuff, so it's plausible that AQIM now has surface-to-air missiles."

Depending on the model, these missiles can range far enough to bring down planes used by ill-equipped African air forces, he said. However, they will be far less effective against the forces of the West, with their better equipment.

Another factor in the success of military intervention will be the reaction of the people, who, unlike in Afghanistan, have little history of extremism. Malians have long practiced a moderate form of Islam, where women do not wear burqas and few practice the strict form of the religion. The Islamists are imposing a far more severe form of Islam on the towns of the north, carrying out amputations in public squares, flogging women for not covering up and destroying world heritage sites.

The Islamists' recent advances draw on al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb's near decade of experience in Mali's northern desert, where Fowler and his fellow U.N. colleague were held captive for four months in 2008, an experience he recounts in his recent book, "A Season in Hell."

Originally from Algeria, the fighters fled across the border into Mali in 2003, after kidnapping 32 European tourists. Over the next decade, they used the country's vast northern desert to hold French, Spanish, Swiss, German, British, Austrian, Italian and Canadian hostages, raising an estimated $89 million in ransom payments, according to Stratfor, a global intelligence company.

During this time, they also established relationships with local clans, nurturing the ties that now protect them. Several commanders have taken local wives, and Hamaha, whose family is from Kidal, confirmed that Belmoktar is married to his niece.

Fowler described being driven for days by jihadists who knew Mali's featureless terrain by heart, navigating valleys of identical dunes with nothing more than the direction of the sun as their map. He saw them drive up to a thorn tree in the middle of nowhere to find barrels of diesel fuel. Elsewhere, he saw them dig a pit in the sand and bury a bag of boots, marking the spot on a GPS for future use.

In his four-month-long captivity, Fowler never saw his captors refill at a gas station, or shop in a market. Yet they never ran out of gas. And although their diet was meager, they never ran out of food, a testament to the extensive supply network which they set up and are now refining and expanding.

Among the many challenges an invading army will face is the inhospitable terrain, Fowler said, which is so hot that at times "it was difficult to draw breath." A cable published by WikiLeaks from the U.S. Embassy in Bamako described how even the Malian troops deployed in the north before the coup could only work from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m., and spent the sunlight hours in the shade of their vehicles.

Yet Fowler said he saw al-Qaida fighters chant Quranic verses under the Sahara sun for hours, just one sign of their deep, ideological commitment.

"I have never seen a more focused group of young men," said Fowler, who now lives in Ottawa, Canada. "No one is sneaking off for R&R. They have left their wives and children behind. They believe they are on their way to paradise."

___

Associated Press writer Baba Ahmed contributed to this report from Bamako and Mopti, Mali.

___

Rukmini Callimachi can be reached at www.twitter.com/rcallimachi

Baba Ahmed can be reached at www.twitter.com/Babahmed1

RR #2

The colossal arrogance of this group in the White House may be starting to bear fruit.  This is not a far-fetched idea or outcome.

GS

Article published Jan 16, 2013 in The Day
Executive order abuse: Grounds for impeachment
Peter Wilson Groton

During the course of his first term, President Obama was confronted with many near hysterical claims concerning his eligibility and qualifications. The Internet today abounds with citizen-proposed articles of impeachment that the House of Representatives could potentially take up. Most of these spurious articles lack legs and carry the not-so faint odor of political revenge.

Yet, in the few short weeks since his re-election, we have seen a clearer picture of the dark side of the president's progressive agenda: namely the attack on the First and Second Amendments enshrined in the Constitution's Bill of Rights. He is determined by force of law to require religious institutions to distribute abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives in violation of their most central beliefs. And using the Newtown tragedy as a catalyst, he now obviously intends to launch an assault upon - perhaps even a "confiscation" of - the Second Amendment by issuing a series of executive orders, a process which circumvents the law and that he has successfully employed elsewhere. His obvious contempt for our most cherished first two amendments should be the primary focus of any legitimate impeachment inquiry.


RR #3

It's Nothing to Sneeze At: The Flu is Here and Building Momentum

Here's some practical advice from the Red Cross for every individual and family. Their first recommendation? Get your flu shot now if you haven't already.
January 13, 2013

When the Mayor of Boston declares a flu health emergency in the city, with 700 reported cases and four deaths, people wake up and get serious.

Here's some real-time advice from the American Red Cross on how to avoid catching the flu, how not to spread it, and how best to take care of those in your family who come down with the flu.

More information for New London residents can be found on the Ledge Light Health District website by clicking here.

Widespread flu activity is being reported in 41 states, including Connecticut, and is the worst influenza outbreak in several years as reported by the Centers for Disease Control. Lawrence & Memorial Hospital put temporary visitation restrictions into place to help stop the spread of flu.

How to Protect Yourself From Getting the Flu:

If you haven't yet received a flu shot, get one right away. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting someone against flu viruses. In addition to getting vaccinated, the Red Cross has some simple steps people can take to help prevent the spread of the flu virus. Parents can also practice these things with their kids to help keep them well:

Signs of the Flu:

How does someone know they have the flu? The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, and vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children).

If someone in the household does come down with the flu, the Red Cross wants everyone to know the best way to care for them:

When to Call a Doctor or Healthcare Professional:

If someone thinks they have the flu, their health-care provider should be consulted. Seek medical care immediately if the person develops any of the following symptoms:


TUESDAY, January 22, 2013

RR #1

A good reminder of who and what we are.

GS

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Pontiff's Address to Cor Unum
The Christian vision of man is, in fact, a great 'yes' to the dignity of the person

Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday when receiving in audience participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

* * *

Dear friends,

I offer you my welcome with affection and joy on the occasion of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. I thank the president, Cardinal Robert Sarah, for his words and I address my cordial greeting to each one of you, extending it to all those who do charitable work in the Church. With the recent motu proprio Intima Ecclesiae natura I wished to emphasize the ecclesial meaning of your activity. Your witness can open the doors of faith to many people who seek Christ's love. Thus, in this Year of Faith the theme Charity, the New Ethics and Christian Anthropology, which you are taking up, reflects the close connection between love and truth, or, if you will, between faith and charity. The whole Christian ethos receives its meaning from faith as a meeting with the love of Christ, which offers a new horizon and impresses a decisive direction on life (cf. Deus caritas est, 1). Christina love finds its basis and form in faith. Meeting God and experiencing his love,
we learn no longer to live for ourselves but for him and, with him, for others (ibid. 33).

Beginning from this dynamic relationship between faith and charity, I would like to reflect on a point that I would call the prophetic dimension that faith instills in charity. The believer's adherence to the Gospel impresses on charity its typically Christian form and constitutes it as a principle of discernment. The Christian, especially those who work in charitable organizations, must let himself be oriented by principles of faith through which we adopt God's perspective, we accept his plan for us (cf. Deus caritas est, 1). This new way of looking at the world and man offered by faith also furnishes the correct criterion for the evaluation of expressions of charity in the present context.

