In less than half a century since Newton Minnow, then the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, called television “a vast wasteland,” the wasteland has become ever more vast and vastly more inane. And I am speaking not only of shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos or Dancing With the Stars. I mean the newscasts as well. Case in point: CBS News' Katie Couric won a Walter Cronkite award for her impact on the last presidential election. But Couric is no Cronkite.
The White House announced on April 13 that the Obama administration will ease U.S. restrictions on dealings with Cuba, including allowing unlimited travel and money transfers by Cuban Americans to family in Cuba. The news had been leaked earlier in the day by a senior administration official, who told news agencies such as the Associated Press and AFP on condition of anonymity, "Restrictions on the families will be lifted." A formal announcement was made at the White House in the afternoon, during presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs' daily briefing with reporters.
The Commentary magazine website has posted an interesting article from its March issue authored by John Bolton, who served as the U.S. Representative to the United Nations during 2005-2006. The article reviews a report published in September 2008 entitled, A Plan for Action, which carries the subtitle, “A New Era of International Cooperation for a Changed World: 2009, 2010, and Beyond.” The thesis of the report can be pretty much summed up by a sentence from its Executive Summary: “International cooperation today must be built on the principle of responsible sovereignty, or the notion that sovereignty entails obligations and duties toward other states as well as to one’s own citizens.”
Retreating somewhat from promises made during Barack Obama's presidential campaign, the White House announced on April 8 that the administration might agree to postpone auctioning off 100-percent of emissions allowances under a cap-and-trade system proposed to limit so-called greenhouse gas pollution. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, told reporters that a group of cabinet-level officials is trying to establish principles to guide the climate legislation now being considered by Congress.
The Department of Justice withheld the psychiatric records of a detainee who's been used by the government as a witness in a number of Guantanamo cases. The anonymous witness, according to recently released court records, had an antisocial personality disorder, which could mean that he is prone to lying and could lack regard for the difference between right and wrong, which in turn would seriously handicap his credibility. He was being treated weekly for a serious psychological problem.
President Barack Obama ended his European jaunt with a message to Muslims everywhere: the United States is not at war with Islam. Fortifying that statement, the president, whose father and stepfather were Muslims, proclaimed that the European Union must admit Turkey as a member, which would be an absolute calamity for Europe — or what remains of it.
A new grassroots phenomenon is sweeping the nation — Tax Day Tea Parties. One of the leading sponsoring organizations, the American Family Association (AFA), has announced on its website that AFA TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party Day rallies on April 15 are now scheduled in 1,837 cities. Meanwhile, the originators of the Tax Day Tea Party concept at taxdayteaparty.com list hundreds of Tea Parties scheduled for April 15.
Fox News has completely blown apart the mantra being chanted by politicians and the news media that 90 percent of the guns used in crimes in Mexico come from the United States. Fact is, says Fox News, only about 17 percent are trickling in from north of the border, and some of those legally.
The press has sensationalized recent sprees of mass shootings across the nation. From Jiverly Wong’s murder of 13 (plus killing himself) in a Binghamton, New York, language center to the shooting of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the murder of eight by another gunman in a Carthage, North Carolina, nursing home just weeks earlier, the incidents are all over the press.
People who travel frequently are accustomed to the inconvenience and stress associated with dealing with the seemingly arbitrary “security precautions” administered by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Some examples include: