Last Week, In Case You Missed It: February 26, 2011

How is it that someone has ruled a country for 42 years and there is still no consensus on exactly how to spell Moammar Gaddafi’s name? Qadhafi? Khadafi? Gadhafi? Khadafy? Qaddafi? Khaddafi? Muammar or Moammar? According to Wikipedia, my source for pretty much everything, the U.S. Department of State uses “Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi“, although the White House chooses to use “Muammar el-Qaddafi”. The New York Times uses Muammar el-Qaddafi. The Associated PressCNN, and Fox News use “Moammar Gadhafi”. Well, at least there is something they can agree upon.

We actually didn’t have a whole lot on the self-proclaimed “King of Kings” this week, but we did have a lot of other stuff this week in Oak Ridge Now:

This week we spotlighted Oak Ridge High School cheerleader Serena Bufton-VonArb, who has friends throughout South Montgomery County. “No matter what side of the freeway we are from, we share the same talent and have the same passion for cheerleading. I know these girls will be lifelong friends to me.”

The War Eagle basketball team ended their season with a loss to Klein Forest in the playoffs. Coach Stewart said, “I am very proud of how we continued to play and fight through all of our adversity this season. I have said before that this is the most resilient group of young men that we have had.” The ORHS girls soccer team has also fought through disappointment of late. Coach Collins says, “e still have about one minute out of 80 of head scratching plays that cost us goals and games.”

Baseball season is here, and Doug Sarant promises to document the highs and lows with his Politically Correct Yet Honest ORHS Baseball Blog. [Some of my conversation with Doug yesterday: “You can’t say ‘jagoff”. “How about dickhead?’ “Okay”]

The Oak Ridge High School Color Guard grabbed first place at the Winter Guard Nationals, and they will be heading to beautiful Dayton in April to perform there. Congratulation to them, and good luck in Ohio. ORHS Interact put on a Birthday Party for Dr. Seuss, and the ORHS PTO held its annual Texas Hold ‘Em poker party to raise funds for Operation Graduation. For those of you who don’t know, Operation Graduation is a drug and alcohol-free party held on ORHS graduation night, designed to keep our graduates from becoming grim statistics.

Our weekly recap of local news started us off on Sunday looking back at the appearance of the DEA in Bender’s Landing. With our Texas legislative session in full swing, we had a number of stories coming out of Austin.

The chances are increasing that legislators, loathe to raise taxes, could look at expanded gambling as a source of additional revenue. After all, how much Texas money goes into those nasty casinos in Louisiana? We can do it bigger and better, and reap all the rewards. Polling shows that the vast majority Texans favor this idea, so let’s stop worrying about voter ID and get on with something that actually benefits our daily lives. In no time we can see Night Ranger and Jeff Foxworthy playing the Beau Rivage Galveston.

In other state budget news, Texans want lawmakers to cut the budget, but we don’t agree on the specifics. “We really want to slash the budget, but not anything in it,” says pollster Daron Shaw, a professor of government at UT.  We also looked at the touchy subject of whether or not schools spend too much money on administrative personnel. the venerable Dan Patrick says, “As the old saying goes,” he said, “when I start seeing districts’ firing assistant football coaches, then I’ll really know that they’ll have a lean budget.”

We ran an article about how proposed cuts in mental health funding would move the burden of treating the mentally to local Texas jails. Already, the Harris County Jail, a facility the size of two football fields, houses 10,000 inmates, 2,400 of which are taking psychotropic medications.

One proposed way to reduce the state’s health care costs would be to create programs to distribute sterile syringes to injecting drug users. How would that save money? The average lifetime cost of treating a person with HIV/AIDS is currently estimated to be $380,000. Lifetime costs of treatment for hepatitis C can exceed $300,000. Texas has the fourth-highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the nation, with an estimated 63,000 Texans currently living with HIV, and at least 300,000 with hepatitis C.

Texas has joined other states in asking to operate the mandated Medicaid program as they see fit. That’s not likely to happen. Finally, a half-dozen men who spent decades behind bars, convicted of crimes they did not commit, pleaded with lawmakers to improve the reliability of eyewitness identifications used in court. All of them were sent to prison based largely on the testimony of witnesses who incorrectly fingered them in photographs and lineups.

Remember the foreclosure prevention program of a couple of years ago? it was going to save millions of homeowners from the brink of foreclosure. That didn’t work. Why? The loan industry that helped bring on the problem is largely in charge of trying to fix it. Dafna Linzer, a Canadian living in the U.S. for 12 years, details the questionable correct answers on the U.S. citizenship test she recently passed.

If you haven’t discovered our Lost in Suburbia feature yet, give it a read, as it is guaranteed to draw a laugh or two every time. This week Tracy Beckerman recounts the horror a awaking one morning with a zit in the middle of your forehead. “Greetings,” said my daughter, giving me the Vulcan hand wave.  “Do you come in peace?”

Teresa Strasser can now root for Natalie Portman to win an Oscar, because Princess Amidala is soon to join the ranks of motherhood. “Motherhood is such an equalizer that even the Black Swan will likely get cankles, varicose veins, bleeding gums, gas, leg cramps and insomnia. No way can she assign the hemorrhoids or any of the rest of it to a personal assistant or publicist. That baby will have to come out of her one way or the other.”

My wife was not at all impressed with the Usual Eccentric’s woeful tale of walking around all day with his zipper down. “At some point, you must have noticed, and yet you spoke not a word. You probably just giggled like a schoolgirl after I walked away with a “get-a-load-of-this-guy-over-here” look on your face. Yeah, that’s real mature, butthead!”

Unknown Soldiers told the story of a mom who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to equal a feat that her son, killed later in Afghanistan, once accomplished. “Come hell or high water, I was going to do it myself,”

Dave Ramsey answered a query about a son putting away money for a dad who cannot seem to manage his own, and Dear Margo featured a man who is worried that his best friend and his girlfriend are seeing the same therapist, and a woman who just wants to see her grandchildren. Not just the ones her kids want her to see.

In our opinions section, we wished everyone a Happy President’s Day. No matter how we feel about the Executive Branch, the governments in the Middle East should cause us all to pause for a moment. “There is not another country that is in existence now or has ever been that can point to such a long line of greatly admired leaders such as Washington, Lincoln or even Truman who were elected into office and never tried to stay longer than their official term.”

Bill O’Reilly examined a politically incorrect gaffe by Michael Bloomberg, and Mark Shields profiled Mitt Romney as a guy who can’t seem to take a firm stand on a position: “Mitt Romney is smart, handsome, accomplished, rich, personable and articulate. That’s what he is. What we don’t yet know is who he is.” John Stossel wonders why we a legally prevented from betting on the Academy Awards. Chuck Norris sees teachers’ unions and the federal government as a detriment to our children’s education, explaining that we have gone from spending $4,300 per student in 1971 to more than $9,000 today (adjusted for inflation), and there’s not a lot to show for it. Finally, Will Durst looks at the 112th Congress, and wonders if they’ll ever reach a budget agreement. “President Obama released HIS budget plan, which calls for tens of billions of dollars of program cuts mixed with tax increases. The Republicans countered with THEIR plan specifying nine figures of cuts only, and Ron Paul, well, he just wants to invade China, give them a proper thrashing and take all our money back.”

It was indeed a busy week. All that, along with our editorial cartoons, in one week of Oak Ridge Now. Read us. Like us. Share our articles on Facebook.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

More Posts - Website