In every age, when man did not try to follow this plan, he was victim of cultural temptations that ended up making him a slave. In recent centuries, the ideologies that praised the cult of the nation, the race, of the social class, showed themselves to be nothing but idolatry; and the same can be said of unbridled capitalism with its cult of profit, which has led to crisis, inequality and misery. There is a growing consensus today about the inalienable dignity of the human being and the reciprocal and interdependent responsibility toward man; and this is to the benefit of true civilization, the civilization of love. On the other hand, unfortunately, there are also shadows in our time that obscure God's plan. I am referring above all to a tragic anthropological reduction that re-proposes ancient material hedonism, to which is added a technological prometheism. From the marriage of a materialistic vision of man and great technological development there emerges an anthropology t
hat is at bottom atheistic. It presupposes that man is reduced to autonomous functions, the mind to the brain, human history to a destiny of self-realization. All of this prescinds from God, from the properly spiritual dimension and from a horizon beyond this world. In the perspective of a man deprived of his soul and of a personal relation with the Creator, that which is technologically possible becomes morally legitimate, every experiment is thus acceptable, every political demographic acceptable, every form of manipulation justified. The danger most to be feared in this current of thought is the absolutization of man: man wants to be ab-solutus, absolved of every bond and of every natural constitution. He pretends to be independent and thinks that his happiness lies solely in the affirmation of self. Man calls his nature into question … From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be (Speech to the Roman Curia, De
cember 21, 2012). This is a radical negation of man's creatureliness and filial condition, which leads to a tragic solitude.

The faith and healthy Christian discernment bring us therefore to pay prophetic attention to this problematic ethical situation and to the mentality that it supposes. Just collaboration with international organizations in the field of development and in human promotion must not make us close our eyes to these dangerous ideologies, and the Pastors of the Church – which is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15) – have a duty to warn both faithful Catholics and every person of good will and right reason about these deviations. This is a harmful deviation for man even if it is waved with good intentions as a banner of presumed progress, or of presumed rights, or of a presumed humanism. In the face of these anthropological reductions, what is the task of every Christian – and especially your task – involved in charitable work, and so in direct relations with many social protagonists? We certainly must exercise a critical vigilance and, sometime
s, refuse money and collaboration that would, directly or indirectly, support actions and projects that run contrary to a Christian anthropology. But, positively speaking, the Church is always committed to the promotion of man according to God's plan, man in his integral dignity, with respect for his twofold vertical and horizontal dimension. The actions of ecclesial development organizations are also oriented in this direction. The Christian vision of man is, in fact, a great yes to the dignity of the person called to intimate communion with God, a filial communion, humble and confident. The human being is neither an individual subsisting in himself nor an anonymous element of the collective. He is rather a singular and unrepeatable person intrinsically ordered to relationship and sociality. For this reason the Church stresses her great yes to the dignity and beauty of marriage as an expression of a faithful and fecund alliance between man and woman, and says no to such phi
losophies as the philosophy of gender. The Church is guided by the fact that the reciprocity between man and woman is the expression of the beauty of the nature willed by the Creator.

Dear friends, I thank you for your commitment on behalf of man, in fidelity to his true dignity. In the face of these challenges of our times, we know that the answer is the encounter with Christ. In him man can fully realize his personal good and the common good. I encourage you to continue in your work with a joyful and generous spirit as I bestow upon you the Apostolic Benediction from my heart.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

RR #2

Video: Our pro-abortion President unwittingly makes the pro-life case



See also...

RR #3

[Therese] had a very similar experience as an OR nurse...and never forgot it.

GS

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Denver Prelate Remembers Personal Experience With Abortion

Archbishop Aquila Releases 1st Pastoral Letter as Nation Marks Roe vs Wade Anniversary

Archbishop Samuel Aquila, the new archbishop of Denver, released a pastoral letter today, as the United States marks the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. In the letter, his first since arriving to Denver, the 62-year-old prelate recalls his own personal experience with abortion.


I went to college in 1968 with the idea of becoming a doctor, like my father, the archbishop begins.

He recounts how his first three years of college were spent working as a hospital orderly: At that time, some states had approved abortion laws that I wasn't even aware of. Because of those laws, when I was in college I witnessed the results of two abortions.

The first was in a surgical unit. I walked into an outer room and in the sink, unattended, was the body of small unborn child who had been aborted. I remember being stunned. I remember thinking that I had to baptize that child.


The second abortion was more shocking. A young woman came into the emergency room screaming. She explained that she had had an abortion already. When the doctor sent her home, he told her she would pass the remains naturally. She was bleeding as the doctor, her boyfriend, the nurse and I placed her on a table.


I held a basin as the doctor retrieved a tiny arm, a tiny leg and then the rest of the broken body of a tiny unborn child. I was shocked. I was saddened for the mother and child, for the doctor and the nurse. None of us would have participated in such a thing were it not an emergency. I witnessed a tiny human being destroyed by violence.

Archbishop Aquila said the memories of those events haunt him. In the abortions I witnessed, powerful people made decisions that ended the lives of small, powerless, children. Through lies and manipulation, children were seen as objects.

I witnessed the death of two small people who never had the chance to take a breath, the prelate wrote. I can never forget that. And I have never been the same. My faith was weak at the time. But I knew by reason, and by what I saw, that a human life was destroyed.

Coarsened

The Denver archbishop said there is a responsibility to work and pray without ceasing for the end of abortion.

Tolerating abortion for 40 years has coarsened us, Archbishop Aquila warned. We've learned to see people as problems and objects. [...] Today we must recognize that 40 years of sanctioned killing has given the culture of death a firm footing and foundation in our nation.

The prelate stated that Christians bear some responsibility for our national shame, because some have supported pro-choice positions or failed to change minds or win hearts.

We've failed to convince the culture that all life has dignity. In the prospect of unspeakable evil, we’ve done too little, for too long, with tragic results, he said. Today is a day to repent. But with repentance comes resolve to start anew. The 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is a day to commit to a culture of life. Today the Lord is calling us to stand up.

Prepared

The letter goes on to explain the Church's teaching on the dignity of human life, as the pastor urges the faithful to be prepared to defend this truth.

Despite the clear teaching of the Church, many Catholics, and especially Catholic politicians, maintain that their personal opposition to abortion should not affect their participation in civic life. These arguments are unreasonable, and disingenuous. No one, especially a person in public office, is exempt from the duty to defend the common good. And the first and indispensable condition for the common good is respect for the right to life, Archbishop Aquila wrote. 

He said that at the base of arguments that recognize abortion as immoral but support its legal protection is relativism and cowardice.

Catholic political leaders who claim that they can separate the truths of faith from their political lives are choosing to separate themselves from truth, from Christ, and from the communion of the Catholic Church, the prelate added. On the contrary, Catholic political leaders who truly understand the teachings of the Church and who use their creativity and initiative to develop new and creative ways to end the legal protection for abortion deserve the praise and support of the Church, and of the lay faithful. All of us must put our energy and effort into ending the legal protection for abortion. It is, and must be, the primary political objective of American Catholics -- it is difficult to imagine any political issue with the same significance as the sanctioned killing of children.

Culture

The prelate said that legal efforts are important but that law follows culture and when we live in a culture that respects the dignity of all human life, laws will follow suit.

A culture of life, quite simply, is one which joyfully receives and celebrates the divine gift of life. A culture of life recognizes human dignity not as an academic or theological concept, but as an animating principle—as a measure of the activity of the family and the community. A culture of life supports most especially the life of the family. It supports and celebrates the dignity of the disabled, the unborn, and the aged. A culture of life seeks to live in gratitude for the gift of life God has given us, he said.

Particularly, the archbishop called for charity in the family.

The charity of the culture of life also supports works of mercy, apostolates of social justice and support. Families impacted by the culture of death are often broken. Supporting adoption, marriage, responsible programs of social welfare and healthcare, and responsible immigration policy all speak to a culture which embraces and supports the dignity of life, the letter notes.

Archbishop Aquila observed that a true culture of life is infectious.

The joy which comes from living in gratitude for the gift of life -- and treating all life as gift -- effects change, he said. When Christians begin to live with real regard for human dignity, our nation will awaken to the tragedy of abortion, and she will begin to change.


MONDAY, January 21, 2013

Rev. Martin Luther King Day - And The  Presidential Inauguration.

I really don't mean to be negative. I just think that we should learn from History, if we are to progress as a society.  The Black community, and especially their "leaders", made several serious errors since the late 1960's in trying properly to promote their rightful place in society.  They allowed their family life to be distorted by embracing the single parent-child out of wedlock-approach to "independence". They supported and practiced the abomination of abortion while failing to realize that that was the new slavery. They embraced the Democratic Party that allowed the teachers' unions to guarantee the destruction of the public school system on which they were totally dependent. There are clear lessons in all of this, lessons for the future if our Black brethren wish to progress, individually and collectively.

Meanwhile, although not having supported or voted for him, I wish only good fortune for President Obama - for the sake of the nation.  I only hope that we did not witness today another page from "Don Quixote", his "Quest", and an "impossible dream".

GS

King 'content of character' quote inspires debate

By JESSE WASHINGTON | Associated PressSun, Jan 20, 2013

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

This sentence spoken by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has been quoted countless times as expressing one of America's bedrock values, its language almost sounding like a constitutional amendment on equality.

Yet today, 50 years after King shared this vision during his most famous speech, there is considerable disagreement over what it means.

The quote is used to support opposing views on politics, affirmative action and programs intended to help the disadvantaged. Just as the words of the nation's founders are parsed for modern meanings on guns and abortion, so are King's words used in debates over the proper place of race in America.

As we mark the King holiday, what might he ask of us in a time when both the president and a disproportionate number of people in poverty are black? Would King have wanted us to completely ignore race in a "color-blind" society? To consider race as one of many factors about a person? And how do we discern character?

For at least two of King's children, the future envisioned by the father has yet to arrive.

"I don't think we can ignore race," says Martin Luther King III.

"What my father is asking is to create the climate where every American can realize his or her dreams," he says. "Now what does that mean when you have 50 million people living in poverty?"

Bernice King doubts her father would seek to ignore differences.

"When he talked about the beloved community, he talked about everyone bringing their gifts, their talents, their cultural experiences," she says. "We live in a society where we may have differences, of course, but we learn to celebrate these differences."

The meaning of King's monumental quote is more complex today than in 1963 because "the unconscious signals have changed," says the historian Taylor Branch, author of the acclaimed trilogy "America in the King Years."

Fifty years ago, bigotry was widely accepted. Today, Branch says, even though prejudice is widely denounced, many people unconsciously pre-judge others.

"Unfortunately race in American history has been one area in which Americans kid themselves and pretend to be fair-minded when they really are not," says Branch, whose new book is "The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement."

Branch believes that today, King would ask people of all backgrounds — not just whites — to deepen their patriotism by leaving their comfort zones, reaching across barriers and learning about different people.

"To remember that we all have to stretch ourselves to build the ties that bind a democracy, which really is the source of our strength," Branch says.

Bernice King says her father is asking us "to get to a place — we're obviously not there — but to get to a place where the first thing that we utilize as a measurement is not someone's external designation, but it really is trying to look beyond that into the substance of a person in making certain decisions, to rid ourselves of those kinds of prejudices and biases that we often bring to decisions that we make."

That takes a lot of "psychological work," she says, adding, "He's really challenging us."

For many conservatives, the modern meaning of King's quote is clear: Special consideration for one racial or ethnic group is a violation of the dream.

The quote is like the Declaration of Independence, says Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative think tank that studies race and ethnicity. In years past, he says, America may have needed to grow into the words, but today they must be obeyed to the letter.

"The Declaration of Independence says all men are created equal," Clegg says. "Nobody thinks it doesn't really mean what it says because Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. King gave a brilliant and moving quotation, and I think it says we should not be treating people differently on the basis of skin color."

Many others agree. King's quote has become a staple of conservative belief that "judged by the color of their skin" includes things such as unique appeals to certain voter groups, reserving government contracts for Hispanic-owned businesses, seeking more non-white corporate executives, or admitting black students to college with lower test scores.

In the latest issue of the Weekly Standard magazine, the quote appears in the lead of a book review titled "The Price Was High: Affirmative Action and the Betrayal of a Colorblind Society."

Considering race as a factor in affirmative action keeps the wounds of slavery and Jim Crow "sore and festering. It encourages beneficiaries to rely on ethnicity rather than self-improvement to get ahead," wrote the author, George Leef.

Last week, the RightWingNews.com blog included "The idea that everyone should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin" in a list of "25 People, Places and Things Liberals Love to Hate."

"Conservatives feel they have embraced that quote completely. They are the embodiment of that quote but get no credit for doing it," says the author of the article, John Hawkins. "Liberals like the idea of the quote because it's the most famous thing Martin Luther King said, but they left the principles behind the quote behind a long time ago."

In October, after black actress Stacey Dash was attacked for switching her support from President Barack Obama to Mitt Romney, she said she chose Romney "not by the color of his skin but the content of his character."

Clegg acknowledges that it can be difficult today for some people to resist jumping to conclusions based on skin color.

He says past discrimination resulted in fewer opportunities for African-Americans, which increased poverty, unemployment, and other social pathologies in the black community. "Then white people say, what did we tell you, that's the way these people are," Clegg says. "It's wrong, people shouldn't do it, but it's going to happen."

Yet as we discipline ourselves not to pre-judge African-Americans, Clegg says, we cannot forget that King asked us to judge character. That means taking actions such as reducing the high rate of black children born to unmarried parents and placing more value on education, he says.

"I don't think King would neglect the 'content of their character' side today," he says.

"You have to break the vicious cycle from both ends. People have to do their best not to use stereotypes, but at the same time, people have to not live up to them."

Some doubt we will ever be able to ignore what a person looks like.

"To ignore color is to ignore reality," says Lewis Baldwin, an Alabama native who marched in the civil rights movement and now teaches courses on King at Vanderbilt University.

"Dr. King understood that we all see we are different. You accept color differences, affirm them, celebrate them, but don't allow them to become a barrier to human community," said Baldwin, author of a new King book, "In A Single Garment of Destiny: A Global Vision of Justice."

Yet Martin Luther King III believes that one day we will be able to live every word of his father's dream.

"I think my father's vision was that we should at some point have a colorblind society," he says. "He always was challenging us to be the best nation we could be."

___

Jesse Washington covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. He is reachable at http://www.twitter.com/jessewashington or jwashington(at)ap.org.

___

Associated Press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.


SUNDAY, January 20, 2013

RR #1

NOW THAT'S A LEADER AND LEADERSHIP.  AND A GOOD MAN.

