I spent two days shopping and collecting plastic bags. As of January 1, there will be a 5 cent charge for disposable plastic and paper bags for items purchased at grocery, drug and liquor stores in Washington, DC. I happen to reuse disposable bags, so having an adequate stock pile is necessary. Sure, I use my totes and other reusable bags for groceries most of the time. But I don’t carry my garbage or sort my recyclebles in them. But this is to shift behavior and save our Anacostia River. I’ve been to a watershed clean up. I’m not mad about the bag thing.
Parking goes up in the city too come January 1. $2/hour on the meter. Will there be long lines at the bank tomorrow? It’s the end of the month and we have to get an extra roll of quarters for the meter and the laundry. The city’s trying to fill that budget gap that came from where(?) Has anyone told the tourists? You have to feed the meter M-Sat ’til 10:30 PM. New York’s starting to look like a bargain. Seems like in the last 10 years, you don’t get what you pay for.
Freezing rain predicted for the morning. The only thing worth looking forward to this new year’s eve is a once-every-19-years-on-December-31 blue moon.
“I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
— Mark Twain
I’ve been taking note of some of the dramatics playing out in the media and politically after the failed bombing attempt on the Northwest flight by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. For me, I breathed a sigh of relief when I knew his “mission” was a failure. But at the same time, I have a lot of questions regarding the last 8 years since 9-11, 2001 and the questions or outcomes of this attempt?
Let me emphasize that the bombing of the plane coming into Detroit from Amsterdam DIDN’T HAPPEN. It could’ve, but it didn’t. Thank our lucky stars, and/or God. So why am I hearing more shouting over what didn’t happen than when it actually DID HAPPEN (9-11)? Did anyone really think someone wouldn’t attempt to terrorize again? And they have. The public and the media don’t have access to all the security information. And if you’ve been in at least 4-5 airports over the past 8 years, you notice some airports do better screenings than others. This brings me to my next question.
Does TSA have jurisdiction over Nigeria’s and Holland’s airports? I’m puzzled by the questions asked of TSA regarding security in airports in other countries. In some airports, getting on the plane is like getting on the Amtrak train in DC to NYC. If you’ve done that, you know what I mean. First come, first serve. Umar went through 2 airports that were not on American soil to get to the Northwest flight to Detroit. What’s the working relationship between TSA and airports around the world?
Have we coordinated those lists and sharing information across federal departments yet? This has always been a sticking point with me. The bureaucracy continues to drop the ball. Apparently, this problem has not been fixed in the last 8 years. Had there been a single database where embassy staff, Homeland Security, TSA, the FBI could enter, share, and update information, Umar would’ve been spotted before he boarded the Northwest flight. The U.S. got a break this time. Now fix it!
What does the administrator for the Transportation Security Administration have to say about updating the process for screening travelers? Oh, that person can’t say anything, because that post is still vacant pending a confirmation. Apparently, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) is holding up the confirmation of Erroll Southers. DeMint had objections about TSA workers forming a union. Playing politics with security is in poor taste, and just downright dangerous. Shame on those people.
Who are these people saying they don’t feel safe anymore? I read a few of these comments on the Washington Post.com website. I thought 9-11 closed down the “fools paradise”; I guess the Island of Amnesia is still comfortably populated. Caution and mindfulness are always appropriate.
And that leads to…. What additional hell awaits us when we take our next plane ride? Will passenger jets eventually look like a trip across the Middle Passage.
Would better editing have saved Janet Napolitano from misinterpretation and embarrassment? Reporter after report quotes Napolitano saying “the system works,” which made it imperative for the Homeland Security chief to switch gears and pull back on that statement, to admit mistakes. However the “system” she originally referred to was after “fire pants” was taken off the plane, meaning “from this point forward.” Here’s what Napolitano actually said:
Once this incident occurred, everything went according to clockwork, not only sharing throughout the air industry, but also sharing with state and local law enforcement. Products were going out on Christmas Day, they went out yesterday, and also to the [airline] industry to make sure that the traveling public remains safe. I would leave you with that message. The traveling public is safe. We have instituted some additional screening and security measures, in light of this incident, but, again, everyone reacted as they should. The system, once the incident occurred, the system worked.
I’ve warned friends if it’s important, while talking to the media be precise, stick to the talking points and be pretty dull. It’s so easy to just chat. Either they want the information or they just want a sound byte.
Do I really want my President to do the “freak out” or the “dead or alive” act before a live audience especially when something DIDN’T HAPPEN? I’m one of those people who doesn’t have a problem with the President playing golf, because I understand it’s not just about fun and games. It’s “thinking time,” golfers explained to me. All Presidents and regular folks need that. Plus the “reactionary” drama doesn’t help. It definitely won’t help the airline industry. And it makes the public anxious, and the enemy gleeful because this kind of reaction from the POTUS gives them credibility.
Why would a rich, educated kid want to blow up a plane? The real question is “Why wouldn’t he?” He’s had everything, seen the best of everything, and knows a lot about how systems (corrupt ones included) work. He’s had life given to him on a platter. He’s lived the life. Does a goat herder have time or resources to do intercontinental terrorism? If I’m herding goats, I’ve got to get food on the table and food in the market. I’m not making enough to buy a $3,000 plane ticket (that’s cash with no luggage – when will they start flagging that like hotels?); and I’m doing whatever I have to do to survive which doesn’t leave me much time to contemplate my role in the world scheme of things. It also makes me want to see another day. Maybe in a year, I’ll be able to afford a cow.
