Thursday, August 18, 2005

Updates & Apologies

     First the apologies: Sorry for my prolonged absence. We were hit by the stupid internet worm, and once it was cleaned out of our network, work was predictably hectic for a few days while we caught up. There are also unrelated "stuffs" happening at work, so my blogging schedule might be erratic (not to be confused with erotic) for a while.
     And now the updates. One of the downsides about blogging about current events is that the known facts change very quickly. For instance, I wrote about Natalee Holloway (Still my #1 searched keyword for my blog) being lost in Aruba. Well, now she's..... Well, she's still lost in Aruba. But other things have changed, and in ways that I feel greatly impact their stories. (None of which had a fraction of the airtime the Aruba case had)
     Update #1: Jean Charles de Menezes was even more innocent than I thought. I wrote about this on July 26. Then, the police had admitted his killing was a mistake, but that he had been running through the subway station, evading police, and wearing a bulky, heavy jacket on a warm summer day. Well, video from the subway station has been released which shows that not only did the police kill an innocent man, but that they lied about him and defamed his character. He was not running through the subway station - he walked leisurely. He stopped to buy a newspaper. He didn't jump over the turnstiles, as the police reported - he paid and walked through. And his suspicious "bulky" jacket? It was a light denim jacket. Commenters, who admittedly did not know these new facts, laid blame at de Menezes' feet, saying he should have known better than to run and evade police in these scary times when terrorism is all around us. Now it seems his only crime was living in the same apartment complex that terrorists chose to hide in. In London, they chose to hide in a poor immigrant neighborhood. In the US, the 9/11 terrorists chose to hide in upper-middle class neighborhoods, including the town in Florida where my parents live and a neighborhood in Atlanta near where I live.
     So here's the issue, again: Are we safer because de Menezes is dead? People said better one innocent than dozens in a terrorist attack. But his killing didn't help prevent others. The terrorists have likely moved on to new targets. Nervous police are still prowling the subways, and not just in London. The house next door to me was for rent recently. What if a prospective terrorist decided to rent there? Can I expect the next time I'm on MARTA to go to a Braves game the APD will gun me down? Why couldn't it happen to you too?
     Update #2: High School students who have limited English skills can't get diplomas. This is nothing earth-shattering, but it's an article I wish had come out before I wrote about Hispanic issues on Monday. My question is, if students can't speak English, do they deserve a high-school diploma? It's hard to find a job without one. (It's hard to find a job with one) But if they can't speak English, how well will they function in jobs that require diplomas anyway? The report did say that students are failing math tests because of their lack of English skills, and fairness should say that's not right. Math is international - the only reason an educated Spanish speaker would fail the math portion is because of an overreliance on word problems or complicated instructions. Either way, it highlights some of the struggles new immigrants have to cope with upon arrival.


Ben said...

I don't think anyone thoguht killing that guy in London made anyone safer. It was an unfortunate mistake, but that doesn't mean the police should stop questioning people who look suspicious, especially in the aftermath of a large terrorist attack that came with warnings of more to come.

It reminds me of recently banned painkillers. Sure, millions of people get relief from Vioxx, but heck, one man had heart problems because of it, so screw those millions of others. This shooting was one bad incident, and it could happen to me, but I still rather have the police out there trying to stop people who want to kill random innocents than have them scared to leave their stations for fear of shooting the wrong person. Obviously the London police need a little training time, but I put the blame squarely on the people that bomb the subway. If not for them, this guy would most certainly be alive.

Scott said...

By that logic you could shoot....anyone - and claim it was because they looked suspicious. If there was nothing suspicious about this guy (and I do find it very disturbing that the police would lie about him jumping turnstiles and evading police) how is it any different than a random drive-by, except that it was by people sworn to uphold law?

Ben said...

Because they made a mistake. Perhaps the ones that did it should be punished, but you seem to think that because of one unfortunate death, we should just give up trying to stop anyone from bombing anything. Personally, as sad as it is to have to say it, I'd rather one person dies than 50 in a bomb. It wasn't Blair or Bush that drove me to say that, it was fascist Islamic bombers. They are the enemy, not the police in London who were just trying to do their jobs.