GS

Article published Jan 20, 2013 in The Day
Malloy criticizes gaming industry, gun makers
By CHARLES J. LEWIS Hearst Newspapers

Addressing U.S. mayors, governor blasts opposition to reducing firearms violence
Washington - Hundreds of U.S. mayors gave a rousing ovation Saturday to Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy after he blasted the entertainment industry for helping "de-stigmatize" violence at a time when American society is uncertain how to deal with mental health issues.
Speaking with the fervor born of the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Malloy told the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors that the nation should remove the stigma from mental health issues.
"If we spent as much time and energy on de-stigmatizing mental health treatment as we do in the proliferation of these video games that de-stigmatize violence, we as a society would make great gains," Malloy declared.
Malloy, the mayor of Stamford for 14 years and former trustee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, received an enthusiastic reception from the group that has a long history of urging tougher gun restrictions.
Referring to that part of his career, Malloy told the group that he appreciated "the opportunity to come home again" and then proceeded to lacerate the entertainment industry and gun manufacturers for opposing steps to reduce gun violence.
He urged universal background checks for gun buyers and limits on assault weapons and the size of ammunition magazines.
There's no reason to allow anyone to buy a gun without a background check, he declared.
"Actually, there is a reason," he continued. "People make money. And in making that money, they think they have an interest that is superior to the interest that we have in our own children, in our own cities." Referring to gun manufacturers and retailers, Malloy said their focus on profits leads them "to do everything in their power to block wider use of background checks that might lead to the disqualification of potential gun buyers.''
From that point of view, "the loss of potential purchasers is greater than the value of your grandchildren - and that is wrong! And it has to be addressed. And we can't stop until it happens. ... The American people understand this is not a fair tradeoff."
Speaking without notes, Malloy evoked gasps from the audience when he said on "the day that Newtown happened, there were games available that actually allowed people to go into a school in the game and "shoot 'em up."
"Why do we do that?" he continued. "When we're willing to de-stigmatize violence and willing to bring it home to your living room or your den and put it on a 50-inch screen" and play the video game that gives you points "when you hit someone with your semiautomatic and more points depending on how many times you hit someone with your semiautomatic, where is the social value in that? Is this the kind of thing we want to be involved in as a nation?"
The shootings in Newtown were "life changing for all of us in so many ways," Malloy said, as he described the heroic efforts of staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School to defend their young students.
In his plea for expanded mental health access, Malloy said that "many of us at some time in our lives need treatment in the mental health arena," citing depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse.
"And the vast percentage of people recover - and yet we continue to stigmatize mental health treatment," he said, as he urged steps to improve access to mental health treatment.
He blamed the National Rifle Association for pressuring Congress to block a federal study of gun violence and to stall on approving a permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the federal agency that regulates guns.
"And the industry that produces these (violent video) games is refusing to pay for a study of the long-term impact of those" games.
Separately, Malloy said in an interview that he spent "an hour and 15 minutes" Friday evening with Vice President Joe Biden to review the administration's push for more gun restrictions.
He said gun manufacturers "are afraid to step out in front" in the gun controversy because "they are fearful of a boycott, that they would be punished in the marketplace" for supporting any gun restrictions.
Malloy scoffed at speculation that he had talked with Biden about a possible post in the Obama administration.
"I like my job," he said. "I have no interest in moving to Washington - or to Rome or Paris or Ireland."
He praised Biden for doing "an exceptional job" in reaching out to the Newtown community, though he noted that the families of some victims don't want their private grieving to be interrupted.
He noted that Biden had lost his wife and 1-year-old daughter in a traffic accident in 1972, a tragedy that he said nourished Biden's "great personal empathy."
Malloy said he was planning to attend a reception at the vice president's official mansion and be in the audience on Monday when President Obama is inaugurated for a second term.


RR #2

MORE  ON THE GUN VIOLENCE ISSUE.
A good exposition of the state of the Union on this issue...and further evidence of need for the two Constitutional Amendments that I have been espousing for years.
BUT WHERE IS THE DISCUSSION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH?

GS

Article published Jan 20, 2013 in The Day
Obama has altered the gun discussion

A week ago we wrote in expectation of what gun reforms President Obama would propose after receiving the task force report from Vice President Biden. To his credit, the president did not disappoint. In the wake of the massacre at the Newtown Elementary School, where a mentally ill gunman used a semiautomatic assault rifle outfitted with a large capacity bullet magazine to murder 20 children and six educators, President Obama has successfully altered the discussion about firearms.

This in and of itself was no easy achievement. Elected leaders have long seen as politically too dangerous proposing federal policies that would control the distribution of guns in this country and ban military-style weapons capable of rapid killing. The powerful gun advocacy group, the National Rifle Association, pads the campaign coffers of many a politician. Republicans who would dare consider any restrictions on access to guns invite primary challenges, while Democrats in rural districts well know that Republican opponents stand ready to exploit any hint of softness on Second Amendment issues. And if any politician should forget their vulnerability, the NRA will be happy to remind them.

But having won a second term, and sensing that public disgust and outrage over what happened here in Connecticut has changed the political dynamics, President Obama uncharacteristically eschewed caution and moved quickly to push gun reform.

The president will almost certainly not obtain all the objectives he outlined last Wednesday, at least not in the short term. The NRA is too powerful and the gun culture so ingrained in American traditions that major change will not come quickly. But some reform can happen and, over the longer haul, perhaps significant reform.

Congressional approval of President Obama's proposal to expand and improve background checks before an individual can obtain a firearm appears obtainable. Surveys show a majority of the public supporting thorough and universal background checks to try to prevent unstable individuals and former criminals from getting access to weapons. The NRA, after all, often refers to protecting the right of "law-abiding citizens" to own guns.

Yet the NRA has in the past stood in the way of closing massive loopholes in the current background check policies. About 40 percent of gun sales, done by private sellers and often at gun shows, now require no background checks. Anyone seeking to purchase a gun should have to undergo a meticulous background check using comprehensive federal and state databases and improved access to mental health records.

Congress may also be ready to approve a ban on the possession or transfer of armor-piercing bullets. Why should anyone but soldiers in combat possess those?

Consensus may be obtainable, as well, on the president's proposal to more aggressively crackdown on and severely punish those who use their successful background checks to obtain and transfer weapons.

Finally, we can see no reason Senate Republicans can justify continuing to block confirmation of a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Until 2006 the president had the authority to install a director, but under pressure from the NRA, Congress changed the law to require Senate approval. And because of NRA distrust of the ATF, the Senate has approved no nominee since, with five acting directors since that time. The ATF, critical to enforcing gun regulations, is in need of a permanent leader.

As sensible as they are, President Obama's call to renew and tighten the ban on semiautomatic assault weapons that expired in 2004, and his request to prohibit the sale of magazines that allow the firing of more than 10 bullets without reloading, are unlikely to win approval, or even get to a vote.

But if that is the outcome, so be it. At least now we have a debate. And the next time such a weapon outfitted with a 30- or 100-round magazine is used to mow down innocents, and we all know it will happen, the demand for change will grow louder.


SATURDAY, January 19, 2013

RR #1

ARE THERE ANY MODERATE MUSLIMS IN THE WORLD?

Or is that an oxymoron?  As I have been expressing for a long time, the only way the world will avoid WW lll between the Muslim world and the rest of the world is if moderate Muslims bring the radical fundamentalist crazies to heel.  And that may require a Civil War on a global scale within Islam.  "IS ANYBODY THERE?  DOES ANYBODY CARE?"  Or are "moderate Muslims" really closet fundamentalists enjoying the carnage going on through the world at the hands of their terrorists? 
A warning: America is now led by a combination of appeasers and individuals who have not figured out how to address the terrorist problem in exotic places far away.  But just let another episode like 9/11 or worse occur - anywhere in the Western world - and all that will change explosively. 

Meanwhile, let us recognize that Sharia Law is the product of political / secular Islam and is in no way related to the Religion of Islam.  As such, it must have No Standing or role in American jurisprudence.  The tenets of Sharia Law are totally incompatible with our American Constitution.  And they have no claim to protection under our Freedom of Religion.  All Americans: PLEASE TAKE NOTE!

GS


RR #2

GUN VIOLENCE...AND OUR TIMID "LEADERS".

