Archive for January, 2010

Proposed bill would shield people reporting overdoses

Posted on January 30th, 2010

Proposed bill would shield people reporting overdoses

From the New York Times:

“As a former heroin user, Kathleen Kane-Willis said she remembered being afraid when she called 911 to report a drug overdose because she thought she might be arrested.  Now a drug policy researcher at Roosevelt University, Ms.  Kane-Willis is pushing to resurrect legislation that would help shield callers from prosecution when they seek medical attention for themselves or someone else who has overdosed.

“No one should die because they are afraid to call 911,” Ms.  Kane-Willis said. 

Click here to read the full article.

Editor’s note: Apparently such confidentiality is the de facto practice in Lancaster County

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GOP Adopts Platform Test for Candidates

Posted on January 30th, 2010

GOP Adopts Platform Test for Candidates

From Newsmax.com:

“The Republican National Committee, pressed to find a way to more clearly distinguish itself from Democrats, on Friday adopted a rule that will prod GOP leaders to provide financial support to only those candidates who support the party’s platform…

“‘No more Scozzafavas, please. No more Specters, please. No more Chafees, please,’ [RNC member Bill Crocker of Texas], referring to Dede Scozzafava, a GOP candidate for a U.S. House seat in New York whom conservatives opposed; U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched his party registration from Republican to Democrat last year, and former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, a liberal Republican.

“Crocker urged the party to ‘present candidates who will be attractive” to the people who, like those in the Tea Party movement,’ are really dissatisfied with our political conduct over the past several years.” 

Click here to read the full article.

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Homeless services work against greater challenges

Posted on January 30th, 2010

Homeless services work against greater challenges

By Cliff B. Lewis

The state of homelessness in Lancaster County is not faring well in these first months of 2010: The effects of a sluggish national economy have swiftly trickled down to society’s lowest income brackets; a local shelter (Crispus Attucks) has recently closed its doors, pulling about 20 beds from our social safety net; and a cold, blustery winter relentlessly bears down on both rich and poor. Fortunately, Lancaster’s homeless services are rising to the challenge.

According to Ken Marzinko, coordinator of the School District of Lancaster’s Homeless Students Project, “I’ve been working with the homeless population for 18 years, and certainly this feels like the most challenging time that I’ve experienced.”  Marzinko’s program, which serves to connect homeless students and their families with the local support network, typically serves about 900 students each school year. This year they expect to see at least 1,000.

“I can assure you that my partner and I are getting more requests for help from parents directly and from school staff who have been made aware of housing losses and job losses,” Marzinko said, “It’s been very busy this school year.” Marzinko said that he does not know of any homeless children being left to the street, since they are seen as a top priority for local service organizations.

It was announced in late summer 2008 that Crispus Attucks would be closing a Lancaster City homeless shelter, due to lack of funding. The center had offered room for 20. In response, Water Street Ministries added 60 beds in its Community Emergency Shelter in January of last year.

According to Maria Schaszberger, spokesperson for Water Street Ministries, the number of people accessing the mission’s services has increased by 26% since last year.

Schaszberger said that the mission has not been experiencing frequent overflow in its men’s shelter, with an average of 10 beds remaining open each night. In the event that those beds are full, the center can at least provide escape from the weather: “Otherwise, there’s a hallway at the Water Street Mission we use for men to get out of the cold and be safe,” Schaszberger explained.

To increase the local capacity for sheltering women and children, Water Street Ministries has partnered with the Council of Churches’ Winter Shelter, which is now open exclusively to that demographic. “We can’t take any chances when we’re working with children,” Schaszberger said.

According to Gretchen Lichty, coordinator of the Winter Shelter, no women or children have had to be turned away from services this year. The program is a collective effort of several religious congregations, one of which will host the shelter within their premises each week. On the coldest of nights, Lichty said, the shelter draws no more than 21 women—well within their capacity.

“Now there’s just no way we’ll fill up,” Lichty said.  As Shaszberger put it, “Between the Water Street Mission and our partnership with the Winter Shelter, we believe we are prepared to meet the need this winter.”

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INTELLIGENCER JOURNAL

Posted on January 30th, 2010

INTELLIGENCER JOURNAL

An editorial “The correct call” goes on to say “James E. Andersok executive director of the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission, told the commission that, at the very least, juveniles should consult with an attorney before waiving the right to counsel.…

“The state also should open juvenile cases to the public and to reporters except in unusual or extreme circumstances…The media, as has been its custom, would be prohibited from publishing the names of minors.  Roughly 30 other states currently open juvenile proceedings to the public.”

WATCHDOG: Three wags of the tail! The merits of the proposals are so self evident that we should all be ashamed that they haven’t always been the practice.