My logic leads to a bad spot, but your logic leads to handcuffing polie from being able to stop anyone from doing anything. All you've done is whine that one innocent got shopt, but you haven't offered anything close to solution except what? Cops shouldn't carry guns? What if the guy really had been a terrorist, but the cops were hamstringed by policies made by people like you, and so the bad guy killed 50 in a bombing that the cops just sat by and ignored?

Sylvana said...

Ben, how about the police don't shoot anyone unless they are CLEARLY ARMED and/or threatening harm? I think that would be a good solution. Not just shooting anyone that appears to be fleeing them. Your solution seems to be, Yeah, let's shoot first and ask questions later. That seems like lazy policing.

Ben said...

As Scott said, we are now told the guy was not running, and as I said, these guys obviously made a huge error, and should probably be punished (I now amend that to "definitely punished"). I;m not arguing that the cops f-ed this one up big time. What I am arguiong against is that Scott's position seems to be that because of one big screwup, the cops should no longer do anything.

Please find where I said the cops should shoot first and ask questions later. The reread Scott and tell me where he has any solution at all except that the cops shouldn't do anything at all.

Scott said...

Ben, find where I said, "because of one big screwup, the cops should no longer do anything."

What I did say was that the cops should no longer shoot innocent people and then hide behind the excuse that they were fighting terror.

In basketball, blocking a shot is nice and all, but the truth is that by the time your opponent has taken his or her shot, you've either done your job of defense or you haven't. In the GWOT, shooting people in the subway is lovely, but if that's your primary line of defense, you've already lost. By the time terrorists get down to the subway, we've already failed, because the honest truth is you can't search everyone or the entire system -our entire way of life starts crumbling. I have 2500 people working in my building. If we each had to be searched on the way in, it would take hours. At some point we have to trust that the people behind the scenes (INS, FBI, CIA) are doing their jobs.

Shannon said...

If the police shoot obviously innocent people, they're doing the job for the terrorists. The police should've been upfront with their unfortunate mistake to begin with.

That said- I don't think immigrants who don't speak English AND can't demonstrate competancy in the skills one should have in order to get a diploma, should graduate. Lots of immigrants have little or no formal education. Lots are illiterate in their native language and have little training in math. One other barrier is that these immigrants don't know how to learn. In teaching them, I've discovered that many basic things needed for academic sucess, such as process of elimination, need to be taught.

My guess is that an educated Spanish speaker would not fail math.

On a side note- One argument for bilingual education is that students have a hard time learning things, such as math, if they don't understand the concepts-the input needs to be comprehensible. If students can gain the concepts, the logic, and the ability to analyze in at least one language, they'll be more sucessful as language learners. Based on my experience, immigrants from Mexico who have college degrees learn English much faster than people who have a 6th grade education from Mexico.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

The only good news about the de Menezes story is, there have been no repeats. When the story first broke, it was presented as a new police policy. It was reasonable to assume more shootings would follow.

The police seem to have had second thoughts, based on how badly this one turned out. Thank goodness!

Ben said...

Sorry Scott, the assertion that they shouldn't shoot any innocent people is rather obvious. Since you had no helpful suggestions, I inferred that you would prefer the police do nothing.

Sylvana said...

In that instance, Ben, yes, the police should have done nothing. The man was doing nothing wrong.

Ben said...

I agreed with that already. It was an unfortunate mistake, but all y'all have done in complain. No one, except for me, has offered a single suggestion for a solution that would allow police to search for terrorists, and not shoot innocents at the same time. My suggestion is better training, though obviously some mistakes will always crop up. I think this is the same problem that the American people have with the Democratic Party. All they do is complain, but none of them ever seem to come up with any alternatives except "pull out." No plans to deal with the consequences of that, all they do is say Bush sucks, but none present ideas for how they would do a better job at keeping Americans safe.

So Sylvana, you think in that instance the Police should have done nothing. What if next time, in the exact same circumstances, the guy goes on to kill 50 people 5 minutes later. Should they still have done nothing? Shoot first, ask questions later is not a good policy, but neither being so fearful of making a mistake that you don't do you job at all.

Sylvana said...

Unfortunately, some terrorists will get through. But we can't take our own freedoms away just to try and fight the terrorists. Then what have we gained? If we have our own people scared of the police that are supposed to be protecting them, what have we gained?

I also think that Democrats have come up with plenty of solutions. I can hear them loud and clear. I think conservatives just turn a deaf ear to the logic. They act like nothing was said because it doesn't agree with what they would do.