Shortly after the tragedy at Newtown, Ct., I offered my views on what needed to be done in this section.  I also predicted a lack of leadership regarding one of the most important issues that must be addressed: how we deal with mental health and illness.
No surprise.  Great emphasis on guns...and great circumspection regarding mental health - except generically to throw more money at it. 
Well, more courageous leaders are speaking out.  See two articles that appeared recently in the WSJ Saturday,Sunday, Jan. 12-13, 2013:

Of course, there are other actions that must be taken, like universal background checks for all gun and ammunition purchases, and restricting the private availability of "assault weapons" to "A well regulated Militia..."  Meanwhile, the NRA is doing its members and the problem no good by their obstructive attitude of "Just Say 'No'".  Let's see whether our President will be suitably presidential in his actual proposals to Congress, which is the proper approach to this challenge, instead of promulgating executive decrees.

GS


RR #3

ANOTHER SHOE FALLING FROM THIS CENTIPEDE CALLED "OBAMACARE". 

Once again, with feeling: ObamaCare is financially unsustainable. Furthermore, it will severely and perhaps mortally affect the private insurance market, on which we all depend for our health care insurance coverage...and for our health.  See two articles in the January 14, 2013 edition of the WSJ. 

And rest assured: there will be more of these factual expositions.  The next three or four years will be years of turmoil for the Health Care Industry, for its "providers" and for their patients.  If we all survive that, then the law of supply and demand - and common sense - will once again prevail..............

GS


TUESDAY through FRIDAY, January 15 through 18, 2013

What we vitally need: constitutional amendments regarding Federal term limits; regarding election financing; and regarding the Electoral College. Let's start a grass-roots movement. Only that can give this a chance of happening.

GS

Throw the bums out: 75 percent back Congress term limits
By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – Fri, Jan 18, 2013

Sure, voters sent a majority of incumbent members of Congress back to Washington in November 2012. But a new Gallup poll finds that 75 percent of Americans support imposing term limits on lawmakers in D.C.
 
Twenty-one percent would vote against a law limiting the number of terms representatives and senators can serve.
 
It’s maybe no surprise at a time when Congress is less popular than, oh, say, colonoscopies. But Gallup writes that its findings recall similar polls from 1994 and 1996, when between two-thirds and three-quarters of respondents said they favored a constitutional amendment setting term limits.
 
Past opinion polls have also found that Americans generally have a good opinion of their representative—and a bad one of other lawmakers.
 
What about the Electoral College? Do away with it, 63 percent of Americans say, according to Gallup. That’s down from 80 percent in 1968.
 
The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.


MONDAY, January 14, 2013

RR #1

Periodically, I simply refer the reader to articles that elucidate well problems facing all of us.
This is one of  those times.

a) "Shared Decision Making to Improve Care and Reduce Costs".
b) "Religious Freedom and Women's Health - The Litigation on Contraception".

c) "The Bystander Effect in Medical Care".  

These are worth your time and attention. 

And now for a BONUS: A MOVIE RECOMMENDATION, always my toughest job, given the usually execrable selections offered in any given week.  

                                          " PROMISED LAND"  

GS

RR #2

BETWEEN BARACK AND A HARD  PLACE.

In my offering in this section dated Jan. 2-5, 2013, I shared my disappointment with the recent public attitude and snide comments of the only President we have. 
Now comes a stinging article by Frank Bruni in the NYTimes Sunday, Jan 13, 2013 entitled "Democrats Behaving Badly" (Sunday Review p3). In it he criticizes Obama...and savages that aging bantam pugilist, Harry Reid.  Right on target, regarding them and also regarding the Republican Party at this time.  A good read...especially since the author agrees with me.

GS


SUNDAY
, January 13, 2013

GOOD ADVICE, WITH ONE ADDITION: DON'T USE ENTERIC COATED ASPIRIN.

ALSO, THE FOLLOWING DESERVES EMPHASIS: BE AWARE THAT YOU MAY HAVE OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA.  LOOK IT UP.  AND CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR.  THIS IS AFFECTING PEOPLE IN EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS, IS EASY TO DIAGNOSE AND TREAT...AND CAN BE FATAL IF MISSED.

GS

Mayo Clinic Aspirin
Dr. Virend Somers, is a Cardiologist from the Mayo Clinic,
who is lead author of the report in the July 29, 2008 issue of
the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Most heart attacks occur in the day, generally
between 6 A.M. and noon. Having one during the night, when
the heart should be most at rest, means
that something unusual happened. Somers and his colleagues
have been working for a decade to show that sleep apnea is
to blame.

1. If you take an aspirin or a baby aspirin once a day,
take it at night.
The reason: Aspirin has a 24-hour "half-life";
therefore, if most heart attacks happen in the
wee hours of the morning, the
Aspirin would be strongest in your system.

2. FYI,

Aspirin lasts a really long time in your medicine chest
for years, (when it gets old, it smells like vinegar).

Please read on.

Something that we can do to help ourselves - nice to know.
Bayer is making crystal aspirin to dissolve instantly on the tongue.
They work much faster than the tablets.

Why keep Aspirin by your bedside? It's about Heart Attacks -

There are other symptoms of a heart attack, besides the
pain on the left arm. One must also be aware of an intense
pain on the chin, as well as nausea and lots of sweating;
however, these symptoms may also occur less frequently.

Note: There may be NO pain in the chest during a heart attack.

The majority of people (about 60%) who had
a heart attack during their sleep did not wake up.
However, if it occurs, the chest pain may wake you up from
your deep sleep.

If that happens, immediately dissolve two aspirins in your mouth
and swallow them with a bit of water.

Afterwards:
- Call 911.
- Phone a neighbor or a family member who lives very close by.
- Say "heart attack!"
- Say that you have taken 2 Aspirins.
- Take a seat on a chair or sofa
near the front door, and wait for their arrival and

...DO NOT LIE DOWN!


SATURDAY, January 12, 2013

RR #1

Yup.  You betcha.

GS

Check out this poem from 1949!




RR #2

YES, I KNOW: YOU'VE HEARD THIS ADVICE BEFORE.

But the current column by Charles Krauthammer, is in my opinion MUST READING. 
"What The Selection Of Chuck Hagel Means", in The Day Saturday 12, 2013, pA6.

If our daily increasing national debt and the possibility of "default" by this nation (unconstitutional), are rightly considered very serious, the prospective changes in our national defense posture and our role in the world would be downright subversive.  And Russia, the Taliban, Iran, Hamas, China, fundamentalist Islamic terrorists throughout the world...and even our  allies... would..get the message and act accordingly.   Dangerous!

GS


FRIDAY, January 11, 2013

RR #1

TIME FOR AN UPDATE FOR MY SECTION ENTITLED "PUBLIC EDUCATION POLITICS": Subtitle: EXECRABLE.
See the editorial in the WSJ Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, pA16, entitled: "Where Failure Is A Virtue".   
To repeat: If physicians during the last 40 years practiced Medicine the way "educators" practiced "education", we would be in jail.

GS

RR #2

WHAT  SADNESS
AND THE OTHER CASUALTY CONTINUES TO BE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, VICTIMS OF A TOXIC AFTERMATH EQUAL TO THAT OF THE CIVIL WAR. 
AS MY TOO GENEROUS WIFE / PAL WOULD SAY: "MAY THOSE WHO WERE OUR NATION'S LEADERS DURING THAT TIME HAVE A PERMANENT CASE OF JOCK-ITCH - WHEREVER THEY ARE".

GS

The Vietnam Wall (Something you may not have known)

 I think the Vietnam Memorial Wall is something this country got right. Read on . . .

 A little history most people will never know.
Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Vietnam Memorial Wall

There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those
added in 2010.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date
and within each date the names are alphabetized.
 
It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties.

The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass.
Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956.
His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl.
Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.

39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.

8,283 were just 19 years old.

The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old.
 
12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.

5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.

One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.

997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam..

1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam..

31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.

Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.

54  soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia .
 
8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded.

