September 2007


I HATE beauty pageants. Big time hate. But I know I will need a scholarship to go to college and I support girls that do the beauty pageant thing in order to get a scholarship. So reading stories like this bothers me. They’re combining to try to keep her from collecting. I hope she wins!

tiaraThe Tiara Was Nice. Now Where’s the Scholarship?

Ashley Wood, 2004’s Miss South Carolina, is locked in a dispute with the pageant over its failure to distribute the scholarship that was part of her prize.

….

You are talking about an organization that is promoting itself as the largest scholarship provider for women in the world,” Ms. Wood, 26, said of the Miss America Organization. “When contestants try to collect their funds, they encounter one obstacle after another.”

Ms. Wood said she was told that she would not get the $20,000 for winning the Miss South Carolina pageant in part because her two local pageants had not paid her $950 that she had won from them (Ms. Wood said that after she enrolled in classes, one group reneged on payment and the other dodged her when she tried to collect). In turn, because she did not receive the state money, the national pageant sent her a letter in June saying she was ineligible for the $5,000 from it, even though the deadline to use her national scholarship had not passed. “It’s like a game of gotcha,” she said. “What is very clear to me is that the goal is to not give out the scholarships if at all possible.”

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Hurricanes are damaging and Rita did a lot of damage here in Texas.  Not nearly as much as Katrina a few weeks earlier, but plenty of damage.  This is Wikipedia’s description:

Hurricane Rita was the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the most intense tropical cyclone ever observed in the Gulf of Mexico. Rita caused $11.3 billion in damage on the U.S. Gulf Coast in September 2005.[1] Rita was the seventeenth named storm, tenth hurricane, fifth major hurricane, and third Category 5 hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.

Rita made landfall on September 24 at Johnson Bayou in Louisiana, near the border with Texas, as a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It continued on through parts of southeast Texas. The storm surge caused extensive damage along the Louisiana and extreme southeastern Texas coasts and completely destroyed some coastal communities. The storm killed seven people directly; many others died in evacuations and from indirect effects.[2]

NOAA

A satellite image shows Hurricane Rita taken at 10:15 a.m. CDT Sept. 24, 2005, as it plowed through Texas and Louisiana.

 Wikipedia talks a lot about what happened the week of Hurricane Rita and in the direct aftermath, but does not mention how little of the damage has been repaired.  For that, we have to look at a new article in the Austin American Statesman that indicates that “In the two years since Hurricane Rita struck Texas, records show that the state has spent less than 1 percent of the federal money allotted to fix or replace thousands of ruined homes.”

Two years after Rita, little money disbursed for housing repairs

In the two years since Hurricane Rita struck Texas, records show that the state has spent less than 1 percent of the federal money allotted to fix or replace thousands of ruined homes.

East Texas officials, whose counties were among those hit hardest after Rita roared ashore with 120 mph winds, say the state government has been slow to release funds. But state officials blame strict federal rules and argue that Texas received less money than Louisiana and Mississippi.

“It really appears to me that the state has had an overabundance of caution to prevent fraud and abuse,” said Walter Diggles, executive director of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments. “Every time we talk to them they say, ‘Look, we don’t want a Katrina,’ or fraud with individual distributions.”

When Rita made landfall near Sabine Pass on Sept. 24, 2005, it damaged about 80,000 properties in 22 counties of Southeast Texas. Some 15,000 homes were left in need of repairs.

….

In the meantime, residents are waiting and dealing with more damage.

Evie McBride, 72, wonders whether how long she’ll be living in a Federal Emergency Management Agency travel trailer. Her home, a doublewide on the little piece of backwoods, remains in musty shambles since Rita struck.

“I tell you what is frustrating is seeing a house that would have cost $5,000 to fix 30 days after the storm will now cost $30,000 to fix because it’s just steadily deteriorating,” said Keith Billingsley, an inspector for the Deep East Texas COG.

 This needs to be bigger news and Texas needs to be pressured into actually helping these people.

Why would anyone in congress keep the people of Washington from voting?

Washington DC vote

 

D.C. Vote Bill Dies in Senate

By Mary Beth Sheridan

Washington Post Staff Writer

Republican lawmakers yesterday blocked the Senate from taking up the D.C. vote bill, a potentially fatal setback for the District’s most promising effort in years to get a full member of Congress.

The opposition to the bill is this, but I think that the Republicans don’t want people in Washington, DC to vote because many of them are black and most of them are registered Democrats.

The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and the White House have strongly criticized the legislation. They maintain that, because the District is not a state, the bill violates the constitutional mandate that House members be chosen by the “People of the several States.”

“I opposed this bill because it is clearly and unambiguously unconstitutional,” McConnell said in a statement. “If the residents of the District are to get a member for themselves, they have a remedy: amend the Constitution.”

The article points that out too.

In addition to voicing legal concerns, opponents were wary of the bill’s potential political repercussions. Some Republicans feared that the measure could eventually lead to the addition of two full D.C. senators, who probably would be Democrats.

If this is a real democracy, then the citizens of our country’s capital city should be able to participate also.

