Category Archives: 1

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader: Thanksgiving For Social Scientists: Wish It Were – OpEd

I wish there could be a Thanksgiving for the applied bounty that could come from the hundreds of thousands of political scientists, economists, sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists.

I am referring especially to those social scientists who are full-time, tenured professors at universities, colleges and community colleges who are not indentured to commercial moonlighting. Those of us who look for ways to get things done for the betterment of society seek such contributions from people who spend their days studying what is happening in our country, and to whom. Other than a few minor exceptions, this union has not occurred.

Nearly fifty years ago, a leading administrative law professor Kenneth Culp Davis–interested in governance–wrote a controversial article bewailing the near total absence of any useful contributions in this field by political scientists.

Here is a brief list of contemporary needs that could benefit from academic specialists who are concerned and knowledgeable about our country’s shortcomings and could know how to get things moving.

1. The lack of civic motivation to show up and do something about wrongs widely agreed upon–all over America, a tiny percentage of engaged citizens face the same problem. They can’t get people to show up at the polls, at town council meetings, or at rallies and marches. Maybe the psychologists could try their hand at that one. Look at the back of a $2 bill and see the drawing from 1776–showing up is half of democracy.

2. The need for proper yardsticks by which to measure abuses of power–power structures control these metrics so that they can control debate, inflict censorship and depress people’s expectations. Some economists have offered ways to measure economic progress–e.g. the condition of children–as alternatives to what the business economists have structured for the corporatists. Much more needs to be done to “yardstick” the qualities of economies in order to expose better the disconnect between GDP growth and people’s well-being.

3. Ways to reach and motivate enlightened billionaires to provide the water for the already fertile soil of just changes–some of these enlightened super-rich have told me they have little idea of how to effectively put their money to work for justice, so they continue giving to charities. A society that has more justice needs less charity. Also, how about some functional insight on the majority of super-rich who are, shall we say, tight with their money? Addressing the parsimony of the plutocrats invites an inter-disciplinary action plan stimulated by theorists and empiricized by the applied wings of these disciplines.

4. How can small but effective civic groups be started in the thousands to fill the widespread imbalances of power in our deteriorating society? An example of one of these groups would be full time Congress Watchdogs with part time volunteers in every congressional district to lift the yoke off 535 men and women, most of whom are using their authority to shoehorn corporate power over Washington and driving our country into the ground. The Right calls this crony capitalism; the Left calls it corporate welfare or the corporate state.

5. How do you counteract the periodic war mania that the warmongers fan in our country–think the 2003 invasion of Iraq and other unlawful displays of brute force foreign policies? The manufactured, bloody Iraq war was based on Bush/Cheney lies and deceptions which led to over 300 retired high military, national security and diplomatic officials speaking out against the pending invasion. These included the two main security advisers to the first President Bush, James Baker and Brent Scowcroft. All this was well known to applied social scientists (they’re not all theorists). Imagine them figuring out how to band such a group together with overtly anti-war critics such as mega-billionaire George Soros. Such a well-endowed secretariat for these highly credible, retired leaders could have widely exposed the falsifications, jolted Congress and the media and stopped the drive to this ruinous war that is erupting again in a brutal civil conflict.

6. When overdue reform movements get underway, how can sociologists help with suggestions to sustain their momentum so they do not burn out? I’m thinking of Occupy Wall Street and its theme of standing up to gross inequalities.

7. Recently, the media watch group, FAIR, published data showing the enormous bias of the national media based on who they invite to speak about U.S. military intervention. For example, on the recent question of military options in Syria and Iraq, the “high-profile Sunday talk shows” had 89 guests. Only one guest, Nation editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel, in FAIR’s words, “could be coded as an anti-war guest.” The rest came from the usual militaristic politicians, like the ubiquitous Senator John McCain (who recently noted his 101 appearances just on Face the Nation) and war hawks from Washington “think tanks” or publications like The Standard. With all the multi-disciplinary communications specialists, some well-connected, in academe, can’t some come up with a strategy to change this brazen exploitation of the public airwaves?

