Category Archives: News and politics

Castro’s resignation

The GOOD:  The potential for change – new island paradise for Americans.

The BAD:  Embargo stays.  What’s up with THAT??

The UGLY: "It’s very good that Fidel resigns. But if Fidel dies, it’s better," – quote from an exile.

Exiles hail news of Castro’s resignation – Life-

MIAMICuban exiles in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood welcomed Tuesday’s news that Cuban President Fidel Castro had officially resigned power, but most in the heart of the Cuban exile community weren’t optimistic the move would bring major changes or democracy to the communist nation.

As news of the resignation spread, motorists honked vigorously at police patrol cars and television reporters. The streets came alive with chatter as small groups gathered on the streets or in local eateries.

"I hope this is the beginning of the end of the system, but we have to wait," said 35-year-old chemist Omar Fernandez, who left Cuba for the U.S. six years ago.

Repeated rumors of Castro’s death over the years helped prepare residents and officials for a day that all knew would eventually come. The community’s reactions so far were calm, peaceful and not as boisterous as when thousands took to the streets after Castro temporarily handed power to his brother Raul in July 2006.

Police on watch
Most exiles view Castro as a ruthless dictator who forced them, their parents or grandparents from their home after he seized power in a revolution in 1959. Police said they were "keeping a sharp eye" on Little Havana, but residents weren’t gathering in large numbers to celebrate. Nothing indicated a need for increased patrols off Florida or that a mass migration was imminent, said Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chris O’Neil.

"It’s very good that Fidel resigns. But if Fidel dies, it’s better," said Juan Acosta, a Cuban who left the Caribbean island in 1980, as he stopped for a newspaper on Calle Ocho, Little Havana’s main street.

"The system there is almost over. You are seeing the end," said Acosta, who like many Miami Cubans has relatives on the island, in this case his mother and sister. "The dictatorship is over."

The Cuban-American National Foundation, or CANF, a leading anti-Castro exile organization, said Castro’s resignation "opens a new chapter in the history of the revolution and the history of the Cuban people."

"After 50 years there is no more one-man rule in Cuba because his successors cannot maintain the same power and the same position that he attained during the last 50 years," CANF president Francisco "Pepe" Hernandez said.

Embargo to stay
Separately, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said the United States will not soon lift its embargo on Cuba.

Asked by reporters at the State Department if Washington planned to change its Cuba policy now that Castro has stepped down, Negroponte replied: "I can’t imagine that happening anytime soon." He declined further comment.

The centerpiece of American policy toward Cuba has been the economic embargo, first instituted in limited form in 1960 and strengthened in 1962. Castro persistently called the trade embargo "criminal," and claimed that its economic impact on the island ran well into the tens of billions of dollars.

In Rwanda, President Bush expressed hope that the end of Fidel Castro’s presidency will launch a transition to democracy in Cuba after nearly 50 years of ironclad, communist rule.

"What does this mean for the people in Cuba?" Bush said at a news conference during his trip to Africa. "They’re the ones who suffered under Fidel Castro. They’re the ones who were put in prison because of their beliefs. They’re the ones who have been denied their right to live in a free society. So I view this as a period of transition and it should be the beginning of the democratic transition in Cuba."

Change from military
Ulises Colina, a 65-year-old electrical technician, said he was not certain if the resignation would bring any change. "I think it was a foregone conclusion that his political career would be over soon," Colina said.

Colina theorized that any change in Cuba would have to come from within the military.

"Changes? Well, he’s the leader of the gang but he has a bunch of auxiliary gang members who don’t want to see change," Colina said.

At a popular Cuban restaurant farther from Little Havana, the sentiments were similar.

"Even though this is great news for Cubans and for me personally, but I don’t think anything is going to change," said Jose Miranda, 46. "Last time I was here was when the news said that he was really sick and we thought that he was dead. And look what has happened. Nothing."

A U.S. senator whose parents were Cuban, Robert Menendez, echoed Miranda’s comments.

"This Castro is the same as the other in terms of philosophy, having been part of a dictatorship," said Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.

