April 2009

In an age when people rarely read past the headline, here’s the sort of sloppy reporting that feeds mass hysteria.

The New York Times:

The swine flu outbreak in New York may have spread beyond one school in Queens — where victims now are estimated to number in the hundreds — to pockets across the city, including at least two other schools, officials said on Tuesday.


Unlike the majoruty of people, I read on

At Public School 177, a school for autistic children in Fresh Meadows, Queens, 12 students had fever or other symptoms that could indicate swine flu. The school, at 56-37 188th Street, which was closed as a precaution, is about half a mile from St. Francis Preparatory School, at 61-00 Francis Lewis Boulevard, where the first cases were detected several days ago.

So, “the hundreds” of victims weren’t in PS 177, so they must be at St. Francis Prep. St. Francis must be in Queens (it is), and THAT’S where those “hundreds” of victims of the swine flu must be then.

I read on.

About half a dozen children at Ascension School, a Roman Catholic school on 108th Street near Broadway in Manhattan, have come down with fever.

That’s not Queens, and that’s not “hundreds”…where are these “hundreds” of victims?

Two people in the Bronx, some suspected cases in Times Square and Columbia University.

Then finally, paydirt:

By Tuesday, 45 cases of swine flu had been confirmed in New York State, all of which were linked to St. Francis students or their parents, siblings, teachers and friends. An additional 32 cases from around the state are suspected of being swine flu. Officials believe that the flu spread rapidly through the 2,700-member student body at St. Francis, infecting hundreds of other students.

“Officials believe”?

Why don’t they know?

I left the Old Grey lady, and went for the Daily News online.

A 50-person private cleaning crew was working a 12-hour shift with sponges and buckets Sunday to sanitize St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows.

“We want to make sure the bug has totally gone away,” said Brother Leonard Conway, principal of the Catholic high school.

Eight of nine students tested for the potentially deadly virus have it, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed.

There’s your “hundreds”.

The Times should have taken greater care to report the facts of the story; They never substantiated their “hundreds” of victims claim. Nowhere on their piece is there a mention of the CDC testing the students at St. Francis.

We need concise, non-sensationalistic reporting on this issue. The goal being an informed public, not a panicked one.

But parents and city officials report that, for the most part, the more than 150 students who’ve fallen ill are showing only mild symptoms.

About a dozen students recently had returned from Mexico, where the virus has killed dozens and sickened more than a thousand – and on Thursday, scores visited the school nurse’s office, saying they felt ill.

Kudos to the Daily News for their level-headed approach to the St. Francis story.

Sadly, as I wrote this, the wires reported the first confirmed swine flu fatality in the US.


Q: What would you do if you wanted to spread a communicable disease widely and quickly, with as little as little cost and personnel as possible?

A: Send an infected individual into a place where lots of people, from lots of different places around the country and the world congregate.

Florida has reported an incidence of swine flu today, and Indiana health officials confirmed this afternoon that a student at Notre Dame has swine flu. These developments bring to seven the number of states where the infections are being investigated.

In Orlando, Fla., the chief medical officer at Florida Hospital Loran Hauck indicated the flu has spread to a tourist who visiting the crowded Disney World.

“A case was diagnosed here in Orlando today on a tourist from Mexico who came to Disney attractions two days ago to visit,” Hauck wrote in the email. Florida health officials have not confirmed that the tourist was stricken with swine flu.

Walt Disney World is the fifth biggest tourist destination in the US, behind Times Square, the strip at Las Vegas, the National Mall, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston.

Great place to get as many people, from as many places as possible, exposed to a highly infectious disease in a very short period of time.

So then…is this another media-driven crisis, or is this the real deal?

If like me, you’ve been paying attention to news of the spread of this disease, you may feel a bit confused with the brouhaha surrounding it. Yes, there are closed to 150 confirmed swine flu deaths in Mexico, but what’s 150 deaths compared to those 36,000 who die yearly from the common, run-of-the-mill flu?

We’ve all heard that figure…right?

The CDC parrots it with every appearance on every news show in the nation.

So we need to take the swine flu seriously, and check with a doctor of we feel bad. Just don’t panic.

That’s it…right?

One thing bother me here; I can’t see to substantiate that 36,000 per year figure (outside of CDC report) no matter how hard I try to.

