Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Commissioners to back casino

Commissioners to back casino | | The Cincinnati Enquirer

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It was that long ago that having a casino was anathema to most Ohioans. Now with the continued loss of jobs combined with the brain-drain of college graduates, casinos are finding new allies in the Buckeye state. One of the biggest criticisms - that most of the casino jobs would go to workers from outside Ohio - doesn't have the steam it once did. If the 34,000 jobs claimed by developers is correct, that is 34,000 jobs that don't presently exist in Ohio. It doesn't matter who gets those jobs, those workers will become Ohio residents paying Ohio taxes. I'm not a gambler and doubt I will spend much time at a casino (I have yet to go to any of the casinos in SW Indiana). I wrote about safety and security concerns about a casino in Wilmington that may not have had a corresponding increase in fire, police and EMS. Depending on the location, the impact of first responders may remain a problem especially with some many departments experiencing layoffs. After reading another bloggers post about the casinos, I agree another problem with the casino issue won't be the casino itself as much as in the execution. Las Vegas has casinos combined with restaurants and show places. Even if you don't gamble, you can still enjoy Las Vegas. The Ohio casino can't be a stand alone location. Other non-gaming related venues have to be attracted to build adjacent to the casino. Branson, MO is successful not because of its location as much as its ability to attract a multitude of entertainment venues. Ohio should follow this model when building its casinos.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Merkel pledges speedy transition

BBC NEWS | Europe | Merkel pledges speedy transition

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Angela Merkel won re-election but now faces the daunting task of getting Germany out of its worst recession since WWII. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) is now out. Mrs. Merkel wants to cut taxes in hopes of stimulating jobs and the Germany economy. Germany seems to be posed to go after economic reform independent of the European Union. Perhaps this impression is wrong being based only on recent news items. However, Germany's economy has been slighted and outright destroyed by Europe before. The results ultimately set the stage for two world wars. While international attention focus on the war in Afghanistan and possible nuclear weapons in Iran, the urgency for Germany to reform its economy could lead to some radical reforms in Europe. The US view of WWII has it starting with Poland being invaded by Nazi Germany. There are Germans who hold a different view of an aggressive, ungrateful Poland expanding beyond their territory and endangering German trade routes. The latter view may resurface as Germany tries to claw its way out of recession.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What's on your mind?

One of my LinkedIn contacts wanted to start a dialog amongst her several hundred contacts and asked the following question: Tell me what's on your mind. What are your biggest challenges? What opportunities are you excited about? If there were no barriers (financial, time, etc) what do you aspire?

Here is my response:

What's on my mind is how increasingly rare it is for people to engage in polite discourse. It seems common place for people to remain entrenched in their position unwilling to consider the other person's point of view. I get a first hand view of this through interactions with my students. They feel quite justified in their beliefs which are based on the most tenuous of assumptions. Challenges to their belief system are met with absolute certainty of the others need for rehabilitation or incarceration.

I am also concerned that in our pursuit to produce perfect citizens out of secondary eduction that we are creating just the opposite. Local high school graduates seem to lack basic knowledge of civics and history. They lack inquisitive minds, critical thinking skills and basic social skills. Blue collar skills are de-emphasized under the banner that everyone needs to go to college. It may run contrary to popular education theory but I believe shop helps students develop critical thinking skills, problem solving skills and a stronger sense of accomplishment. Secondary education curriculums have had to cut civics and shop classes out to make time for teaching state proficiency exams. The result is a less sophisticated mind upon graduating from high school. Fewer minds capable of solving problems leads to a mediocre workforce in my mind and a decided lack of innovation.

The opportunities that excite me is trying to be part of the solution to this problem. I spend a great of time in my class getting my students to pay more attention to what is going on around them. They have to read newspapers or watch the news but even then I challenge them figure out what happened BEFORE the news reported the item. I get them to note any biases in reporting and how those biases may have shaped the content of the story. No, I don't teach a communications course or class on the media. It is my belief that regardless of the subject matter, a student needs to challenged with expanding their knowledge. I hope it inspires them to continue to read and learn and develop those critical thinking skills they need.

My aspirations if there were no barriers would be completely unrelated to the above. I would focus on music. I would master the piano and devote my time to composing and playing music. My professional journey emphasized the technical and analytical over the artistic. Being a capitalistic system, I found it more advantages to remain technical as it pays better than being an artist.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Terror arrest sparks gov't warning on mass transit

Terror arrest sparks gov't warning on mass transit

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Yesterday the FBI and DHS announced warnings for sporting events and luxury hotels. The report on indicated officials had no specific information about any particular attack. Such qualifiers are the stock and trade of intelligence analysts; to give a threat assessment based on an overwhelming number of indicators but no one single specific item that shows positively that an attack will occur. Unfortunately, it can easily become the case of the boy who cried wolf. Do it once, people will take precautions. Do it more than once, with no arrests or halted attacks, and people will tune the warnings out. The recent arrests may keep people more aware but just based on casual conversations with people at the college, I think they are more concerned about the weather for this week's football games.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Belatedly, Egypt Spots Flaws in Wiping Out Pigs

Belatedly, Egypt Spots Flaws in Wiping Out Pigs -

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The article points to the problem common with most government responses; they only address the immediate problem with little to no consideration for long-term effects. In this case, fear of swine flu causes ALL of the pigs to be slaughtered without regard as to why they have pigs in the first place. Similarly, US politicians are found of enacting grand, sweeping reforms without regard as to the original purpose of the legislation.

