Monthly Archives: August, 2007

Why Can’t the People of Cranston Be Heard?

Cranston Citizens for Responsible Zoning and Development (CCRZD) is urging concerned residents to contact the DEM and insist that they reschedule the public hearing on the matter of the concrete plant. The DEM had promised to hold a hearing on this issue in July, but the hearing was never scheduled. Now, according the CCRZD, “On September 4th, the DEM will consider canceling the public hearing of Cullion/Karleetor Wetlands ‘Insignificant Alteration’ Permit.”

They provide the following sample text for the letter:

As a resident of Cranston, I urge you to revoke the above Permit, which was modified by Karleetor/Cullion (Concrete Batching Plant) located on Marine Drive. This area is designated by FEMA as a floodplain, is part of a significant wetlands, and will be adversely affected by the air, noise, soil, and water pollution that will surely result from this industrial development. I am strongly opposed to the Cullion proposal and amazed that you would even consider granting them a permit to build and operate a public health hazard in my residential neighborhood.

I am also concerned about attempts being made by Cullion/Karleetor’s attorneys to prevent a public hearing on the above-matter. DEM had already agreed to hold the Hearing, and it was scheduled in July but never happened ~ why? Why has it not been rescheduled?

Since this development will directly affect my neighbors and my family, I feel that we are entitled to be heard on this matter. I have always had confidence in the DEM and its unwavering commitment to protect Rhode Island’s wetlands and citizens from exposure to unsafe air, water and noise pollution, and I hope that you will be strong on September 4th and resist efforts to silence Cranston residents.

We are relying on you make the right decision on September 4, a decision that will profoundly affect future generations who will have to deal with this problem.

Letters should be addressed to:

W. Michael Sullivan, Ph.D., Director
Rhode Island DEM
235 Promenade Street
Providence, RI 02908-5767

FAX: (401) 222-6802

E-MAIL: Michael.sullivan@dem.ri.gov

Bush “Reluctantly” Accepts Gonzales’ Resignation

I am wondering how Senator Whitehouse is reacting to the news. His press office line is busy, but I imagine an email statement from the Senator, after all his effort on this issue, is on the way. From MSN:

WASHINGTON – Embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, under fire from congressional Democrats and even some Republicans, has resigned, senior Bush administration officials said Monday.

Gonzales spoke to President Bush by telephone on Friday and then visited him at his Crawford, Texas, ranch on Sunday where he formally submitted his letter of resignation, a senior administration official said.

“He (Bush) very reluctantly accepted it,� the official said.

UPDATE: As predicted, here is Whitehouse’s statement:

“It’s been clear for months that Alberto Gonzales’s resignation is in the best interest of the country. This is also good news for the Department of Justice, but a great deal of work remains to be done to restore Americans’ confidence in this great Department, to restore its traditions and spirit, and to restore its ability to fairly and dispassionately enforce the law. Fortunately, there are many people of both parties who know and love this Department who I’m sure would be glad to help.

“I hope that whoever the President nominates to be he new Attorney General at this critical time will put the interests of the Department, its employees, and the American people foremost – before partisanship, and before politics.�

Believe it or not, this article from CNN discusses the possibility of Michael Chertoff being nominated for the Attorney General position.

Advice to Disgraced Clergy: Get a Job

I once worked with an ex-priest. The Catholic church lost one of their best when this man left the priesthood for the secular life. I think he brings the gift of ministry to his work in social services. When he first left the priesthood he did a variety of jobs, including construction. Hey, even St. Paul was a tentmaker.

My church is pretty tough on ministers. One of them resigned and has a practice as a counselor. Another works in prevention of cruelty to animals. A lot of people come out of divinity school and don’t get a gig right away, or don’t click with their church and resign or even get fired. They might do other work for some time, or maybe minister in some other way. Being clergy doesn’t exempt you from having to pay your bills.

But I’m being of a worldly mind. In the Church of the Prosperity Gospel the ordained of the Lord won’t ever be found doing drudge work. Ted Haggard, who lost his megachurch ministry when he was outed by a male prostitute he hired, has a message for you– “send me money now.�

The former New Life Church pastor plans to seek a master’s degree in counseling at the University of Phoenix while his wife studies psychology, he said in an e-mail sent this week to KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs.

The couple and two of their sons planned to move Oct. 1 to the Phoenix Dream Center, a faith-based halfway house in Phoenix, where Haggard and his wife would provide counseling, the e-mail said.

“It looks as though it will take two years for us to have adequate earning power again, so we are looking for people who will help us monthly for two years,” the e-mail said. “During that time we will continue as full-time students, and then, when I graduate, we won’t need outside support any longer.”

You will notice the article says, ‘provide counseling’. Having a total disaster of a marriage gives the Haggards a special authority as counselors, but apparently Megachurch Divinity never gave Ted Haggard a real degree. You wouldn’t want him to have to sell his house or take out a student loan, would you? That’s for peasants.

And if you donate to Ted’s support fund, ‘Families with a Mission’, ten percent of the donation will go to a convicted sex offender who is administering the charity, according to Seattle’s newspaper, The Stranger. Haggard probably has a lot of friends who are forgiven. God forgave them, why can’t you?

I used to think that you had to kill a dog to lose your reputation, but even Michael Vick has his defenders, so I suppose someone will send money to Ted Haggard. We’re so used to preachers getting really good at soliciting money and building bigger and bigger churches that it seems normal. When one of them falls from grace, they keep doing the only thing they know how to do, selling salvation and begging for bucks.

I don’t know why so many people fall for the con that God needs their money. God is omnipotent. He gets everything for free. People need money. It’s okay to tell some of those people to get a job.

I don’t get this forgiveness thing, either. Forgiveness is a blessing, but it’s not the same as forgetting. If the guy really screwed up as a minister he probably needs to be doing something else. You can forgive an embezzler, but don’t give them a job in a bank. Ted Haggard is only one of a long procession of charismatic, flawed people who shouldn’t be a minister, or counselor, or anything else where they have power over people. These people should get a regular job and show every one they can lead an honest life. Maybe there’s a career opportunity in carpentry.

“An Environmental Success Story”

The following article from the Associated Press (via the Boston Globe) offers some hope that, amid the sea of bad news that daily laps at the shores of our lives, there remains the occasional island of good news:

Biologists endure isolation, noise and bird poop to aid puffins

EASTERN EGG ROCK, Maine –A puffin hops up onto a rock, notices another puffin standing on one leg nearby, and waddles to over to join him. The fact that the one-legged bird is a wooden decoy doesn’t seem to matter. Puffins love company.

Stephen Kress smiles as he watches from a blind about 20 yards away. The deception is one of the techniques he used to lure the colorful seabirds back to this rocky island.

“I used an old hunter’s trick, something that hadn’t been done with seabirds before,” whispers Kress, director of the National Audubon’s Seabird Restoration Program.

Puffins, seabirds that resemble halfpint penguins except that they can fly, were decimated in the late 1880s by hunters for their meat and feathers in Maine. By 1901, Maine had just one pair of puffins, on Matinicus Rock, researchers said.

Though plentiful elsewhere, Kress three decades ago set about bringing them back to Maine’s islands, on the southern end of their range.

In 1973, with backing from the National Audubon Society and help from the Canadian Wildlife Service, Kress began transplanting 2-week-old puffin chicks from Great Island off Newfoundland, 1,000 miles to the northeast. The first returning bird came in 1977. Four years later, the first breeding pair was spied on the island.

These days there are 90 nesting pairs on Eastern Egg. All told, there are more than 700 nesting pairs four Maine islands, Kress said.

With seemingly daily stories of global warming and vanishing species, the restoration of puffins in the Gulf of Maine represents an environmental success story. [full text]

ADDed Marketing, ADDed Prescribing

Here is an op-ed piece by Karin Klein in last week’s Los Angeles Times that takes the pharmaceutical industry to task for violating a United Nations treaty that is intended to restrict direct marketing of psychotropic medication:

Pencils, pens, meds

Back-to-school season is in full swing. Time to pick out a backpack, sneakers and a stimulant medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Nearly 2 million children in the United States are diagnosed with ADHD, which is marked by poor concentration, lack of self-control and/or hyperactivity. Besides time off from school, many kids with ADHD get a summer “vacation” from the prescription medications that help them focus in class.

