Dave Stancliff 2012-09-23 blogarama.com

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mayan Calender Doesn’t Predict Coming Apocalypse Experts Claim

As the clock winds down to Dec. 21, experts on the Mayan calendar have been racing to convince people that the Mayas didn't predict an apocalypse for the end of this year.

Some experts are now saying the Mayas may indeed have made prophecies, just not about the end of the world. Archaeologists, anthropologists and other experts met Friday in the southern Mexico city of Merida to discuss the implications of the Mayan Long Count calendar, which is made up of 394-year periods called baktuns.

Experts estimate the system starts counting at 3114 B.C., and will have run through 13 baktuns, or 5,125 years, around Dec. 21. Experts say 13 was a significant number for the Mayans, and the end of that cycle would be a milestone — but not an end.

Fears that the calendar does point to the end have circulated in recent years. People in that camp believe the Maya may have been privy to impending astronomical disasters that would coincide with 2012, ranging from explosive storms on the surface of the sun that could knock out power grids to a galactic alignment that could trigger a reversal in Earth's magnetic field.

Mexican government archaeologist Alfredo Barrera said Friday that the Mayas did prophesize, but perhaps about more humdrum events like droughts or disease outbreaks. Experts stressed that the ancient Mayas, whose "classic" culture of writing, astronomy and temple complexes flourished from A.D. 300 to 900, were extremely interested in future events, far beyond Dec. 21.

"There are many ancient Maya monuments that discuss events far into the future from now," wroteGeoffrey Braswell, an anthropologist at the University of California, San Diego. "The ancient Maya clearly believed things would happen far into the future from now."

"The king of Palenque, K'inich Hanaab Pakal, believed he would return to the Earth a couple of thousand years from now in the future," Braswell wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Moreover, other monuments discuss events even before the creation in 3114 B.C."

Only a couple of references to the 2012 date equivalency have been found carved in stone at Mayan sites, and neither refers to an apocalypse, experts say. Such apocalyptic visions have been common for more than 1,000 years in Western, Christian thinking, and are not native to Mayan thought.

"This is thinking that, in truth, has nothing to do with Mayan culture," said Alexander Voss, an anthropologist at the University Of Quintana Roo, a state on Mexico's Caribbean coast. "This thing about looking for end-times is not something that comes from Mayan culture."

Braswell compared the Mayan calendar, with its system of cycles within cycles, to the series of synchronized wheels contained in old, analogue car odometers. "The Maya long count system is like a car odometer," Braswell wrote.

"My first car (odometer) only had six wheels so it went up to 99,999.9 miles. That didn't mean the car would explode after reaching 100,000 miles." source

A country song about PTSD: 'All you've got left are these pieces'

Even well publically raising awareness about PTSD for the VA, Stephen Cochran was losing his own battle with the condition.

 Good Day Humboldt County!

As a combat veteran with PTSD, I really appreciate the efforts from fellow warriors like Stephen Cochran – who has been there, and done that.

His story is the new reality for thousands of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who returned home physically…but not mentally.

 

Please, take a moment and read Stephen’s story, and if you have time listen to his song “Pieces.”

“Everything you see in the music video happened to Marine-turned-country-singer Stephen Cochran: Pushing the girl away, boozing into oblivion, the gun on the blanket. It all went down last year. Even the actor who portrays Cochran is, himself, a former Marine and Iraq veteran who knows of post-traumatic stress, who has wrangled with identical demons. The actor was not acting.

The only on-screen tweak from reality was the type firearm shown. In his dimmest hour, behind a locked door in his Nashville home, exhausted, alone, and telling himself: “I’m done,” Cochran rested a loaded shotgun against his bed.

“I was just trying to get the nerve. I had it planned out,” Cochran told NBC News. “I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was tired of taking all these pills. I was going through a breakup. Couldn’t write anymore. Watching everything fall apart. I was ready to check out.”

Then: salvation, and a surreal rescue scene worthy of an epic ballad. His dog, Semper Fi, began scratching relentlessly at his door, bloodying her paws. Next, Cochran’s ex-fiancé unexpectedly entered the house, simply to retrieve a forgotten item, he said. She saw the anxious dog. She expected the worst. She barged into the bedroom, spotted the gun and physically restrained Cochran.

But from anguish came inspiration. Amid an existence long blurred by PTSD — the residue of Afghanistan firefights, Marine buddies lost in combat, and his own nearly fatal injury — one question blazed in Cochran's head. He jotted it down: “How do you paint a picture back in focus?”