Barack Obama ready to slash US nuclear arsenal

Barack Obama ready to slash US nuclear arsenal |
World news |
The Guardian

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First, the President eliminates plans to deploy a missile shield in Poland. This move may or may not improve relations with Russia. Now the President is looking to slash the nuclear arsenal. In a truly egalitarian world filled with altruistic motives, this would lead others to destroy their nuclear stockpiles or stop their bid to create one. As most are not motivated by altruism, slashing an existing nuclear arsenal may be seen as a sign that the President lacks the willingness to use nuclear weapons. I've always thought nuclear weapons puts one in a no-win situation. If you use them first, you leave your adversary no choice but to retaliate in kind. If you retaliate with nuclear weapons, you are no better than the one who launched the attack. Given that, I still find it concerning that the President is telegraphing a more pacifist attitude given many world players that are angry over the Bush Administration policies. They may not be willing to differentiate between administrations and will look at President Obama's recent policy changes as a sign of weakness.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rep. Hoekstra: Obama's Missile Decision 'Catastrophic'

Rep. Hoekstra: Obama's Missile Decision 'Catastrophic'

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International politics is very much about gamesmanship. The Obama Administration feels the missile defense system as envisioned by the Bush Administration to be unworkable and destabilizing to relations with Russia. The Obama Administration envisions a different type of strategy that is not as threatening to Russia (some may even call this appeasement). The problem lies not in how the Obama administration choses to defend Europe but how the changes is viewed by the rest of the players in the dicey relationship between Europe and Russia. Instead of being seen for putting forward their own vision, the Obama administration will be seen as having blinked. If you blink you can be set off balance, if you can be set off balance others can gain the advantage. The Clinton Administration pushed Partners For Peace initiative which encouraged former Warsaw Pact nations to adopt democracy and the European Union. Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic did so. Romania, Serbia, several of the former republics of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia have tried to follow suite. These emerging democracies may see the change in strategy by the Obama administration as an abandonment of their goals and exposure to an ever more aggressive Russia.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18, 1947

The United States Air Force was created. In honor of that day, please enjoy the following USAF promotional video. It was made by a very small team of USAF technicians at Randolph AF, Texas.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Who watches the watchers?

Cameras keep track of all cars entering Medina | Seattle Times Newspaper

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A safe community is attractive to residents and businesses. Keeping crime at a low level means residents will be more likely to spend more time outside their homes spending money at local businesses. However, people won't feel safe if their individual liberties appear to be infringed. The cameras in Medina are being used to spot criminals by running license plates. The trend may spread as more municipalities are faced with laying off police officers due to budget cuts. Cameras don't require health care or pensions. But cameras can be programmed to look at more than just license plates, at least that's what many residents will fear. Cameras are fixed in place which means criminals will eventually either avoid those areas or figure out a way of destroying the cameras. Regardless, we need to be vigilant that as our technology becomes more prevalent in maintaining a safe community that we also don't see our individual liberties eroded.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Move Over Law

A friend was cited for violating the Move Over Law in another state. I wasn't certain if Ohio has a such a law. Indeed Ohio does and for those who may not know, I've posted it below. Here is the law which requires you to move over in the presence of a stationary emergency vehcile with its lights flashing.

4511.213 Approaching stationary public safety vehicle displaying emergency light.

(A) The driver of a motor vehicle, upon approaching a stationary public safety vehicle, an emergency vehicle, or a road service vehicle that is displaying the appropriate visual signals by means of flashing , oscillating, or rotating lights, as prescribed in section 4513.17 of the Revised Code, shall do either of the following:

(1) If the driver of the motor vehicle is traveling on a highway that consists of at least two lanes that carry traffic in the same direction of travel as that of the driver’s motor vehicle, the driver shall proceed with due caution and, if possible and with due regard to the road, weather, and traffic conditions, shall change lanes into a lane that is not adjacent to that of the stationary public safety vehicle, an emergency vehicle, or a road service vehicle.

(2) If the driver is not traveling on a highway of a type described in division (A)(1) of this section, or if the driver is traveling on a highway of that type but it is not possible to change lanes or if to do so would be unsafe, the driver shall proceed with due caution, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle, and maintain a safe speed for the road, weather, and traffic conditions.