E-Notes and I discussed this question: What’s up with “art therapy rehabilitation” in Saudi Arabia??? Apparently, two of the plotters of this failed attack were former prisons at Guantanamo and were released in 2007 to Saudi Arabia to be rehabilitated with “art therapy.” I remember this, and remember thinking “huh?” I’d like to see their art. The two men are said to be in Yemen at an al-Quaeda training camp. This should be a question for the next Dick Cheney interview. But wait! I found a video:
Update: Gawker advises to hold the powder, as the source of the “art therapy” connection story is ABC News’ Brian Ross (“ABC News’ Wrongest Reporter”).
When will people stop blaming God?
“[Abdulmutallab] penetrated all modern and sophisticated technology and devices and security barriers in airports of the world, with courage and bravery, without fearing death and with seeking the help of Allah.”
For al Qaeda to say Allah/God helped Abdulmutallab to cross all the high tech security checks yet fail to do the deed ignores the obvious: God said “No.” Did they consider there were good people on that plane, doing good things around the world like Roey Rosenblith of Village Energy, Uganda.
What new words will be flagged in our internet messages from this point on? We know we’re not the only ones reading, so I’ll take a guess: let’s start with “lonely.” Apparently Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was not a happy person, also a perfectionist who did not like getting only 1200 on SATs. I find people who are perfectionists about mechanical hands-on activities or sports are no where near as miserable as those who are trying to achieve intellectual or even spiritual perfection. I can’t say what was going on in Abdulmutallab’s mind, but based on the Washington Post article, it should’ve raised concerns with his parents. This guy was in serious emotional and mental trouble.
Why didn’t Abdulmutallab focus his anger energy into helping the oppressed in his native Nigeria? There’s plenty work that needs to be done there. And he would probably have intimate knowledge of the key players.
Here’s the silly – What name will stick to Abdulmutallab from the snarky blogsphere? I’ve already used “fire pants.” Gawker “Panty Bomber” gave me a chuckle. What underwear company will claim the remains? I guess they wouldn’t pass the kids underwear test for fireproof. Dag, that’s gotta hurt.
How I’ve neglected my on-line life for family, holiday treats, and a little trip to New York City, without a lap-top. For those of you who were pinned in by the snow, you technically have 10 more days of Christmas left to buy last minute gifts or even send Christmas cards. January 6 is Three Kings Day or the Epiphany celebrated in Latin America, Ethiopia, Spain and a few other places, maybe in a neighborhood near you. That “Twelve Days of Christmas” song was no joke. Santa may have parked his sleigh for the year, but the Kings are shining up their crowns. It’s also the second day of Kwanzaa – today’s principle is Kujichagulia, Swahili for “self-determinatin.” The last day of Kwanzaa is January 1 or New Years. There’s a gift exchange option available. This may be convenient for freelancers who didn’t see their checks before December 25.
One of my holiday traditions is eating dim sum, and the Washington Post hit it on the head with their review of New Kam Fong in Wheaton, MD (2400 University Blvd. West, Wheaton, MD 20902 – 301-933-6388). Our waitress was a bit surly trying to discourage us from ordering the dim sum. We later learned that customers on Christmas Day rattled her cage complaining about the long wait for food. We told her, that wasn’t us. Because we cook, we know how long food takes to get it just right. And that’s exactly what we got. I believe I ate at Kam Fong when they were in Chinatown DC (when it was a Chinatown). That would have been Christmas day years ago after our volunteer work at Howard Hospital. It may have been the spot where I had my first chicken feet. New Kam Fong makes dim sum as you order it, meaning my favorite pork buns take 30 minutes. So put 2 hours of change in the meter (there is free parking if available), order soup or appetizer and wait to savor something really good. Or you can always call ahead and order take out. Prices are great!
Barack and Michelle Obama left a Christmas message Christmas message before heading out to their traditional holiday destination, Hawaii, the President’s birth home (emphasis here). The trip was put off until the Senate moved the health care reform bill to the next level. Bags packed and ready to go, and then another issue – a passenger thwarted terrorist attack on a Northwest flight on Christmas Day. I’m still catching up, but the profile of the person attempting to set off an explosive on the plane is 23, male, Nigerian, and wealthy (father is a retired banker from one of the wealthiest banks in Nigeria). As E-Notes hints, in the coming months, eyes will be turning towards Africa re religious extremism and terrorism. Also, let’s not neglect the pattern of wealth and class of terrorism suspects. This guy was no goat herder.
But I have more family to visit and catching up to do. 2009 and the 1st decade of the millennium are coming to a close. And I have to assess the last ten years as well as the last ten days. ISO of an epiphany.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that this year’s official White House Holiday Card is designed by American Greetings which is based in Ohio. Hallmark (of Kansas City, Missouri) designed last year’s “green” card for the George and Laura Bush’s last White House Christmas. American Greetings’ last White House gig was during the Clinton Administration.
The greeting for the White House holiday card says: “May your family have a joyous holiday season and a new year blessed with hope and happiness.”
American Greetings also designed the Vice President’s holiday card featuring a photo of the Biden family with the greeting: “Wishing you and your family joy and peace this holiday season.”
The cards were paid for by the DNC and produced at American Greetings facilities in Bardstown, Kentucky and Ripley, Tennessee.