Maybe some academics think such practical immersion is not intellectually challenging or career advancing. Recall Albert Einstein who once said that physics is simple compared to politics.

Many social scientists are employed or retained by corporations to “get things done” for them. That’s paying work backed by business power and money. But given the present cultures and mind-sets of social scientists, I doubt whether, absent these pre-existing infrastructures, they could come up with practical answers even if the civic culture could afford them.

The exceptions need more publicity. For example, professor and biologist Barry Commoner brilliantly organized scientists to press the government toward a test ban treaty and highlighted the radioactive fallout of atomic bomb testing on the American people.

Professor Paul Wellstone, starting penniless and at zero in the polls, teamed up with maverick political consultant Bill Hillsman to win a U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota in 1990.

Educational anthropologist Penny Owen for years singlehandedly taught middle-school students, who were considered very difficult learners, through the use of theatre and other self-actuating activities to discover their inner talents and motivations.

Economist Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has helped organizations advance arguments for raising the minimum wage and for instituting a small tax on stock trades.

Besides giving us insights, surveys and findings, can more social scientists like these few but important examples change some routines to provide strategies, tactics, and solutions that can more practically flow from their knowledge to action?

Ron Wyden

Wyden Asks FAA To Update Unmanned Aircraft Rules

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to speed up approvals for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) test permits, and to ensure the agency’s plans to regulate these aircraft don’t fall behind schedule.

The FAA created six test sites across the country to study unmanned aircraft in response to a request from Congress in 2012 to craft regulations that meet the unique safety challenges posed by UAS. The agency, which is responsible for overseeing the safety of U.S. airspace, has until September 2015 to create a strategy to integrate unmanned aircraft into U.S. airspace.

“In light of recent reports, I am concerned that proposed regulations on small, commercial unmanned aircraft will be costly, needlessly restrictive and hinder research and development for the growing UAS industry,” Wyden said. “The FAA needs to act quickly to alleviate these concerns and issue guidelines for developers and operators of unmanned aircraft that will give certainty to the UAS industry and ensure the safety and privacy of Americans.”

Wyden, along with Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., asked the FAA to streamline its process for allowing UAS operators to test their aircraft at designated sites. Obtaining a Certificate or Waiver of Authorization can take from two months to a year, according to the FAA.

Oregon houses three UAS test ranges: the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and airspace outside Pendleton and Tillamook.

“We remain concerned about the impacts that continued delays in the process are having on the American UAS industry and the national economy, and the safety risk posed by expanding unlicensed operations,” the senators wrote in a letter.

Commercial unmanned aircraft use is a growing industry with the potential to contribute significantly to the U.S. economy. The senators noted the possible chilling effect on creative developments in unmanned aircraft technologies without clarification from FAA on how to proceed.

“This industry cannot continue to grow without further direction and guidance from the FAA on its planned regulations,” they wrote.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31, and an F/A-18F Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213, prepare to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) to conduct strike missions against ISIL targets. George H.W. Bush is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert Burck/Releasedl)

Airstrikes Continue To Target ISIL In Syria, Iraq

U.S. military forces continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria yesterday and today using bomber and fighter aircraft to conduct 10 airstrikes, U.S. Central Command officials reported Wednesday.

Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted seven airstrikes in Iraq yesterday and today using attack, fighter and remotely-piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists, officials said.

According to U.S. Central Command officials, In Syria, 10 airstrikes near Kobani struck an ISIL fighting position, a large ISIL unit, two tactical ISIL units, and destroyed four ISIL staging areas and six ISIL fighting positions.