(B) This section does not relieve the driver of a public safety vehicle, an emergency vehicle, or a road service vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons and property upon the highway.

(C) No person shall fail to drive a motor vehicle in compliance with division (A)(1) or (2) of this section when so required by division (A) of this section.

(D)(1) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(2) Notwithstanding section 2929.28 of the Revised Code, upon a finding that a person operated a motor vehicle in violation of division (C) of this section, the court, in addition to all other penalties provided by law, shall impose a fine of two times the usual amount imposed for the violation.

Effective Date: 01-01-2004; 2009 HB2 07-01-2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Public safety being hurt

Message: Public safety being hurt | | The Cincinnati Enquirer

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All of the squabbling and yet they are missing the most important thing; if people start thinking Cincinnati is becoming unsafe, businesses will leave. No new business and Cincinnati will not be able to experience an economic recovery. Fewer police and fewer firefighters will have an impact on the entire community. David Pepper had started discussing regional firefighting service as a way of overcoming budgetary shortfalls. This discussion needs to started anew to include regional police.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chavez Gets $2.2 Bln Russian Arms Credit Line

Breaking News, Politics, Commentary from around the world

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US foreign policy tends to focus East/West and rarely looks to the South. The US has ignored Central and South American partners in favor of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. There is a sense of being exploited in the the Southwestern Hemisphere by thanks in part to the legacy of the United States Fruit Company and Standard Oil. It should come as no surprise then that Russia is making in-roads with Hugo Chavez who feels threatened by the presence of American troops being stationed next door in Colombia. Secretary Clinton should spend time in Central and South America to help improve our perceptions down there. Unlike the Middle East or Asia, the United States is physically connected to South America. Threats based in those nations have a far easier time striking our nation.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight years ago

Eight years ago, I was at the state headquarters trying to make sense of what was happening. As a member of the military, we are taught to act when something happens. The problem was we didn’t know quite what was happening and didn’t know what to do. I had a meeting early that morning at a different base and remembering racing back to the headquarters. I got to my office around 9:00 AM and did not go home until almost 2:00 AM. I remember driving home and looking up at the night sky realizing for the first time in my life, the only lights in the sky were stars.

The events eight years ago changed so many things. Over the next six years (2001-2007), almost everyone I knew, myself included, would be deployed. Our training went from a “what if” to a right-now mentality. The number of sorties being flown drastically shortened the life cycle of our aircraft. National Guard and Reservists were being called up at levels not seen since WWII. HUMVEEs had to be up-armored in country to try to give soldiers and Marines some protection against roadside bombs (originally these were made from surplus ordnance but now are specifically manufactured to defeat our armor plate). The M-4 carbine replaced the older M-16A2. Body armor became standard issue while chemical warfare ensembles gathered dust in warehouses. Desert Camouflage Uniforms (DCUs) replaced Battle Dress Uniforms (BDUs) in country and in turn, this lead to all branches going to a new utility uniform that could be worn both in theater as well as in garrison. The USAF adopted the Airman’s Combat Uniform (ACUs) with sage green suede boots. Security Forces were no longer stationed at the front gates of USAF bases, being replaced by contract security freeing SFS more personnel to serve in theater. I believe the USAF lost some of the heritage with this last change; seeing SFS personnel wearing their distinctive dark blue beret was always a sight I associated with driving on base. It just doesn’t seem the same without SFS on the gate.

As a result of 9/11, we are now seeing veterans rejoining society at a level not seen since WWII. Unlike other wars, many of today’s veterans have suffered head traumas. Their wounds aren’t as apparent and the long-term effects are still unknown. For the first time ever in the US, these veterans include many women. The long-term effects of severed limbs and damaged body parts on these brave women are also unknown. Our society is so focused on feminine beauty, how will these women be accepted by society?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

US Girl Scouts prepare for war, pestilence

US Girl Scouts prepare for war, pestilence - Yahoo! News

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I've criticized many of DHS Secretary Napolitano's policies but on this we agree. Getting people to prepare before a disaster happens is a basic, no nonsense approach. The approach with using the Girl Scouts is reminiscent of the Civil Defense days of having all citizens familiar with the threat - in the CD case nuclear war - and steps to take (albeit "duck and cover" would not have done much). I hope she will continue to reach out to other youth groups such as the Civil Air Patrol, Explorers, Boys Clubs, Girls Clubs, etc.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

George Pataki: Obama is Jeopardizing U.S. Security

George Pataki: Obama is Jeopardizing U.S. Security

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We are taught over and over in military history and the war college; don't fight the last war again. The next attack won't involve airliners and may or may not involve foreign terrorists. The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 was committed by domestic terrorists. Pataki's comments assume only foreign terrorists pose a threat. There are many dissatisfied, homegrown terrorists that given the means, motive and opportunity would attack. What Pataki should criticize Presidnent Obama about is his selection of DHS Secretary Napolitano whose focus is substitutes the war on terror for the war on drugs. Diverting our intelligence and law enforcement resources to another war on drugs show little promise of making the homeland safe.