So August has become a prime time to market the idea that a change in drug for the new school year (Concerta to Adderall?) might help the kids focus better, keep them going longer or have fewer side effects. Direct-to-parent marketing of ADHD drugs — most of which are stimulants — has grown pervasive over the last few years, despite a United Nations treaty banning most of it. Use of such medications increased by more than 60% from 2001 to 2005, according to the International Narcotics Control Board.

This month’s homemaker-targeted magazines, such as Family Circle, Woman’s Day and Redbook, feature advertising spreads for Vyvanse, Shire US Inc.’s new entry in the growing stable of ADHD medications. The ads show “Consistent Kevin through the day, even through homework,” picturing a well-groomed boy smiling as he wields his pencil through a work sheet, and “Consistent Sarah,” who even at 6 p.m. contentedly pecks away at the piano keys.

ADDitude magazine, published for people with ADHD, has ads for four medications. One ad touts a flavored, chewable form of methylphenidate with the slogan, “Give me the grape.” (Methylphenidate is best known under the trade name Ritalin, which is not among those drugs advertised.)

Ads for candy-flavored methylphenidate are a far cry from the vision set forth in 1971 by the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. So far, 159 countries, including the U.S., have agreed to ban consumer-targeted marketing of psychotropic medications — which all these ADHD drugs are — that carry the potential for addiction or dependency. For decades, pharmaceutical companies abided by its provisions.

But in 2001, one company began buying ads in the September issue of women’s magazines in the U.S. to draw attention to Metadate CD, a long-acting form of methylphenidate. Other companies quickly followed suit. [full text]

Bill Maher’s Summer Vacation

Soon, America’s children will be returning to school and sharing tales of what they did on their summer vacation. Bill Maher, ever acerbic and amusing, does the same in the following video:

[direct link]

Protest Police Brutality — March on Sunday

Matt Jerzyk’s post kind of says it all. I’ll just add that as a professional who is trained in therapeutic crisis intervention which includes training on how to restrain children (including adolescents who are often larger than me) and who has been involved in restraining individuals, it is so frightening to me to see that picture of the police and Ms. Svoboda’s twisted leg. I realize accidents happen when individuals are restrained, but there must have been excessive force to get her leg down twisted like that.

Is Poker the Answer?

Professor Nesson, of Harvard Law School, thinks he has found one answer to society’s problems: poker. From the Financial Times:

Harvard Law school thinks it has found the solution to many of society’s problems, from teenage delinquency to world diplomatic crises: a hand of poker.

The card game that is a game of skill to its advocates, and a potentially ruinous bet on chance to its detractors, is to be taught to disadvantaged US school children and college students to teach respect, business acumen and even war strategy.

Charles Nesson, a Harvard Law school professor, will next week unveil a plan to set up “global poker strategic thinking societies� at universities around the world, including Harvard, Yale and Oxford, when he attends a conference on virtual worlds and cyberspace in Singapore.

The societies will set up poker workshops at schools, sponsor university poker matches and develop an online poker curriculum for any institution that wishes to use it.

Prof Nesson, who once sold a computer programme he devised based on five-card draw, jacks-or-better – a variation of poker – for $50,000 (£25,000), said workshops had been arranged as an after-school activity for disadvantaged children in the Boston area and in Jamaica that involved real money, albeit very small stakes.

“Poker teaches people to think for themselves, it is a key component of individuality and a prime aspect of managing resources,� Prof Nesson said, admitting that some of these instincts for survival hardly encouraged notions of mutual trust.

Business dealmakers could learn from poker the art of avoiding making the first offer, he added, while teenage tearaways could take from it life skills such as patience, composure, respect for their foes and understanding someone else’s point of view. Law graduates would understand the law of evidence and diplomats could apply the art of bluffing to international relations.