"To just embrace Raul would be a huge mistake. All we’d be doing is embracing another dictator," Menendez added.

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The decline of American infrastructure

A few months ago, I remember hearing about a bridge that collapsed in Minnesota.  The Corps of Engineers went out and said that the bridge had been overdue for an overhaul.  They went further to say that only 20% of ALL the bridges in the United States had been up to date in inspections.  I find that alarming.  In the wake of Katrina and the levee breaking in New Orleans I ponder the degradation of our physical infrastructure.  It’s a shame. 

So what brought this on; what caused me to think of this…I’m currently in IAD (travelers know exactly where I am).  This airport, like the majority in this country have very little (if any) AC outlets.  This is frustrating.  Aggravating.  Infuriating.  How can it be that the advent of the web and interconnectivity have not caused a rehaul of something as simple as putting in more outlets in a busy airport?  You may say, "But Rick, you have no idea how much that will cost or disrupt the status quo….)  HOGWASH! spend the money.  If you need an operation, you don’t worry about the cost if you need it.  There should be power strips along the walls looking out at the runways.  Now, all airports are not bad.  SLC actually has an area with AC outlets, unfortunately it’s right next to the smoking area.  I expect major airports to cater to the business traveler and make it more convenient to work.  the lounges are nice, but if you are flying First Class or want to pay a fee for that, then what?  Restaurants are nice; everyone needs to eat, but MOST people nowadays need to stay connected and AC outlets helps them stay connected longer.

I am monopolizing the one free working outlet on the wall where I am.  I have my laptop plugged in and an external hard drive.  if they had power strips, I wouldn’t be such a bad citizen.


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There seems to be a lot of "controversy" over the use (or abuse) of Taser weapons.  Before we get into if they are safer or whether the police overreated to the situations we see on the news, let’s take a history step back about 15 years ago…..Rodney King.
I maintain that Rodney had it coming.  Was the beating he received over the top?  It appeared so, at least to me.  There is an underlying current, however.  What was Mr. King doing that caused the police to even pursue him?  Why did he not submit to police when told to do so?  Why did he resist arrest?
Now here we are a teenage college student gets electronically beat up by police because he would not submit to police.  We can apparently see what is causing the ruckus and the question comes up again:  Why did he not just do as he was told?
We have free choice to do as we may.  What we don’t have the option of doing is choosing the consequences of our choices.  If I stick my hand in fire, I don’t have the option of choosing whether or not I get burned.  If you piss me off, (your choice), you don’t have the option of choosing MY response.  If you don’t like the possible consequences, logic dictates that you shouldn’t make that choice.  Had the student simply chosen to obey (the first time) he might not have been tasered.  It would have been at THAT point (in my mind) he would have a case against the police. 
You can’t say "I didn’t ask for….." when your actions brought the worst on.  You should have thought about that before.  If you want to be "your own person" so be it.  But don’t come bitching about how the consequences were unsavory because you acted on your own.  Please. 

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Talking about What it means to be Mormon


What it means to be Mormon

June 18: One of the leaders of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Elder Russell Ballard, sits down with NBC’s Ron Allen to talk about what it means to be a Mormon and talks about misconceptions of what Mormonism stands for.




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The Mormons…re-visited

Here is a trailer for the first of two documentaries being done on the Church this year.  This one is being done by PBS and Frontline.  The second should be out toward the end of the year and is being done by LDS members.  I like the fact that the announcer is being as impartial and informative as he can without pandering to or panning the subject.

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Talking about The dissenting opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson



The dissenting opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson

Although this case now relegated to history as a footnote to the historic Brown v. Board of Education, I think it is worth spending a few minutes reading the dissenting opinion to the majority decision that established the doctrine of "separate, but equal." I have always found Justice Harlan’s opinion quite brilliant.