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NEW ERA

Posted on January 30th, 2010

NEW ERA

After challenging the concept of streetcars for initial cost, applicability to a small city such as Lancaster, and obstructing traffic during rush hour, Carol Petersen’s column re streetcars concludes:

“Many of the cities with so-called ‘heritage’ lines cited by Lancaster streetcar fans found their ridership dropped off steeply after an initial period of either free or very low priced fares, and numbers continued to drop the higher the fare prices rose. And I speculate that, once the nostalgia novelty wore off, the same would happen to the streetcars of Lancaster.

“This proposed streetcar is not a ‘modern streetcar system.’ It is not light rail. It is not a commuter line. It is an amusement. And a very high-priced, disruptive, inconvenient, backward looking one at that.”

WATCHDOG: Two wags of the tail! Why does Mayor Rick Gray persist upon wasting money for a study of this obviously nutty idea which has virtually no public support?

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PA not expected to return to prior peak employment for three years

Posted on January 30th, 2010

PA not expected to return to prior peak employment for three years

Jim Diffley of Global Insight, the state’s economic forecaster, told the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee that it will take three years for non-farm job payrolls to exceed the early 2008 high.   It is expected this will take place early in 2013.

The Harrisburg region is expected to reach that level a half year earlier.

Members of the committee expressed concern that by the time jobs had recovered there would be a short fall of $5 billion in the state’s pension system.

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U.S. Can’t Afford Not to Have a Second Stimulus Package

Posted on January 29th, 2010

U.S. Can’t Afford Not to Have a Second Stimulus Package

Daily Finance: Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, and Rudolph Penner, a fellow at the Urban Institute and former Congressional Budget Office director, both said Friday that an additional stimulus package would be required to improve the U.S. economy and allow the nation to avoid a double-dip recession…

Mark Zandi said we need to “get the GDP growing before worrying about debt.” He added that with unemployment at 10% and the economy still shedding jobs, it’s more critical to focus on GDP growth now than to worry about the deficit. Zandi’s prescription: About another $200 billion in stimulus, focused on tax breaks to encourage hiring, expanded lending for small business, an expansion of aid to those who have lost their jobs, financial support for state and local governments, and a fix for the housing crisis. While he said he didn’t know the details of the president’s promise of $30 billion for community banks to make loans available to small business, Zandi said he supported more stimulus for small-business lending.   (Continued)

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Ford’s sales jump 10% in January

Posted on January 29th, 2010

Ford’s sales jump 10% in January

Bloomberg.com –  Ford Motor Co.  said its U.S. sales rose at least 10 percent in January as optimism about the economy spurred business customers to boost vehicle purchases.

Deliveries to so-called fleet buyers jumped by more than 50 percent from a year earlier, helping offset a drop of 1 percent to 2 percent among individuals, George Pipas, the company’s sales analyst, said today. Total sales increased by a double-digit percentage, he said, without giving a figure. (Continued)

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Prisons: America’s growth industry

Posted on January 29th, 2010

Prisons: America’s growth industry

The following was forwarded by a viewer:

HartfordAdvocate.com: Inside the borders of the United States resides a separate nation of 2.3 million people. It’s a nation in constant flux, with 700,000 residents released each year, their places soon taken by 700,000 others. It’s a land where the meals are free but the doors are always locked. Often, the same people keep returning to this nation, while others who’ve been there before are released, creating an awful human churning effect that baffles social scientists, hamstrings mayors, breaks municipal budgets and overwhelms the ability of do-gooders to adequately address.

I speak, of course, of America’s prison population. Incarceration may be the only U.S. industry that enjoys unlimited growth potential. We lead the world, by a wide margin, in the number of citizens in prison. The per capita rate is six times higher than Canada, eight times that of France, and even surpasses China and Russia. According to Georgetown law professor David Cole, a new prison opens every week somewhere in America, a truly insane statistic that prompted him to suggest, “We literally cannot afford our political addiction to incarceration.”  (Continued)

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Getting eye to eye with children

Posted on January 29th, 2010

Getting eye to eye with children

One of the things parents tell me about smoking cannabis is how much more it puts them in touch with their kids and how it reduces the urge to punish them corporally. In fact, these are both really important to parents, and if there was some way to integrate these notions, eg.,

“I never had time to play with my kids until I stopped and smoked a joint. Now I appreciate every moment with them.”

or

“My kids were so loud and demanding that I wanted to smack them, but instead I smoked a joint and gave them the attention they needed. Know what? That worked a lot better.”

or

“My day at work was so demanding and frustrating that when I came home I was just a hair’s breadth from flying off the handle. My kids deserve better. That’s why I smoke a joint and relax so we can enjoy dinner and family life together.”

or

“As a parent, I have my own problems and it’s hard for me to relate to my kids, but when I’ve smoked some cannabis I find that we can get down on the floor, eye to eye, and discover the world together again.”

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Credo

"....I have never made it a consideration whether the subject was popular or unpopular, but whether it was right or wrong; for that which is right will become popular, and that which is wrong, though by mistake it may obtain the cry or fashion of the day, will soon lose the power of delusion, and sink into disesteem." Thomas Paine, Common Sense, on "Financing the War", March 5, 1782

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