Saturday, May 20, 2006

Let's Investigate

I want to know where all the real investigative reporting has gone. Dateline - I know that your "To Catch a Predator" has done good work, but how many episodes do we really need? Do we really need more celebrity interviews (usually when he or she has a movie opening) or murder mysteries? As for local news - can we cut back a bit on weather stories and cover another news story or two?

I would like to see an investigation of gas prices that doesn't whitewash the oil companies. I would like to see an investigation of why property taxes are so high (I believe NJ has the highest in the country) yet the state and almost all municipalities and school districts have budget crises. I want an investigation of what is happening with our civil liberties. I want real answers as to what went on with this domestic spying business. I also want an investigation into the implications of RFID technology for us and our privacy as consumers.

I want investigations into secret prisons and torture that will be covered in the mainstream press as well as nightly news and not be brushed off. We cannot turn away from facing up to what the U. S. has done that would betray the freedom and values we preach.

I want an investigation as to why social mobility in this nation is stagnating. A recent report said that such mobility in the U. S. has declined. That means someone born poor usually will remain poor; someone born wealthy usually will stay wealthy. I want an investigation on this and on why and how the middle class is being squeezed. Some reporters from the Philadelphia Inquirer did a series on the squeezed middle class some years ago. You don't see much about this topic in the mainstream media much anymore.

I want an investigation as to what we're doing or not doing to help the situation in Darfur. BTW, did anyone see the reports of the recent rally for Darfur held in Washington, DC? Some of the faculty and students from my college attended. I observed (and this was echoed by one of those faculty members) that I thought the only reason that rally got any coverage on the evening news that night was that George Clooney was one of the main speakers.

I want an investigation as to what stories we're seeing are not really news stories at all, but promotional videos furnished by either the government or businesses with something to sell. I'd read about this and really didn't take it to heart until I recently saw a "health" report which I believe to have been such a video.

Those are a few ideas for starters. Maybe if we do less coverage of celebrity gossip and promotion of network programs on the news, we'd have a bit of air time for such stories. The next challenge would be to get people to tear themselves away from American Idol for the five minutes it would take to make themselves aware of such issues.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Stand Up Against Spying

I know it's been quite a while since the last post, so I hope some of you are still out there. It's been a very hectic spring and things are just slowing down enough for me to vent about the latest outrage, the fact that the NSA has collected phone records on millions of Americans.

What kind of country are we becoming? Sometimes I feel like shouting to people: Why aren't you outraged? Why don't you see the dangerous road we're headed down when privacy and civil liberties are given such little regard? I just don't understand why we're letting our officials get away with this. War on terror? Homeland Security? I don't buy it for one moment. Anyone still under the illusion that the administration really wants to protect us better remember that proposed Dubai Ports deal.

Yes, this collection of phone records should have every single one of us infuriated. Even if no names were given the NSA, they would be easily figured out, according to experts. And once that happens, they could find out lots and lots about you (or yours truly - that I most frequently call my friend, my cousin, and my place of employment). OK so I'm law abiding and my life is rated probably - well, let's just say that it's NOT rated R - but that's not the point. The point is that the government should have NO business snooping on law-abiding citizens, with no suspicion the specific person has done anything wrong, without a warrant or any kind of court order.

We all need to stand up and to urge Congress to stand up and demand an end to such practices. You can go to the ACLU website and sign a petition to the phone companies to tell them to stop cooperating with the program (I did and I also wrote directly to my phone company, Verizon). The site also has a link to find the phone numbers of your Senators. They suggest you call them and urge them to cut funding for this program until more answers are forthcoming. They also suggest you urge them to oppose S. 2453 and S. 2455 which would effectively reward this highly questionable program.

Please take action; we can not just stand by and be apathetic. We must stand up for civil liberties NOW.