“It was the only way I could describe trying to put your life back together, literally trying to do the impossible,” he said.

Around that single thought, Cochran penned an entire song, “Pieces,”an ode to the blackness from which he was aching to escape, a tale of reconnecting the scattered fragments of his shattered world, and a message of solidarity for his military brothers and sisters. The single — part of a CD with the same title — will be released in this country on Nov. 11. The song already has charted in Europe.

“It’s not just my story. So many of us think about (suicide) because you just get so tired, so tired of being the crazy guy. Or of hearing: ‘He’s weird.’ Or of hearing: ‘We can’t hire you because we really don’t know what post-traumatic stress is and you might come back and kill us all.’

“I really wrote it as my own healing, for what I was going through,” added Cochran, 33, who teamed with fellow musician Trevor Rosen to complete the song. It took them only 15 minutes.

But after playing it at several veterans’ benefits, Cochran heard from service members up and down the chain of command how they, too, connected with the lyrics. That feedback has turned “Pieces” into the soundtrack of the singer’s ongoing crusade.

“We have an epidemic of suicides in the military right now. At this point, we are physically losing both of these wars in the United States of America, not overseas.” (source)

Related: First opera about Iraq War reaches out to veteran suffering from PTSD

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, September 28, 2012

Staten’s Island’s ‘Eiffel Tower’: New York To Get the World's Tallest Ferris Wheel

New York To Get World's Tallest Ferris Wheel Good Day Humboldt County!

New York! New York! Forget Broadway! Forget the skyscrapers!

People will soon know the city as a fun place with an extreme Ferris Wheel.

I wonder how New Yorkers feel about that?

“The world's tallest ever Ferris wheel is to be created in New York - at twice the height of the it will overlook. It will offer views of the Manhattan skyline (pic: New York Wheel LLC)

Unveiled by the city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, the planned tourist attraction in Staten Island will cost £142m ($230m) and measure up at 625ft (190m). The wheel will hold 1,440 passengers (pic: New York Wheel LLC) Offering views of the downtown Manhattan skyline, the New York Wheel will be significantly bigger than the 443ft (135m)-London Eye and the 541ft (165m) Signapore Flyer.

New York To Get World's Tallest Ferris Wheel

It is designed to carry 1,440 passengers at a time and expected to attract 4.5 million people a year to what has been described as New York's "forgotten borough".

New York To Get World's Tallest Ferris Wheel

Construction is due to begin in 2014 (pic: New York Wheel LLC) Mr Bloomberg said: "It will be an attraction unlike any other in New York City. In fact, it will be, we think, unlike any other on the planet." While the privately financed project faces various reviews, officials hope to have the wheel turning by the end of 2015.

New York To Get World's Tallest Ferris Wheel

It is hoped the scheme will create 1,100 jobs (pic: New York Wheel LLC) Senator Charles Schumer said: "It's going to be a real icon. The Ferris wheel will be Staten Island's Eiffel Tower."

The overall project will also feature the creation of a huge shopping center and a 200-room hotel and is expected to bring $500m (£308m) in private investment and 1,100 permanent jobs to the borough. (source)

Time to walk on down the road…

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stolen Buddhist Statue Carved From Meteorite

A mysterious 1,000-year-old Buddhist statue with a history that sounds like an Indiana Jones film plot was carved from a meteorite, researchers have discovered.

The 24cm-tall figure was stolen from Tibet in 1938 by a Nazi team who were looking for the origins of Adolf Hitler's Aryan race. A large swastika, which was carved on the chest of the figure, may have enticed the German expedition leaders.

The swastika symbolizes good fortune in Buddhism and the ancient symbol was adopted by the Nazis, who modified it into a mirror-image form. The expedition was supported by SS chief Heinrich Himmler who believed the roots of Aryanism - the notion of racial superiority that underpinned Nazism - could be found in Tibet.

The figure, called the Iron Man because of the high content of iron in its rock, was brought to Germany by a team headed by zoologist and ethnologist Ernst Schafer. It is not known exactly how the statue was found, but after being transported there it became part of a private collection in Munich. Scientists were only able to study it after an auction in 2007.

The statue weighs 10.6kg (23.3lb) and features the Buddhist god Vaisravana seated, with the palm of his right hand outstretched and pointing downwards. Experts led by Dr Elmar Buchner, from the University of Stuttgart, analysed samples of the figure and found it was made of a rare kind of meteorite called an ataxite, which has iron and high contents of nickel.