Officials said that In Iraq, two airstrikes near Mosul destroyed an ISIL bulldozer, two ISIL vehicles, three ISIL-occupied buildings and an ISIL fighting position, and also struck a large ISIL unit. Near Kirkuk, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL tank, an ISIL Humvee and another ISIL vehicle, and also struck two ISIL units. North of Sinjar, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL Humvee and an ISIL vehicle. Northwest of Ramadi, an airstrike damaged an ISIL checkpoint.

And, west of Bayji, an airstrike destroyed one ISIL vehicle and damaged another.

All aircraft returned to base safely, according to U.S. Central Command officials, adding that airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group’s ability to project power and conduct operations. U.S. Central Command officials said.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the U.S., Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the U.S., Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Vancouver Police Officers Involved In Shooting‏

Vancouver Police responded to a disturbance between a male and a female at an apartment located at 11716 NE 49th Street in Vancouver. Officers were advised that the male subject had set an apartment on fire and was believed to be armed. Multiple officers arrived and located the male in the parking lot of the complex armed with a gun. The male refused commands from officers to put his weapon down and was shot. The male was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The fire fully engulfed the unit and has since been extinguished. Neighboring units in that building were evacuated. There were no injuries related to the fire, however multiple residents have been displaced. The Red Cross is currently assisting those residents.

No names are being released at this time.

Detectives from the Regional Major Crimes Team and Arson Team are investigating this incident.

Albany Oregon city hall

Nominations Open For Albany’s Human Relations Commission Award

Nominations are now open for the Human Relations Commission Award, sponsored by the City of Albany Human Relations Commission.

The Commission wants to recognize individuals and nonprofit organizations or nonprofit businesses in Albany that have worked to promote harmonious relations among the citizens of Albany. Selection will be based on a demonstrated commitment to promoting human relations, diversity, and/or equality through community programs and activities. Nominees need not be Albany residents.

Award recipients will be chosen in two categories: “individual” and “nonprofit” organization/“nonprofit” business. Up to two runners-up in each category will also be recognized. Awards will be announced and presented at a meeting of the Albany City Council late February or in March.

The first Human Relations Commission award was presented in January 2012.

James Ezell Clark

Sex Offender Sentenced To 40 Years In Prison For 2013 Kidnapping And Sexual Assault

34-year-old James Ezell Clark was sentenced on Monday to 40 years in prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in 2013.

This investigation began on September 18, 2013, at 3:16 a.m., when Central Precinct officers responded to the area of Southeast 3rd Avenue and Main Street on the report of a sexual assault.

Officers arrived and contacted the victim who told police that she was sleeping in her friend’s car in the area of Southwest 2nd Avenue and Oak Street. The victim told police that she woke-up with a stranger sexually assaulting her in her friend’s car, which had been moved across the Willamette River to Southeast 3rd and Main.

A passerby riding a bicycle heard the victim screaming and went to see what was happening. The passerby had a flashlight and shined it into the car, which allowed the victim to escape the vehicle. The suspect then sped away in her friend’s car. The passerby waited with the victim until police and medical personnel responded to the scene.

The same day, the victim received a complete sexual assault examination at a Portland hospital, which was key to obtaining critical evidence in the case which was submitted to the Oregon State Police Crime Lab for analysis,

Ultimately, DNA was used to identify James Clark as the suspect in this case. Clark is a Registered Sex Offender in Oregon after a 2002 conviction for Rape in the First Degree. Clark was arrested on November 26, 2013, by the US Marshals Oregon Fugitive Task Force.

The Portland Police Bureau said it would like to remind community members that stranger-to-stranger sexual assaults are fortunately a rare occurrence.

Around 30 Dead Crows Found, Central Precinct Officers Investigating

Central Precinct officers responded Wednesday morning to Waterfront Park on the report of several crows suffering seizures and flopping on the ground.

Officers arrived and located several dead crows in the area. Portland Parks & Recreation Park Rangers located additional crows and are working with police.

Additional dead crows were found in the area of Chapman and Lownsdale Square parks and Lovejoy Fountain.

In all, approximately 30 dead crows were found dead from unknown causes.