While there may be in Louisiana persons of different races who are not citizens of the United States, the words in the act, "white and colored races," necessarily include all citizens of the United States of both races residing in that State. So that we have before us a state enactment that compels, under penalties, the separation of the two races in railroad passenger coaches, and makes it a crime for a citizen of either race to enter a coach that has been assigned to citi-zens of the other race…

In respect of civil rights, common to all citizens, the Constitution of the United States does not, I think, permit any public authority to know the race of those entitled to be protected in the enjoyment of such rights. Every true man has pride of race, and under appropriate circumstances when the rights of others, his equals before the law, are not to be affected, it is his privilege to express such pride and to take such action based upon it as to him seems proper. But I deny that any legislative body or judicial tribunal may have regard to the race of citizens when the civil rights of those citizens are not involved. Indeed, such legislation, as that here in question, is inconsistent not only with that equality of rights which pertains to citizenship, National and State, but with the personal liberty enjoyed by every one within the United States…

The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is, in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time, if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty. But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved. It is, therefore, to be regretted that this high tribunal, the final expositor of the fundamental law of the land, has reached the conclusion that it is compe-tent for a State to regulate the enjoyment by citizens of their civil rights solely upon the basis of race.

In my opinion, the judgment this day rendered will, in time, prove to be quite as pernicious as the decision made by this tribunal in the Dred Scott case…The present decision, it may well be apprehended, will not only stimulate aggressions, more or less brutal and irritating, upon the admitted rights of colored citizens, but will encourage the belief that it is possible, by means of state enactments, to defeat the beneficent purposes which the people of the United States had in view when they adopted the recent amendments of the Constitution, by one of which the blacks of this country were made citizens of the United States and of the States in which they respectively reside, and whose privileges and immunities, as citizens, the States are forbidden to abridge. Sixty millions of whites are in no danger from the presence here of eight millions of blacks. The destinies of the two races, in this country, are indissolubly linked together, and the interests of both require that the common government of all shall not permit the seeds of race hate to be planted under the sanction of law. What can more certainly arouse race hate, what more certainly create and perpetuate a feeling of distrust between these races, than state enactments, which, in fact, proceed on the ground that colored citizens are so inferior and degraded that they cannot be allowed to sit in public coaches occupied by white citizens? That, as all will admit, is the real meaning of such legislation as was enacted in Louisiana…

If evils will result from the commingling of the two races upon public highways established for the benefit of all, they will be infinitely less than those that will surely come from state legislation regulating the enjoyment of civil rights upon the basis of race. We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our people above all other peoples. But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts the brand of servitude and degradation upon a large class of our fellow-citizens, our equals before the law…

I am of opinion that the statute of Louisiana is inconsistent with the personal liberty of citizens, white and black, in that State, and hostile to both the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the United States. If laws of like character should be enacted in the several States of the Union, the effect would be in the highest degree mischievous. Slavery, as an institution tolerated by law would, it is true, have disappeared from our country, but there would remain a power in the States, by sinister legislation, to interfere with the full enjoyment of the blessings of freedom; to regulate civil rights, common to all citizens upon the basis of race; and to place in a condition of legal inferiority a large body of American citizens, now constituting a part of the political community called the People of the United States, for whom, and by whom through representatives, our government is administered.

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Arizona Governor’s Race — IT IS ON!!!



"Difficult race

Most polls have Napolitano with a commanding lead over her potential Republican rivals, so Munsil will have to catch fire quickly in the general election with issues that please his conservative base and appeal to moderates. Napolitano hopes to grab a good chunk of Republican votes by touting an agenda that she says reflects mainstream Arizona. That means a lot of talk about the economy, education and health care.

The clock is ticking. Early ballots will be mailed out to voters in less than five weeks.

As the underdog, Munsil probably will frame the debate around two hot-button issues: illegal immigration and banning gay marriage, which will be on the Nov. 7 ballot as part of a separate measure. He said he also will campaign heavily on education and the state’s crime problems.

Napolitano, who enjoys high approval ratings, will remind voters of her accomplishments: implementation of full-day kindergarten, the transition of a massive state deficit into a budget surplus and Arizona’s strong economy.

Munsil called Napolitano "out of step with Arizona."

Barry Dill, a Napolitano campaign consultant, responded in kind.

"Over the next eight weeks, we are confident that Len Munsil will be exposed for the inexperienced, out-of-the-mainstream zealot that he truly is," Dill said.

And the race begins."

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