The rock survived a long trip through the Solar System and the destructive friction with the atmosphere when it collided with Earth. "The statue was chiselled from a fragment of the Chinga meteorite which crashed into the border areas between Mongolia and Siberia about 15,000 years ago," Dr Buchner said.

"While the first debris was officially discovered in 1913 by gold prospectors, we believe that this individual meteorite fragment was collected many centuries before." The exact dating of the carving cannot be established accurately, but its style links it to the pre-Buddhist Bon culture of the 11th century in Tibet, according to the study published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.

Meteorites inspire worship from many ancient cultures, ranging from the Inuit of Greenland to Australian aborigines. (source)

Fans Rejoice: Are you ready for ‘real referees’ tonight on Thursday Night Football?

NFL replacement refs © John Cole,The Scranton Times-Tribune,nfl,football,unions,referees,replacement,refs,Those #$%@ Replacement Refs!

                   Good Day Humboldt County!

It looks like the NFL and the referees’ union came to an agreement in time for tonight’s game.

After what seemed the entire country – including presidential candidates and their sidekicks – calling for an end to the abysmal referees time on the professional gridiron, a deal was made. It was a short, and nasty, period of time that fans will look back at and call “ the three weeks of hell that practically destroyed the integrity of the game.” It’s all good now. Are you ready for “Thursday Night Football in America?”

The NFL and the referees' union reached a tentative contract agreement at midnight Thursday, ending an impasse that began in June when the league locked out the officials and used replacements instead.

"Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night" for the Cleveland-Baltimore game, Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement."

With Goodell at the table, the sides concluded two days of talks with the announcement of a tentative 8-year deal, which must be ratified by 51 percent of the union's 121 members. They plan to vote Friday.

"Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote," said Scott Green, president of the NFLRA. "We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week's games." (source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Optimism is the Key to Protecting Heart Health Researchers Reveal

                 Good Day Humboldt County!

 Hi! My name is Dave and I’m a converted optimist. I started out being a pessimist. Being cynical and pessimistic was easier than being positive – which often required herculean efforts on my part.

  If you’re not naturally an optimistic person, it requires a conscious effort to see the positive side of things. The good news is, those efforts do pay off in time. The more you allow yourself the choice – half full or half empty – and chose the half full...the better you’ll start to feel.

It does feel good to be optimistic. Actually it feels great! As long as you understand there’s a difference between a starry-eyed optimist denying reality - and the optimist who understands bad situations - but remains positive anyway. Here’s what the researchers have to say about the subject of optimism:

“Harvard researchers suggest optimism, happiness and other positive emotions may help protect heart health and lower the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events.

It also appears that these psychological well-being factors slow the progress of cardiovascular disease.

The findings are the result of the first and largest systematic review of its kind, and are reported in the 16 April online issue of Psychological Bulletin, by lead author Julia Boehm, a research fellow, and senior author Laura Kubzansky, an associate professor, in the department of society, human development, and health, at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in Boston, Massachusetts.

According to the American Heart Association, one person dies from cardiovascular disease every 39 seconds in the United States.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Be the first on your street! Now you can pack a 950,000 volt punch with the ‘Knuckle Blaster Stun Gun’

Shocking Knuckle Duster

Here you go Boys and Girls…be the first on your street to pack a wallop with either hand!

The Knuckle Blaster Stun Gun is intended as a self defense device for people who jog in dodgy areas (and if it’s a really really bad area you could always wear one of these on each hand as well as the defensive jacket).

Before shocking any potential muggers you should probably ask them if they have a pace maker, then again nah, just knee them and follow up with 950,000 volts to their face!

source

The Numbers Say You Probably Won't Believe The Numbers I’m About to Show You

             Good Day Humboldt County!

The following survey will probably come as no surprise to you. People have lost trust in the mass media.

The new “Lame Stream Media” makes no bones about supporting partisan causes. A flip of the dial and you have the Conservative excuse for reporting – FOX NEWS – or the Liberal excuse for news MSNBC – both party organs where the devoted can go to get sound bytes for ammunition.

All the credibility built up over years of news reporting from the likes of Edward R. Murrow to Walter Cronkite has been destroyed by greed. Yes, greed. Talking heads spewing party lines get more viewers than any attempt to just give the straight news.  A lot of Americans are fed up with the mass media for good reason.

A new survey from Gallup suggests that six in ten Americans have little or no trust in the mass media to deliver the news "fully, accurately and fairly," a record number since the polling outfit began tracking the trend.