As for personal finance and risk management, Prof Nesson said there was no better educational tool than poker to teach people how to make the most of their limited chips stack and “how to lose� or “to lose well�. [full text]

Losing at games is a social skill that we are always working on in adolescent residential care. And while video games have their appeal, cards are still a game of choice for teens, and give better practice at getting along with others than many video games. I’m going to be working 20 of the next 36 hours with many fiesty teenage boys. Maybe we will try poker.

Historical Illiteracy in the White House

Earlier this week, when President Bush gave a speech in which he advocated staying the course in Iraq and then offered comparisons to Vietnam and Japan to bolster his case, he demonstrated that his grasp of history is only exceeded by his grasp of the English language. Fortunately, a good many historians took pains to set the record straight.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Vietnam’s real lessons

FINDING IN THE DEBACLE of the Vietnam War a rationale for sustaining the U.S. military presence in Iraq requires considerable imagination. If nothing else, President Bush’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars earlier this week revealed a hitherto unsuspected capacity for creativity. Yet as an exercise in historical analysis, his remarks proved to be self-serving and selective.

For years, the Bush administration has rejected all comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam. Now the president cites Vietnam to bolster his insistence on “seeing the Iraqis through as they build their democracy.” To do otherwise, he says, will invite a recurrence of the events that followed the fall of Saigon, when “millions of innocent citizens” were murdered, imprisoned or forced to flee.

The president views the abandonment of our Southeast Asian allies as a disgrace, deploring the fate suffered by the “boat people” and the victims of the Khmer Rouge. According to Bush, withdrawing from Iraq constitutes a comparable act of abandonment. Beyond that, the president finds little connection between Vietnam and Iraq. This is unfortunate. For that earlier war offers lessons of immediate relevance to the predicament we face today. As the balance of the president’s VFW address makes clear, Bush remains oblivious to the history that actually matters. [full text]

From The Politico:

Historian: Bush use of quote ‘perverse’

A historian quoted by President Bush to help argue that critics of the administration’s Iraq policy echo those who questioned the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Japan after World War II angrily distanced himself from the president’s remarks Thursday.

“They [war supporters] keep on doing this,� said MIT professor John Dower. “They keep on hitting it and hitting it and hitting it and it’s always more and more implausible, strange and in a fantasy world. They’re desperately groping for a historical analogy, and their uses of history are really perverse.�

In a speech on Wednesday, Bush quoted “one historian� as suggesting that foreign policy experts – and, by implication, critics of Bush’s approach to Iraq – aren’t always right. “An interesting observation, one historian put it, ‘Had these erstwhile experts’ — he was talking about people criticizing the efforts to help Japan realize the blessings of a free society — he said, ‘Had these erstwhile experts had their way, the very notion of inducing a democratic revolution would have died of ridicule at an early stage.’ �

A search of Google books revealed that the “one historian� is Dower. The quote is from his book, “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II,� which won the National Book Award and the Bancroft Prize, among other awards, in 1999.

Dower was decidedly unhappy with his 15 minutes of fame. “I have always said as a historian that the use of Japan [in arguing for the likelihood of successfully bringing democracy to Iraq] is a misuse of history,� he said when notified of the Bush quote. [full text]

R.I.P. Grace Paley

Another literary figure has passed away, according to the Associated Press:

Writer and peace activist Grace Paley dies at 84

Poet and short story writer Grace Paley, a literary eminence and old-fashioned rebel who described herself as a “combative pacifist,” has died. She was 84.

Paley, who had battled breast cancer, died Wednesday at her home in Thetford Hill, Vt., according to her husband, playwright Robert Nichols.

A published writer since the 1950s, Paley released only a handful of books over the next half century, mostly short stories and poems. Writing was a passion, but not a compulsion: She never felt the need to put every experience into words. Her fiction, although highly praised, competed for time with work, activism, family and friends.

“None of it happened, and yet every word of it is true,” she once said of her fiction. “It’s truth embedded in the lie.” [full text]

Here is a poem of Ms. Paley’s that was published in the Winter 2000 issue of The Massachusetts Review:

Here

Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that’s who I wanted to be

at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
summer perspiration

that’s my old man across the yard
he’s talking to the meter reader
he’s telling him the world’s sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips.

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