244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of
them are on the Wall.

Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.

West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are
711 West Virginians on the Wall.

The Marines of Morenci - They led some of the scrappiest high school football
and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop.
5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter
moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache
National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci's mining
families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine
Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.

The Buddies of Midvale - LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all
boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on
Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They
played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam .
In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was
killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's
assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day.
Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.

The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 - 2,415 casualties were incurred.

For most Americans who read this they will only see the numbers that the
Vietnam War created. To those of us who survived the war, and to the families
of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers
created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because
they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters.
 
There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.

RR #3

Perhaps this "Peculiar Institution" will not also require a Civil War and another 100 years to be dissolved.

GS


==================================================
ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
News Agency
==================================================

Poll: Huge Majority of Americans Want Abortion Restrictions

83% Favor Limits; Number Up From Last Year

After 40 years of legalized abortion in the United States, a huge majority of Americans (83%) favor restricting abortion to specific circumstances.

A Knights of Columbus-Marist poll conducted last month shows that the number of Americans favoring restrictions to abortion has increased four percentage points in the last year (79% to 83%).

Of the 83% who support significant restrictions on abortion, 10% believe abortion should never be permitted; 12% believe abortion should be allowed only to save the life of the mother; 34% would restrict abortion only to cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother; and 27% would limit abortion to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy.

Just 11% would allow abortion at any time, while 6% would allow it during the first six months of pregnancy.

“After four decades of legalized abortion in this country, Americans have had ample time to understand that abortion has terrible consequences, said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “They understand abortion’s true legacy – a child loses life, and parents lose a child. And after witnessing the effects of abortion for the past 40 years, Americans are not legally or morally comfortable with that legacy. It is time for our country to chart a new course on this issue – a course that protects both the mother and the child.”

The survey also found that nearly six in 10 Americans (58%) believe abortion is “morally wrong.” And 84% of Americans say laws can protect both mothers and unborn children.

The newly released survey is the latest in a series of polls commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and conducted by The Marist Institute for Public Opinion. This KofC-Marist Poll data was gathered via a telephone survey of 1,246 adults residing in the continental United States and has a margin of error of ±2.8 percentage points. Data were collected Dec.4-6, 2012.


THURSDAY, January 10, 2013

See my Rapid Response offering dated December 31, 2013 for more insight in this matter.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.

GS

What People Who Live to 100 Have in Common

 By Emily Brandon
 Fri, Jan 11, 2013

A growing number of Americans are living to age 100. Nationwide, the centenarian population has grown 65.8 percent over the past three decades, from 32,194 people who were age 100 or older in 1980 to 53,364 centenarians in 2010, according to new Census Bureau data. In contrast, the total population has increased 36.3 percent over the same time period.

Centenarians in the United States are considerably different from the overall population. Here's a look at some of the characteristics of people who live to age 100:

Female Gender

It is overwhelmingly women who live to age 100. In 2010, 82.8 percent of centenarians were female. For every 100 females age 100 or older, there are only 20.7 males the same age. Females also make up 61.9 percent of those in their 80s and 72.2 percent of people in their 90s. "We know that women are more social than men. Other studies have found that staying socially connected predicts greater life expectancy," says Gary Small, a professor on aging and director of the UCLA Longevity Center in Los Angeles, who is not affiliated with the Census Bureau report. "If you are social, it may reduce stress levels because you can talk about your feelings and things that stress you out and it seems to help many people. If you need a ride to the doctor or you fall, they can take you to the hospital or help you find the best doctor."

10 Surprising Clues You'll Live to 100

Less Diversity

Centenarians are considerably less diverse than the overall U.S. population. In 2010, some 82.5 percent of centenarians were white, versus 72.4 percent of the total population. Black or African Americans were unique in that their proportion of the centenarian population (12.2 percent) is about the same as their percentage of the total population (12.6 percent). Asians made up 2.5 percent of the centenarian population, while they make up 4.8 percent of the total population. And Hispanics represent 5.8 percent of centenarians, but 16.3 percent of the population.

Living with Others

Just over a third of both female and male centenarians lived alone in their own home in 2010, but the majority of the oldest citizens live with others. "As people get older, things in life happen—like you might become a widow or you might have a disability, and because of those circumstances, living arrangements often change," says Amy Symens Smith, chief of the age and special populations branch at the Census Bureau. Centenarian females (35.2 percent) were more likely to live in a nursing home than males the same age (18.2 percent). Centenarian males are the most likely to be living with others in a household (43.5 percent), compared to just 28.5 percent of centenarian females.

City Living

A large majority of the oldest U.S. citizens live in urban areas. "As age increases, the percentage living in urban areas also increases," says Smith. Some 85.7 percent of centenarians lived in urban areas in 2010, compared with 84.2 percent of those in their 90s, 81.5 percent of those in their 80s, and 76.6 percent of those in their 70s. "Living in the city, you have a lot more mental stimulation and the symphony and better doctors and hospitals and more social networking," says Small. "There are more resources, and there is better transportation."

Secrets of Longevity

Located in the Northeast or Midwest

States with the largest populations generally have the most centenarians. California has the largest number of centenarians (5,921), followed by New York (4,605), Florida (4,090), and Texas (2,917). Alaska has the fewest residents age 100 and older (40). Wyoming (72), Vermont (133), and Delaware (146) are also among the states with the fewest centenarians.

The Northeast and Midwest have proportions of centenarians that are higher than the national average of 1.73 per 10,000 people, while the West and South have below-average proportions of centenarians. "There's a lot of stuff going on in local areas, including access to medical care, diet, exercise, the culture, risk-taking, and more smoking," says Linda Waite, a sociology professor and director of the Center on Aging at the University of Chicago. "People in the Northeast tend to be more highly educated, and education is associated with a longer life expectancy." North Dakota is the only state with more than 3 centenarians for every 10,000 people in the state. Other states where centenarians make up a relatively large portion of the population include South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. Three western states have less than one centenarian for every 10,000 people: Alaska, Utah, and Nevada.

The proportion of centenarians in the United States is smaller than that of many other developed countries. For example, for every 10,000 people, there are 1.92 centenarians in Sweden, 1.95 in the United Kingdom, and 2.70 in France. And Japan has 3.43 centenarians per 10,000 people, beating even our longest-lived state, North Dakota.


WEDNESDAY, January 9, 2013

WATCH OUT! 
This is only the beginning for financially untenable ObamaCare and for its naive State disciples.