Here was the exact wording of the question: "In general, how much trust and confidence do you have in the mass media—such as newspapers, TV, and radio—when it comes to reporting the news fully, accurately and fairly—a great deal, a fair amount, not very much, or none at all?"

Sixty percent answered either "not very much" or "not at all," with the remaining 40 percent opting for either "a great deal" or at least "a fair amount." Just in case (or, we suppose, in the likely event) you don't believe us, here's the handy chart straight from Gallup:1348238369969

According to the pollsters, this year's drop in media trust is being fueled largely by self-identified Republicans and independents.

Twenty-six percent of Republicans said they trusted the media either greatly or a fair amount, similar to the level of trust the GOP reported back in 2008, another election yea1348238466082r. Independents, meanwhile, are much more negative about the media than they were in 2008, something that Gallup says suggests "the group that is most closely divided between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney is quite dissatisfied with its ability to get fair and accurate news coverage of this election."

Another Gallup chart (left).

Source

 

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, September 24, 2012

Where have all the hippies gone? Long time passing - They sold out before they were even aware of it

             Good Day Humboldt County!

I still hear conversations among baby boomers like myself about how we “sold out” and went “establishment.”

Pretty funny eh? It’s been about 50 years since people danced with flowers in their hair in the parks amid clouds of marijuana smoke.

We all thought we were the original “drop outs” and were really cool customers. We touted free love and sang about expanding our minds on drugs. We re-invented the Victory sign from WWII to mean “Peace,” and flashed two wide spread fingers like it was a secret sign. How naïve we were. How dumb. How idealistic. What dreamers. We all sold out way before we admitted it! Read on:

The Misconception: Both consumerism and capitalism are sustained by corporations and advertising.

The Truth: Both consumerism and capitalism are driven by competition among consumers for status.

Beatniks, hippies, punk rockers, grunge rats, metal heads, goth kids, hipsters – see a pattern forming here? It goes back farther than these examples, the baton of counter culture – the mantle of anti…whatever the mainstream is doing – it gets passed from generation to generation.

Whether you lived through Freedom Summer or “Jem and the Holograms” – somewhere in your youth you started to realize who was in control, and you rebelled. You started to discover the paradigms of censorship and consumerism – and they repulsed you.

You needed to self actualize, to find your own way, and you sought out something real, something with meaning. You waved your hand at popular music, popular movies, and popular television. You dug deeper and disparaged all those mindless sheeple who gobbled up pop culture.

Yet, you still listened to music and bought shirts and went to see movies. Someone was appealing to you despite your dissent. If you think you can buy your way to individuality, well, you are not so smart.

Since the 1940s, when capitalism and marketing married psychology and public relations, the market has been getting much better and more efficient at offering you something to purchase no matter your taste.

See the punk rocker on the left? Yeah, he bought all of those clothes. Someone is making money off of his revolt. That’s the strange paradox – everything is part of the system. There is no such thing as selling out, because there is no one to sell out to.

Every niche opened by rebellion against the mainstream is immediately filled by entrepreneurs who figure out how to make a buck off those who are trying to avoid what the majority of people are buying. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there were many stabs at trying to thwart this through artistic gesture  – “Fight Club,” “American Beauty,” “Fast Food Nation,” “The Corporation,” etc.

The creators of these works may have had the best intentions, but their work still became a product designed for profit. Their cries against consumption were consumed. Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Kurt Cobain, Andy Kaufman – they may have been solely concerned with creating art or illustrating academic principles, but once their output fell into the marketplace it found its audience, and that audience made them wealthy.

Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter, both philosophers, wrote a book about this in 2004 called “The Rebel Sell.” It’s available in the United States as “Nation of Rebels.” The central theme of the book is you can’t rage against “the system,” or “the man” or “the culture” through rebellious consumption.

Here’s the conventional thinking most counter cultures are founded upon:

All the interconnected institutions in the marketplace need everyone to conform in order to sell the most products to the most people. The media through press releases, advertising, entertainment and so on works to bring everyone into homogeneity by altering desires.

To escape consumerism and conformity, you must turn your back and ignore the mainstream culture. The shackles will then fall away, the machines will grind to a halt, the filters will dissolve, and you will see the world for what it really is.

Finally, the illusory nature of existence will end and we will all, finally, be real. The problem, say Heath and Potter, is “the system” doesn’t give a shit about conformity. In fact, it loves diversity and needs people like hipsters and music snobs so it can thrive.

For example, say there is this awesome band no one knows about except you and a few others. They don’t have a record contract or an album. They just go out there and play, and they are great.