Here’s the closest I’ve come so far. You can check for yourself on page 9 of this report:

Number of deaths from influenza

    1979: 604
    1981: 3,006
    1983: 1,431
    1985: 2,054
    1987: 632
    1989: 1,593
    1991: 1,137
    1993: 1,044
    1995: 606
    1996: 745
    1997: 720
    1998: 1,724
    1999: 1,665
    2000: 1,765
    2001: 257

There is something wrong with someone’s calculations…36,000 is a far cry from 1,266, and that’s the number I get when I add up those figures.

Are we being conditioned to accept tens of thousands of deaths from this disease as being “normal”?

Why do I feel like Tom Cullen suddenly?

“M-O-O-N. That spells manipulate! Laws yes!”

I hope this ain’t Captain Trips, but until then, just ask yourself a question:

Baby, can you dig your man?

The US Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on Safford Unified School District v. Redding, the case of the 13 year-old middle school girl stripped-searched by her school’s assistant principal in a fruitless search for prescription-strength Ibuprofen.

In a nutshell…school administrators found prescription-strength Ibuprofen on a student. That student claimed that she had received them from then 13 year-old Honor student Savana Redding. Savanna was questioned, then taken to a room where two female officials made Savana remove her shoes, socks, pants, and shirt. She was then told to shake her bra and underpants and move them aside, exposing her breasts and pelvic area, to reveal any hidden pills. None were found.

Savanna’s family sued the School District, claiming that Savanna’s Fourth Amendment rights had been violated. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the District Court of Arizona’s earlier ruling for the defense, and the School District appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Key points in the appeal:

  • Whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits public school officials from conducting a search of a student suspected of possessing and distributing a prescription drug on campus in violation of school policy.
  • Whether the Ninth Circuit departed from established principles of qualified immunity in holding that a public school administrator may be liable in a damages lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for conducting a search of a student suspected of possessing and distributing a prescription drug on campus.

Here is the text of The Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In a nutshell…no search without a warrant, no warrant without probable cause, warrant to be “supported by Oath or affirmation”, detailing what exactly will be searched.

The only thing left to be decided here, seems to be whether a 13 year-old girl falls under the description of “the people”, and if we truly believe what our Declaration of Independence says, our rights are granted at birth, by the Creator.

Justice Breyer commented on the strip search during Tuesday’s hearing:

“I’ve got suspicion that some drug is on this kid’s person. My thought process is: I would rather have the kid embarrassed by a strip-search, if we can’t find anything short of that, than to have some other kids dead because the stuff is distributed at lunchtime and things go awry.”

Justice Breyer appears to be confused on his exact role in these proceedings, he is supposed to be concerned about the Constitution, not about the kids.

Then again, there appears to be a lot of confusion about who is supposed to do what in this whole issue, right from the beginning.

We have Middle School girls behaving like snitches, and school officials conducting warrantless strip searches, in addition to Supreme Court Justices acting like child-care personnel.

The truth of the matter is that this case present the SCOTUS with a sticky mess…if they find that this search was unconstitutional, they may very well void out ALL warrantless searches; the cornerstone of the failed War on Drugs.

I am afraid that Savanna Redding is going to be the next victim of the War on Drugs, adding her name to a list that begins with our Fourth Amendment rights, and cotinues with the death of a 13 year-old Honor student’s future.

So while the State of Arizona is cracking down on the abuse of prescriptoin Ibuprofen, 300 metric tons of cocaine, and in excess of 1,100 metric tons of marijuana will be consumed by US citizens this year.

I’d say that this war is lost.

This just in on the wire:

RESTON, Virginia (Reuters) – David Kellermann, acting chief financial officer of troubled U.S. mortgage giant Freddie Mac, was found dead on Wednesday in his suburban Virginia home after apparently committing suicide, a local police source said.

Kellerman was found hanging in the basement of his Virginia home in the pre-dawn hours. No note was found at the scene.

He was a made CFO of the troubled lending giant in September last year, after the company was seized by the Feds, and “had played a key role in helping the firm navigate accounting scandals and answer questions from regulators and investors.” The search for answers continues, as Freddie Mac acknowledged that “employees have been interviewed by investigators” just this past March.

Does anyone know where Barney Frank was late last night?

Just in from TampaBay.com:

The driver who ran into a tea party protester last week outside Gulf View Square mall has been charged with careless driving. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Melanie M. Schrey was driving south on U.S. 19 about 6:40 p.m. last Wednesday when she pulled into Mel’s Diner, where about 50 protesters were gathered in the driveway. Schrey’s 1994 Chevrolet sedan hit Joseph D. Sprowls, 62, of New Port Richey, FHP said. Sprowls was treated at Community Hospital of New Port Richey for minor injuries. After interviewing numerous witnesses, FHP determined Schrey, 23, of New Port Richey, was at fault.