Monday, September 7, 2009

America's Most Stressful Cities 2009 - Yahoo! Real Estate

America's Most Stressful Cities 2009 - Yahoo! Real Estate

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The comments about Pittsburgh support something I posted earlier. Pittsburgh is one of the most stressful cities, according the article, because of the lack of sunny days. The article goes to point out the correlation between low vitamin D levels and the occurrence of colds. Before we mandate multiple vaccinations for everyone to avoid spreading the flu, perhaps looking more into increasing our levels of vitamin D might prove cheaper and more effective.

Workers get reprieve from layoffs

Workers get reprieve from layoffs | | The Cincinnati Enquirer

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The local news has followed this story for weeks but only focused on the outcome of the negotiations. The situation started with a $28 million deficit in the city budget that has lead to the current stand-off between the union and city hall. The more intriguing question is even if a lay off is avoided this year, what happens next year when the city has a projected $40 million deficit?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The American Czar

Why do US presidents try to be Russian monarchs? Every president since George H. Bush has appointed “czars” to overcome bureaucratic delays and streamline their agenda. The term started when the first President Bush appointed Bill Bennett as the first “drug czar”. The term czar originally meant a supreme monarch who had the approval of another monarch or church leader such as the Pope. In keeping with this sense of divine supremacy, Bennett quickly coined the term “war on drugs” to show the US meant business regarding the illegal use and sale of drugs. The war on drugs introduced mandatory sentencing guidelines for drug crimes that in turn flooded our prisons beyond their capacity. Conversely, drugs use remained constant (switching between drugs of choice causes fluctuations statistics) and illegal drugs continue to be smuggled into this country. The power of the “czar” in the United States then becomes questionable. Why continue having these special advisors that can’t implement their bosses political agenda?

President Obama has a record number of “czars” in his administration. In addition to the ubiquitous “drug czar”, he has 31 czars. The following is a list from;

1) Afghanistan Czar: Richard Holbrooke
2) AIDS Czar: Jeffrey Crowley
3) Auto recovery Czar: Ed Montgomery
4) Border Czar: Alan Bersin
5) California Water Czar: David J. Hayes
6) Car Czar: Ron Bloom
7) Central Region Czar: Dennis Ross
8) Domestic Violence Czar: Lynn Rosenthal
9) Drug Czar: Gil Kerlikowske
10) Economic Czar: Paul Volcker
11) Energy and Environment Czar: Carol Browner
12) Faith-Based Czar: Joshua DuBois
13) Great Lakes Czar: Cameron Davis
14) Green Jobs Czar: Van Jones
15) Guantanamo Closure Czar: Daniel Fried
16) Health Czar: Nancy-Ann DeParle
17) Information Czar: Vivek Kundra
18) International Climate Czar: Todd Stern
19) Intelligence Czar: Dennis Blair
20) Mideast Peace Czar: George Mitchell
21) Pay Czar: Kenneth Feinberg
22) Regulatory Czar: Cass Sunstein
23) Science Czar: John Holdren
24) Stimulus Accountability Czar: Earl Devaney
25) Sudan Czar: J. Scott Gration
26) TARP Czar: Herb Allison
27) Terrorism Czar: John Brennan
28) Technology Czar: Aneesh Chopra
29) Urban Affairs Czar: Adolfo Carrion Jr.
30) Weapons Czar: Ashton Carter
31) WMD Policy Czar: Gary Samore

The White House calls these “czars” special advisors to the President. The need for czars seems rather unnecessary as President name their appointees as Secretaries for the various federal agencies. In addition, the President has his Chief of Staff , National Security Advisor, National Security Council and various other executive staffers to help him formulate policy. The other problem is unlike their namesake; the American czars have no real power. They can conduct meetings, symposiums and press conferences but in the end are unable to change the very bureaucracies they are trying to circumvent.

The czars are also over-politicized; the Green Jobs czar Van Jones is getting bogged down by his past more so than by any policies regarding his current position. His comments about white kids and Columbine has polarized the Internet. I’ve listened to his comments and he does make some intriguing observations (why are majority of school shootings conducted primarily by whites?). However, he at the same time skips over the predominance of violent crimes committed by blacks (especially black on black crime). Depending on which side of his argument you find yourself, you either dismiss him for his omission or your praise him for his acumen.

Intellectual discourse is dead and only partisan rhetoric shouted at decibels approaching a jet fighter launching off an aircraft carrier can be heard. Perhaps in the middle of all of this noise, Presidents will learn to be less reliant on czars…and I may win the lottery.