You tell everyone about them as they build a decent fan base. They make an album which sells enough copies to allow them to quit their jobs. That album gets them more gigs and more fans. Soon, they have a huge fan base and get a record contract and get on the radio and play on “The Tonight Show.”

Now, they’ve sold out. So you hate them. You abandon the band and go looking for someone more authentic, and it all starts over again. This is the pump by which artists rise from the depths into the mainstream. It never stops, and over time it gets faster and more efficient.

Unknown bands are a special sort of commodity. Living in a loft downtown, wearing clothes from the thrift store, watching the independent film no one has heard of – these provide a special social status which can’t be bought as easily as the things offered to the mainstream.

In the 1960s, it took months before someone figured out they could sell tie-dyed shirts and bell bottoms to anyone who wanted to rebel. In the 1990s, it took weeks to start selling flannel shirts and Doc Martens to people in the Deep South. Now, people are hired by corporations to go to bars and clubs and predict what the counter culture is into and have it on the shelves in the cool stores right as it becomes popular.

The counter-culture, the indie fans and the underground stars – they are the driving force behind capitalism. They are the engine.

This brings us to the point – competition among consumers is the turbine of capitalism. Everyone who lives above the poverty line but isn’t wealthy pretty much has no choice but to work for a living doing something which rewards them with survival tokens.

Working as a telemarketer, for example, allows you to have food, clothing and shelter, but doesn’t put you directly in charge of creating, growing or killing those things you need for sustenance. Instead, you trade in tokens for those things. As a result, you have a lot of free time and some leftover tokens.

We don’t directly compete with each other for resources like we did for the millennia before mass production. Before this setup, people were often defined by their work, by their output. The things they owned were usually things either they handmade, or were things other people made by hand. There was a weight, an infusion of soul, in everything a person owned, used and lived in.

Today, everyone is a consumer, and has to pick from the same selection of goods as everyone else, and because of this people now define their personalities on how good their taste is, or how clever, or how obscure, or how ironic their choices are.

As Christian Lander, author of “Stuff White People Like,” pointed out in an interview with NPR, you compete with your peers by one-upping them. You attain status by having better taste in movies and music, by owning more authentic furniture and clothing.

There are 100 million copies of every item or intellectual property you can own, so you reveal your unique character through how you consume.

Having a dissenting opinion on movies, music or clothes, or owning clever or obscure possessions is the way middle-class people fight each other for status. They can’t out-consume each other because they can’t afford it, but they can out-taste each other.

Since everything is mass-produced, and often for a mass audience, finding and consuming things which appeal to your desire for authenticity is what moves these items and artists and services up from the bottom to the top – where it can be mass consumed.

 Hipsters, then, are the direct result of this cycle of indie, authentic, obscure, ironic, clever consumerism. Which is ironic – but not like a trucker hat or Pabst Blue Ribbon. It is ironic in the sense the very act of trying to run counter to the culture is what creates the next wave of culture people will in turn attempt to counter.

“I think ‘sell out’ is yelled by those who, when they were selling, didn’t have anything that anyone wanted to buy.”Patton Oswalt

Wait long enough, and what was once mainstream will fall into obscurity. When that happens, it will become valuable again to those looking for authenticity or irony or cleverness. The value, then, is not intrinsic. The thing itself doesn’t have as much value as the perception of how it was obtained, or why it is possessed, does.

Once enough people join in, like with trucker hats or slap bracelets, the status gained from owning the item or being a fan of the band is lost, and the search begins again. You would compete like this no matter how society was constructed. Competition for status is built into the human experience at the biological level.

Poor people compete with resources. The middle class competes with selection. The wealthy compete with possessions. If you live in a jungle and forage for food between spear-sharpening sessions, you compete for status with talent or prowess or…something.

If you get a paycheck, someone out there is buying what you are offering. You are selling – they are buying. You sold out long ago in one way or another. The specifics of who you sell to and how much you make – those are only details.” (source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, September 23, 2012

AS IT STANDS: Politicians aren’t talking about America’s gang problem

                                      

          By Dave Stancliff?For The Times Standard
Politics dominate the airwaves
and cyberspace, perhaps rightly so in an election year,  but there’s a subject I’m not hearing about during the campaign and it bothers me: the gang problem in our country.
 We do have a gang problem in case you haven’t noticed or live in a good neighborhood. The FBI reports there are now 1.4 million gang members involved in the 33,000 different gangs active inside the United States. The number of gang members in the U.S. has increased by 40 percent since 2009.
Some communities have pretty much been taken over by the gangs, but instead of addressing the problem, the federal government continues to ignore it. It seems, during a campaign year, politicians are afraid of alienating any segment of voters.