If we (the United States) turned everything over to the Iraqi government and we’re so proud of how democratic things are becoming there, then why are we (Condi Rice) trying to overturn their rules? We have nearly run out of soldiers and marines to send to Iraq, but the private
mercenaries are not as reliable since they are not subject to any laws or rules. The article in the Guardian points out that:

The dilemma for the US government is that it needs private security firms but a reversal of the Iraqi government decision
would undermine the credibility of assertions by the Bush
administration that the Iraqi government is autonomous.

No wonder the Iraqi Government wants the mercenaries security contractors out.

The private security firms are controversial, often hated by Iraqis who regard them as trigger-happy. US soldiers can face court martial if accused of unprovoked assaults or over-reaction, though the ratio of those convicted is low. But the law in relation to private security firms is vague.

Here is more of the article:

Iraq orders expulsion of US security firm

· Decision taken after killing of Iraqi civilians
· Rice tries to overturn ban on Blackwater guards

Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Tuesday September 18, 2007
The Guardian

The Bush administration faced an embarrassing stand-off yesterday when the Iraqi government ordered the immediate expulsion of all employees of the security firm Blackwater USA.

The Iraqi ministry of interior took the decision after eight Iraqi
civilians were killed and 13 wounded in Baghdad when shots were fired from a US state department convoy on Sunday.

Iraqis, quoted by news agencies, reported seeing helicopters, protecting the convoy, opening fire.

The secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, was forced to intervene to try to have the ban reversed. She was planning to call the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki. “She is going to express regret for the loss of life … (and) make it clear that we are investigating this incident,” the state department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said. The state department has refused to confirm whether Blackwater was involved. The state department and reconstruction workers rely heavily on protection by Blackwater.

Like most of my political posts, this is cross-posted at
Political Teen Tidbits and at YouThinkLeft.

 

It’s very hard to stand up to a bully on your own. Bullies can be very intimidating, which is why bullying works until someone stops the bully. This is a wonderful account of how some high school kids in Canada reacted to a bully in their school, and how they worked as a group to show that the bully’s opinion was meaningless.

 

students in pink shirts

‘I’ve stood around too long’
Central Kings students wear pink to send bullies a message
By IAN FAIRCLOUGH Valley Bureau | 3:51 PM

CAMBRIDGE — Two students at Central Kings Rural High School fought back against bullying recently, unleashing a sea of pink after a new student was harassed and threatened when he showed up wearing a pink shirt.

The Grade 9 student arrived for the first day of school last Wednesday and was set upon by a group of six to 10 older students who mocked him, called him a homosexual for wearing pink and threatened to beat him up.

The next day, Grade 12 students David Shepherd and Travis Price decided something had to be done about bullying.

RELATED: Pink shirts legend grows

“It’s my last year. I’ve stood around too long and I wanted to do something,” said David.

They used the Internet to encourage people to wear pink and bought 75 pink tank tops for male students to wear. They handed out the shirts in the lobby before class last Friday — even the bullied student had one.

“I made sure there was a shirt for him,” David said.

They also brought a pink basketball to school as well as pink material for headbands and arm bands. David and Travis figure about half the school’s 830 students wore pink.

It was hard to miss the mass of students in pink milling about in the lobby, especially for the group that had harassed the new Grade 9 student.

“The bullies got angry,” said Travis. “One guy was throwing chairs (in the cafeteria). We’re glad we got the response we wanted.”

David said one of the bullies angrily asked him whether he knew pink on a male was a symbol of homosexuality.

He told the bully that didn’t matter to him and shouldn’t to anyone.

“Something like the colour of your shirt or pants, that’s ridiculous,” he said.

“Our intention was to stand up for this kid so he doesn’t get picked on.”

Travis said the bullies “keep giving us dirty looks, but we know we have the support of the whole student body.

“Kids don’t need this in their lives, worrying about what to wear to school. That should be the last thing on their minds.”

When the bullied student put on his pink shirt Friday and saw all the other pink in the lobby, “he was all smiles. It was like a big weight had been lifted off is shoulder,” David said. No one at the school would reveal the student’s name.

Travis said that growing up, he was often picked on for wearing store-brand clothes instead of designer duds.

The two friends said they didn’t take the action looking for publicity, but rather to show leadership in combating what they say is frequent bullying in schools.

( ifairclough@herald.ca)

How stupid does Bush think that we are?

Note: spew alert for the second cartoon.  Don’t have anything in your mouth that you don’t mind having all over the screen and the keyboard.  —Freckles

The surge

The surge is working

Wouldn’t it be nice if Bush would nominate some honest lawyers who respect the constitution to head up the justice department?  All of the top spots are empty.  But he will want people he can trust to not investigate his administration, someone who agrees to illegal wiretaps and torture and  prisoner rendition around the world, and I really hope that the congress doesn’t give in.

Gonzales leaves Justice Department

Outgoing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wipes his eye during his farewell ceremony before Justice Department employees, Friday, Sept. 14, 2007, in the Great Hall at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)AP – Resigning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales left the scandal-scarred Justice Department on Friday, declaring himself hopeful about its mission of ferreting out crime and defending the truth. Gonzales quit after 2 1/2 years at the department amid investigations into whether he broke the law and lied to Congress. He has denied any wrongdoing.

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