How about homicidal?

Or crazy?

Or both.

FHP determined that Ms. Schrey was “at fault”…this took them almost a week to figure out.

Was the other option available to charge Mr. Sprowls with assault on a ’94 Chevy?

You can add this item to that ever-growing “it can’t happen here” list; the suspension of our First Amendment rights under the pretense of security.

From FOX News

A bill making its way through Congress proposes to give the U.S. government authority over all networks considered part of the nation’s critical infrastructure. Under the proposed Cybersecurity Act of 2009, the president would have the authority to shut down Internet traffic to protect national security.

The government also would have access to digital data from a vast array of industries including banking, telecommunications and energy. A second bill, meanwhile, would create a national cybersecurity adviser — commonly referred to as the cybersecurity czar — within the White House to coordinate strategy with a wide range of federal agencies involved.

Ben Franklin pointed out that people willing to exchange essential liberty for a bit of temporary safety, deserved neither; this proposed bill makes me both feel less safe, and less free.

The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (S.773) is sponsored by sen. John D. Rockefeller (D), and co-sponsored by Senators Nelson, Bayh, and Snowe, and it seeks to create yet another Czar: the Cybersecurity Czar. This is either the sixth or seventh Czar created (or suggested) by the Obama administration so far (Health Czar, Climate Czar, Urban Affairs Czar, Car Czar, Technology Czar, Copyright Czar).Added to the already existing line-up of Czars, this is the most loyalty in our government since Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown.

This is clearly yet another blatantly unconstitutional power grab by the Obama administration; an attempt at seizing control of what is quickly becoming both the primary venue for the press, and a national town square where we congregate to exercise our God-given rights.

S.773 is fifty-five pages, way too long for a DC bunch more adept at reading the luncheon specials at Charlie Palmer or The Monocle, than the garbage laws they vote on. You know no one will actually read it.

George W. Bush was repeatedly called a Fascist, a scare monger, and accused of violating our civil liberties in the name of national security. John McCain was described as “more of the same” during the Presidential campaign, and Barack Obama was elected on the idea of “change we need.”

So, where IS that promised change?

Is that “change” the difference between Obama’s pre-election rhetoric, and the post-election reality of his governance?

If that’s it, then keep your change, and I’ll keep my freedom.

Or maybe we’ll meet at Yorktown to discuss the whole thing.

“Yeah, I’m taking my apology back! I stand by calling her a dumb bitch, just like she’s standing by her words from yesterday too.”

That from bloggoceleb Perez Hilton, the self-proclaimed Queen of All Media, on his ongoing spat with Miss USA finalist Carrie Prejean, a 21-year old Californian with a knack for honesty.

Perez, one of the judges for the event, asked Miss Prejean to comment on the issue of same-sex marriage during the interview section of the pageant:

Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?

Miss California’s answer was honest forthcoming, and intelligent:

I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman.

That response embodies everything that is great about America…people should have a choice, and that choice includes the ability to disagree with the choices made by other people.

Perez, on the other hand, apparently believes that freedom is something only he should enjoy, and that his opinion on this issue should be the only acceptable opinion.

Sadly, Perez Hilton (real name Mario Lavandeira) apparently lacks the intelligence to understand that opposition to same-sex marriage is basically grounded on the belief that the freedom to marry the individual of their choice is a freedom only some should be allowed to enjoy, and that the opinion of they who enjoy that freedom is the ONLY acceptable opinion.

Mario “Perez Hilton” Lavandeira is very bit as much against freedom of choice, as those he seems to detest. Carrie Prejean, in her response, supports the very American ideal of freedom, even as she disagrees with the notion.

Perez should blog less and read more…Voltaire’s “Essay on Tolerance” being a good starting point:

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.”

Miss Prejean stands by her response, even as she acknowledges the fact that it may in fact have cost her the Miss USA title:

“It did cost me my crown. It is a very touchy subject and [Hilton] is a homosexual, and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would’ve wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything.”

Way to go Miss Prejean, you may not hold the title, but you are an American Princess.

As for Perez Hilton…calling Carrie Prejean a dumb bitch is could very well be the highest compliment that a man who changed his name to phonetically approximate the name of the world’s dumbest bitch could think of.

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