I wonder if we’ll have to wait until the election is over before the media turns its attention to the growing problem of gangs in our society? The ten people who were killed during the Memorial Day weekend this year in Chicago underscore the continuing struggle to control criminal gangs.
There have been 200 murders in Chicago so far this year - up from 139 at this time last year. Local police say about 80 percent were gang-related in a city whose gang membership is estimated at 100,000.
  Chicago's gang problem is a reflection of a troubling national trend in which criminal gangs have been expanded in number and reach throughout the country, according to the National Gang Center (NGC), an arm of the Justice Department.
  James "Buddy" Howell, a senior research associate at the gang center, told USA Today (9/4) that gangs have become so "entrenched" in some of the nation's largest cities that gang-related crime is largely immune to forces that have driven down overall crime.
Violent crime has declined throughout the nation, according to the Justice Department. The irony of this is obvious. Americans live with their own brand of domestic terrorists while being taxed to wage a war against international terrorists.

 We may pride ourselves on being a superpower, not a third world country, but what’s happening in the streets of America puts us in a similar place as those struggling nations.
  For too long now, the growing threat of gangs to innocent people in America has been virtually ignored. If the federal government would stop busting people for smoking pot,  they’d see gangs are a much larger problem.
 I’m not saying everyone ignores this encroaching threat to our society. There are gang task forces in nearly every city and county across the nation, but most are struggling for funding to keep up with the growth of organized gangs. (Here’s a list of gangs in America today: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gangs_in_the_United_States)

 What monies do come down from the federal government to fight gangs are limited because it’s not a priority. The wrong-headed War on Drugs eats up millions of dollars that should go toward a national approach to deal with the growing gang problem.

 Gangs are everywhere. Even here in Humboldt County. I’ve watched their growth over the last two decades with dismay. Couple those gangs with the recent influx of Mexican cartels and Humboldt County might as well be in Southern California.
 Many of the areas along our border with Mexico are open war zones. Just across the U.S. border lies the city of Juarez, Mexico. Juarez is considered one of the most dangerous cities on the entire planet because of the brutal drug war being waged there.

Border patrol agents have reported that Mexican drug cartels now openly conduct military operations inside Arizona and Texas. Their association with American gangs is no secret. A large part of the cartel’s success can be attributed to the help American gangs provide.
Enough is enough. Let’s get over the wrong-headed thinking employed in the past. We need to prioritize fighting our own domestic terrorists today. Be it political correctness, fear, or a national case of hoping the problem will go away, gangs can’t continue to be accepted as a way of life in America.
As It Stands, I’m a firm believer in taking care of my own house before I go elsewhere to help others clean theirs.

Reader response to this column via email

Mr. Stancliff:

“Your very cogent column in the Times-Standard only glanced on what I believe is the center of the gangs issue. Pot. Pot profits are a tax free subsidy program for more crime and violence.

More important to the campaigns is the fact that about 55 million Americans smoke pot*. And many of those Americans are middle class people who can afford the high price of today's pot.  At least 18% of the U.S. population. With pot law liberalization on the ballot in several more states politicians are taking caution because these initiatives bring out voters and those voters have no reason to love either of the two dominant parties. Fact is the day after the election both parties will be arresting American pot smokers just as aggressively as they do any other time. These voters know this.

Its all in the numbers for the campaigns. The Massachusetts special election for liberal icon Teddy Kennedy's senate seat is the most significant example. In 2008 Barack Obama won MA with 62% of the vote. On the same ballot was a pot liberalization initiative. It received more than 65% of the vote. Come forward to 2010. The Democrats put on the ballot Martha Coakley who was the state attorney general who also led the effort AGAINST the winning 2008 pot initiative. She lost to a Republican political neophyte by more than 5 percentage points. It is obvious, to me, that Coakley could not draw the pot reform voters to the polls.

There are other electoral upset examples that I am sure are keeping the Democrats and Republicans walking on eggs rather than broach the Drug War issue in this election. They know that they will change nothing That would be a major turnoff for pot smoking American voters. A voting constituency of less than 20% of these 55 million American pot smokers would be greater than the number of people that gave Barack Obama his majority in 2008. The margin in this election is much tighter than in 2008. The voters among these Americans feel betrayed and misled by President Obama. He can't afford to remind them or their feelings now, this close to the election.”

Pat Rogers, Allentown, PA