GS

Article published Jan 8, 2013 in The Day
Hospitals bracing for loss of millions in state funding
By Judy Benson Day Staff Writer
L&M, Backus say impact will be big
Reductions in hospital services, staffing and new programs are all possibilities in the weeks ahead as Lawrence & Memorial Hospital and The William W. Backus Hospital figure out how to cope with sudden multi-million-dollar reductions in expected state revenue.
"A cut of this magnitude is going to have a major impact on our ability to serve as the region's safety net and reinvest in programs and services for the community," said Backus spokesman Shawn Mawhiney, referring to a $3.8 million cut in state revenues to the Norwich hospital.
In New London, L&M is facing a $2.8 million loss of expected state revenue, funds it had included in the budget for its current fiscal year. Both Backus and L&M will have to absorb the cuts by June 30, the close of the current state fiscal year.
"The potential here is devastating," said Mike O'Farrell, spokesman for L&M, which in November averted a potential budget crisis with cost-cutting moves and layoffs of 22 employees to close a $3.2 million budget gap. "We can't absorb this without having services or people affected. Everything's on the table."
As part of a state budget deficit reduction measure, the state legislature on Dec. 19 approved $103.7 million in cuts to payments to the state's 30 hospitals. The funds were reimbursements for care the nonprofit hospitals are required to provide to uninsured and underinsured patients, as well as to partially compensate for the difference between the amount reimbursed by Medicaid and the actual cost of care for Medicaid recipients. The cut to hospitals was the largest portion of $252.3 million in budget reductions lawmakers approved to close a state budget gap. A previous set of cuts announced by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in November reduced state spending by an additional $170 million.
"We're somewhat stunned," said Stephen Frayne, senior vice president of the Connecticut Hospital Association. "This is an enormous sum of money. It's 10 percent of all the funding we get from the state."
Hospitals, he said, "will continue to take care of everybody that comes through the door," but will have to take some painful steps to keep their budgets sound.
"The hospitals are going to do what they need to do to try to maintain fiscal health by modifying services and eliminating positions," he said. "They have an obligation to maintain financial stability."
While hospitals figure out how to deal with the revenue cut, the hospital association will lobby lawmakers and Malloy's office to reduce or rescind the cut once the legislature convenes this week, Frayne said.
In approving the cut to hospitals, lawmakers argued that the loss would be offset by an increase in Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals that occurred after a change in the state program for low-income adults in 2010.
Despite the higher reimbursement, there is still a gap between Medicaid reimbursement rates and the actual cost of care, O'Farrell said.
"Every time we see a Medicaid patient, we're losing money, and we're seeing more and more," he said, adding that since 2008, the percentage of L&M patients covered by Medicaid has increased from about 13 percent to about 17 percent.
O'Farrell said L&M continues to move forward with its major projects including the new Dana-Farber cancer center under construction in Waterford and the pending purchase of The Westerly Hospital. The $34.5 million cancer center is being funded with donations raised specifically for that project, and the $69 million Westerly Hospital purchase will be funded by loans and managed under a different financial structure from the operating budget for L&M, he said.
"Those investments have the ability to strengthen us long term," O'Farrell said.
The state hospital association's Frayne said he believes hospitals are being asked to bear an unfairly high proportion of the deficit reduction package - about 30 percent - when state funding to hospitals only constitutes 5 percent of the entire state budget. He added that the cut seems particularly unfair in light of the $380 million in new revenues to the state generated by a tax on hospital patients enacted 18 months ago. A tax of 3.8 percent is added to bills for outpatients bills and 5.5 percent on inpatient bills.


TUESDAY, January 8, 2013

Republican Party seems as divided, angry as ever

By By STEVE PEOPLES | Associated Press – Sat, Jan 5, 2013

BOSTON (AP) — The Republican Party seems as divided and angry as ever.

Infighting has penetrated the highest levels of the House GOP leadership. Long-standing geographic tensions have increased, pitting endangered Northeastern Republicans against their colleagues from other parts of the country. Enraged tea party leaders are threatening to knock off dozens of Republicans who supported a measure that raised taxes on the nation's highest earners.

"People are mad as hell. I'm right there with them," Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, said late last week, declaring that she has "no confidence" in the party her members typically support. Her remarks came after GOP lawmakers agreed to higher taxes but no broad spending cuts as part of a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff."

"Anybody that voted 'yes' in the House should be concerned" about primary challenges in 2014, she said.

At the same time, one of the GOP's most popular voices, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, blasted his party's "toxic internal politics" after House Republicans initially declined to approve disaster relief for victims of Superstorm Sandy. He said it was "disgusting to watch" their actions and he faulted the GOP's most powerful elected official, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

The GOP's internal struggles to figure out what it wants to be were painfully exposed after Mitt Romney's loss to President Barack Obama on Nov. 6, but they have exploded in recent days. The fallout could extend well beyond the party's ability to win policy battles on Capitol Hill. It could hamper Republicans as they examine how to regroup and attract new voters after a disheartening election season.

To a greater degree than the Democrats, the Republican Party has struggled with internal divisions for the past few years. But these latest clashes have seemed especially public and vicious.

"It's disappointing to see infighting in the party," said Ryan Williams, a Republican operative and former Romney aide. "It doesn't make us look like we're in a position to challenge the president and hold him accountable to the promises he made."

What's largely causing the dissension? A lack of a clear GOP leader with a single vision for the party.

Republicans haven't had a consistent standard-bearer since President George W. Bush left office in 2008 with the nation on the edge of a financial collapse. His departure, along with widespread economic concerns, gave rise to a tea party movement that infused the GOP's conservative base with energy. The tea party is credited with broad Republican gains in the 2010 congressional elections, but it's also blamed for the rising tension between the pragmatic and ideological wings of the party — discord that festers still.

It was much the same for Democrats in the late 1980s before Bill Clinton emerged to win the White House and shift his party to the political center.

2012 presidential nominee Romney never fully captured the hearts of his party's most passionate voters. But his tenure atop the party was short-lived; since Election Day, he's disappeared from the political world.

Those Republican leaders who remain engaged — Christie, Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus — are showing little sign of coming together.

Those on the GOP's deep bench of potential 2016 presidential contenders, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have begun staking out their own, sometimes conflicting ideas for the party.

Over the short term at least, the party's divisions probably will continue to be exposed.

Obama has outlined a second-term agenda focused on immigration and gun control; those are issues that would test Republican solidarity even in good times. Deep splits already exist between Republican pragmatists and the conservative base, who oppose any restrictions on guns or allowances for illegal immigrants.

It's unclear whether Obama can exploit the GOP fissures or whether the Republican dysfunction will hamper him. With Boehner unable to control his fractured caucus, the White House is left wondering how to deal with the House on any divisive issue.

Fiscal issues aren't going away, with lawmakers were agree on a broad deficit-reduction package. The federal government reached its borrowing limit last week, so Congress has about two months or three months to raise the debt ceiling or risk a default on federal debt. Massive defense and domestic spending cuts are set to take effect in late February. By late March, the current spending plan will end, raising the possibility of a government shutdown.

Frustrated conservative activists and GOP insiders hope that the continued focus on fiscal matters will help unite the factions as the party pushes for deep spending cuts. That fight also may highlight Democratic divisions because the party's liberal wing vehemently opposes any changes to Social Security or Medicare

"Whenever you lose the White House, the party's going to have ups and downs," said Republican strategist Ron Kaufman. "My guess is when the spending issues come up again, the Democrats' warts will start to show as well."

The GOP's fissures go beyond positions on issues. They also are geographical.

Once a strong voice in the party, moderate Republicans across the Northeast are nearly extinct. Many of those who remain were frustrated in recent days when Boehner temporarily blocked a vote on a disaster relief bill.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said campaign donors in the Northeast who give the GOP after the slight "should have their head examined."

Boehner, who just won a second term as speaker, quickly scheduled a vote on a narrower measure for Friday after the new Congress convened, and it rushed out a $9.7 billion measure to help pay flood insurance claims.

Weary Republican strategists are trying to be hopeful about the GOP's path ahead, and liken the current situation to party's struggles after Obama's 2008 election. At the time, some pundits questioned the viability of the Republican Party. But it came roaring back two years later, thanks largely to the tea party.

"If we have learned anything from the fiscal cliff fiasco, conservatives discovered we need to stand firm, and stand together, on our principles from beginning to end," said Republican strategist Alice Stewart. "It's frustrating to see the GOP drop the ball and turn a position of true compromise into total surrender. The Democrats succeeded in their strategy of divide and conquer."

___

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas and Ben Feller in Washington contributed to this report.


MONDAY, January 7, 2013

NEITHER WHAT'S RIGHT NOR WHAT'S WRONG...BUT PERHAPS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR EVANGELIZATION.