Portland Firefighters responded to assist and did not find any indication hazardous materials in the air. Officers and firefighters checked the area and did not find anything apparent that would have caused the birds to suddenly die.

The Audubon Society is responding to assist officers with these unusual incidents and will be conducting follow-up to try and answer what happened to these birds.

At this point, there is no information on why the birds died and no apparent risk to members of the community.

Anyone coming across dead crows in Portland parks should not move them and should call the Park Ranger Hotline at (503) 823-1637.

Released photo of suspects.

Wilsonville Retailers Hit By Tobacco Thefts

In the late morning hours on Monday two men entered two different Wilsonville businesses, the 76 Station located at 30085 SW Parkway Avenue and the Plaid Pantry located at 29890 SW Town Center Loop West, and stole large quantities of tobacco products.

In each case the victim business had just received a large shipment of products for sale, but had not yet placed the items into their inventory. The store employees were briefly distracted and the men exited with the stolen items.

The men were seen leaving one of the scenes in a dark colored single cab pickup truck with a matching canopy.

Suspect 1: Male, possibly white or Hispanic, 5’8″ tall, 250 pounds, bald head, about 40 years of age.

Suspect 2: Male, African American, 5’10” tall, 300 pounds, short hair, mustache, 40-50 years of age.

The witness observations and actions of the suspects indicate that this was a planned theft and there may be other victim businesses.

Oregon's John Kitzhaber

Oregon Governor Kitzhaber Statement On Ferguson

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has released a statement following the decision by the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri to not indict the police officer involved in the killing of Michael Brown.

Following is Governor Kitzhaber’s statement.

“The verdict rendered by the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri has sparked anger and frustration across our nation. But it is in these moments of palpable response to years of injustice that I speak to you as a father of a son in America.

All parents, regardless of race, class, culture or origin, should feel the unshakeable confidence that when they send their children into the streets, they will return home safe and sound.

The pain and suffering experienced by Michael Brown’s mother ring true for all parents when she said that this is about the loss of a child, a loss that came at the hands of “…people who are paid to protect them.” These simple words are not just about black or white. Nor are they about criticizing the police officers who have pledged to protect and serve.

These words are about our collective responsibility to ensure that our children are free from suffering the pain of bullying, of stereotyping, of racial profiling and any other behavior that ends their possibilities before they begin. These words are about making sure law enforcement has the training, skills, tools and support necessary to do their jobs safely…both for themselves and the communities they are entrusted with protecting.

Most importantly, her words are about creating an expectation that bias against anyone — regardless of whether it is from institutions or individuals—will not be tolerated.

Forty-six years ago on April 4, 1968 – the day that Martin Luther King was assassinated — Robert Kennedy spoke in Indianapolis, and said:

“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”

Let us take from the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri a lesson that we have failed to learn over the past 50 years. This is also a collective tragedy that should — and must – wake us up to the indisputable fact that that we have a long way to go in terms of in addressing the underlying disparities and inequities in our society.

This tragic loss of another son’s life, reinforces the fact that many communities are justifiably frustrated and mistrusting of our systems. The people who are marching in Ferguson and across the country are calling for immediate action. This is an opportunity for us to change how we talk about race and inequality in our communities. Now is the chance for us to commit ourselves to ensuring that we are all working toward a system that creates justice for all.”

Senator Jeff Merkley

Merkley Encourages Oregonians To Support Small Businesses Over Holiday Weekend

Oregon Senator Merkley helped kick off the holiday shopping season on Tuesday when he visited small businesses in Northwest Portland to encourage Oregonians to support small business during the holiday season.

Senator Merkley also highlighted a local small business campaign called Little Boxes that encourages Oregonians to shop Portland’s small businesses to earn discounts and win prizes.

“Taking the time to shop locally during the holidays is a simple step to help our small businesses thrive,” said Senator Merkley. “Small businesses are key to our economic success, and I encourage everyone to spend Thanksgiving celebrating family and friends and then take some time during the weekend to explore and shop Oregon’s small businesses.”