Perhaps I have been too dismissive when calling Atheists "certifiable" or "crazy", with only partial tongue-in-cheek.   Published in the NYTimes Sunday, Jan 6, SRp7, is a long article written by self-proclaimed atheist Susan Jacoby entitled The Blessings of Atheism".  Offered consciously or otherwise as an "APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA",  it seems to base at least some atheists' position on a disappointment with...and even anger toward...a supposed God who allows such terrible things to beset good people.  And it rejects the "free will" argument that believing persons usually use to explain this matter. 
In this piece, well worth reading in its entirety, Ms. Jacoby makes two important points regarding the value of atheism: 1) "We do want our fellow citizens to respect our deeply held conviction that the absence of an afterlife lends a greater, not a lesser, moral importance to our actions on earth"; 2) regarding terrible events like Newtown, "Whether you are religious or non-religious, may you find solace in the knowledge that the suffering is ours, but that those we love suffer no more."
Not conclusive regarding whether there is a God and an after-life - which is of course
a gift of Faith.   But impressive.

GS


SUNDAY, January 6, 2013

...and that's why physicians and the other health care professions have a bright future - after surviving the decline and fall of ObamaCare in the nest few years.

GS

Article published Jan 6, 2013 in The Day
Will retiring baby boomers bring an economic bust?
By FRANCO ORDONEZ and CASEY CONLEY McClatchy Newspapers
Many see burgeoning market rather than burdensome generation
Washington - With millions of baby boomers reaching retirement age, fears are mounting of the economic impact if they follow the pattern of previous generations by curbing spending and draining Social Security and Medicare benefits.
But the 78 million boomers - born from 1946 to 1964 - have always broken the mold in terms of setting trends, and some investors and business and community leaders see their retirement as no different. They see an unprecedented, multi-billion-dollar opportunity to offer new products and services to an active demographic group that's expected to live longer than previous generations.
When Elizabeth Reighard started her fitness training business in Myrtle Beach, S.C., four years ago, most of her students were in their mid-30s. But now her client list is made up mainly of boomers, such as Mary Smith, 58, who hired Reighard to help her "keep up with the grandkids."
The demand for fitness trainers such as Reighard is expected to jump 24 percent in the next decade, largely because of baby boomers who want to stay healthy longer, according to the Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook released in March.
"I'm seeing it more and more. Seniors know they have to be in better shape to have less aches and pains," said Reighard, who's also a boomer. "Yeah, we're getting older, but our bodies feel good. I look in the mirror and I might look 51, but I feel 25."
The Census Bureau projects that Americans 65 and older will make up 19 percent of the population by 2030.
On the labor front, the health care industry is the most obvious benefactor of a longer-living active community. Demand for home health aides is expected to grow 70 percent in the next decade, according to the Department of Labor.
Demand also will be high in less obvious fields, such as for architects, who will be called on to build senior-friendly communities; financial advisers to help boomers plan their retirements; recreation workers, who will lead boomer-tailored excursions; and job trainers, who will teach the new workers called on to replace retirees.
"It's only in Washington that 100 million people are viewed as an unaffordable cost and financial burden," said Jody Holtzman, a senior vice president at AARP. "In the private sector, 100 million people are called a market and an opportunity."
Boomers are expected to work longer and they've never followed in the footsteps of previous generations, said Matt Thornhill, an author of "Boomer Consumer," a book that examines marketing to the baby boomer generation.
Boomers have broken the mold during each stage of their lives, Thornhill said. When they were hungry babies and busy parents needed practical ways to feed them, Gerber put strained peas in a jar and became a billion-dollar company. The parents of boomers moved their families out to the suburbs and bought fancy homes stocked with modern appliances. Much of it was paid for with credit cards, which previously didn't exist.
"We became the generation of consumption and personal gratification," Thornhill said. "Boomers are not going to spend at all like the prior generations did at 65. They're going to spend at boomer levels. And there's millions more of them."
Jeet Singh, who helped develop e-commerce software used by online retailers such as Best Buy and J. Crew, said retirees hadn't been treated with respect in terms of offering them well-designed high-quality products that meet their needs without announcing their ages.
"You just can't fight the numbers," said Singh, a co-founder of Redstar Ventures and previously Art Technology Group. "All these people are out there. They have needs. Whether it's what they eat, what they buy, where they shop, how they vacation. And I'm not even talking about health care, which is in itself a massive market."
Sam Farber created Oxo Good Grips in 1990 when he noticed that his wife had trouble holding kitchen tools because of arthritis, according to the company's history. Farber saw a business opportunity in creating more comfortable cooking tools. Oxo now makes more than 850 products that appeal across generations.
Holtzman of AARP likes to share that story when he's trying to inspire new entrepreneurs. He's met with hundreds of venture capitalists, encouraging them to ask one additional question when entrepreneurs approach them seeking startup money: "What's your 50-plus plan?"
"The one question a startup doesn't want to get from its board of directors is this one: 'Why did you leave money on the table by ignoring a market of 100 million people with $3.5 trillion to spend?'" he said.


WEDNESDAY through SATURDAY, January 2 through 5, 2013

WE SHOULD ALL HONOR THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES.

But in recent weeks, I have felt that that Presidency has been diminished by this President.  I actually felt a twinge of sadness as I heard and read Barack Obama's snide comments ridiculing his opposite numbers and Republicans in general during the  supposed "negotiations".  It was a strange feeling.

Now come two articles that articulate the reason.  This President is a "Me" person, a divider rather than a uniter.  My way, or the highway.  And, as noted in the Noonan offering:
"This, however, is true: The great presidents are always in the end uniters, not dividers.  They keep it together and keep it going.  And people remember them fondly for that."
See " There's No 'I' In 'Kumbaya'", by Peggy Noonan, WSJ Sat. - Sun., Jan 5-6, 2013, pA15.
See also: "The President Who Wants It All", by Fred Barnes, WSJ Thursday, Jan 3, 2013, pA13.

Whether in the rarefied atmosphere of Washington politics or in personal and business relationships, the frequently forgotten fact is: There is only Win-Win or Lose-Lose. 
There is no such thing as "Win-Lose".

GS


TUESDAY, January 1, 2013

THE REPUBLICANS INHERIT THE WIND.

Throughout the political campaigns of 2012, while a host of Republican wannabes were savaging each other, and also after Mitt Romney stumbled across the finish line,  I stated many times in this section that this election was the Republicans'  to lose - and that they were quite up to the task.  I also offered what they should be aiming for...instead of their scatter-gun approach against Latinos in general, "women", homosexuals, anyone who attacked the Wall Street Las Vegas strip-mining criminals, and anyone not sufficiently Fundamentalist in their religious beliefs. 

Well, they didn't do that.  And they lost.  Not that Republicans, in contrast to liberal Democratic crazies, don't have the better of the argument about how to treat  this country in its current critical illness.  But they simply failed to re-calibrate their sights for the heavy windage of a changed Society. 

And the recent Kabuki Dance offered by the House Republicans has been simply a reflection of these realities.  WAKE UP, Republicans.  You have the better field position in this battle.  But  you need troops: religious and family-oriented Latinos who should be natural Republicans;  rational women rather than immoral females, citizens who clearly see today's Wall Street as a den of thieves requiring a clean-out...and even homosexuals...after you bone up on relevant scientific research of the last two decades. 

The battle certainly continues and must be fought and won.  But now is the time for a strategic withdrawal, a re-organization and revised battle plan.  And then" ATTACK.  Or do none of these things and continue to be ridiculed by our President and by the likes of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. 
YOUR CHOICE.

GS




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