During the event Senator Merkley visited four small businesses that are part of the Little Boxes campaign and was joined by Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish and co-founder of Little Boxes, Will Cervarich.

Little Boxes is a city-wide shopping event and prize raffle on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. For the two days after Thanksgiving, Little Boxes encourages shoppers to discover the quality and variety of Portland’s local retail shopping scene.

“Little Boxes is a uniquely Portland event– and has quickly become an annual celebration of local small business,” said Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. “Neighborhood small businesses are the backbone of our local economy. They employ half of Portland’s workforce, and for every dollar we spend at a local small business, almost 70 cents stays in the local economy.”

“We started Little Boxes to amplify the profile of Portland’s independently owned, specialty retailers during the kick off to the holiday shopping season,” said Will Cervarich, co-founder of Little Boxes and co-owner of betsy & iya. “It can be difficult to compete in the noisy world of holiday marketing, so we founded Little Boxes to pool the resources of what’s now become 215 shops citywide to create a fun way to experience Portland’s vibrant local shopping scene on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.”

Portland Police Arrest Seven People During Evening Protest‏

Portland Police officers made seven arrests Tuesday evening for unlawful behavior after a splinter group broke away from a very peaceful Ferguson demonstration in Downtown Portland.

Tuesday afternoon’s demonstration and march that started and ended at the Justice Center was peaceful, well attended and there were no reported problems during the march, according to the Portland Police Department.

After the organized event ended, a separate group broke away and began a second march that wound its way through Downtown Portland, across the Burnside Bridge and onto Southeast Grand Avenue.

At Southeast Grand Avenue and Oak Street, a driver seated in a vehicle was assaulted by a member of the crowd. 37-year-old Jeffrey Martens of Hillsboro, Oregon, was punched in the face by a protester, who then disappeared into the crowd. Martens was not seriously injured and an assault investigation will be conducted by police.

Protesters then marched onto Interstate 5 where officers were subjected to rocks and bottles thrown by some members in the march. Officers used pepper spray during this encounter with protesters and made several arrests. The freeway was clear within approximately 10 minutes.

Protesters continued to march through Downtown Portland until they settled into Waterfront Park where the crowd dispersed.

Officers made a total of seven arrests for a variety of charges:

46-year-old Danica Brown was arrested and charged with Interfering with a Peace Officer and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree.

19-year-old Amanda Calderon was arrested for Interfering with a Peace Officer, Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree, and Resist Arrest.

55-year-old Berick Heroux was arrested for Interfering with a Peace Officer and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree.

21-year-old Dylan Croasdill was arrested for Interfering with a Peace Officer and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree.

41-year-old Michael Chavez was arrested for Interfering with a Peace Officer and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree.

47-year-old Gregory Smith was arrested for Interfering with a Peace Officer and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree.

31-year-old Brandon Bashaw was arrested for Interfering with a Peace Officer and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree.

Brown, Calderon, Chavez, Smith, and Bashaw were arrested near Southeast Water Avenue and Interstate 5. Heroux and Croasdill were arrested near Southwest 18th Avenue and Morrison Street.

Brown, Calderon, Heroux, and Croasdill were booked into the Multnomah County Jail. Chavez, Smith and Bashaw were given citations to appear in court.

Health Advisory Lifted November 25 For Devils Lake

The Oregon Health Authority has lifted a health advisory issued August 1 for Devils Lake, located in Lincoln City, Lincoln County.

Water monitoring has confirmed reduced levels of blue-green algae and their toxins. These reduced levels are not likely to be harmful to humans and animals.

Oregon health officials advise people who use Oregon water bodies for recreation to always be alert to signs of harmful algae blooms. People and their pets should avoid contact if the water is foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish-red in color, or if the water has a thick mat of algae with an unpleasant odor.