A News Cut reader asked on Wednesday whether the people in Mumbai are allowed to own guns. The answer, apparently, is "yes," judging by blogger Amitabh Bachchan, who wrote a post the other day that concluded with a single line:
Before retiring for the night, I pulled out my licensed .32 revolver, loaded it and put it under my pillow. For a very disturbed sleep.
Apparently, he got pretty well roasted by some commentators and newspaper types, so he's back with a scathing post today:
When I say that I am ashamed of performing an act I have never enacted before, that of pulling out my gun and putting it under my pillow, it is far far removed from your myopic and small-minded interpretation that I do so out of fear. If I had fear I would not volunteer to walk into the bullet along with the millions of my countrymen.
The act of pulling out my revolver is a symbolic metaphor, a figure of speech, to demonstrate my complete loss in faith in the system and in the governance, in providing me, a citizen of India, with my rightful sense of security. It is to demonstrate that now I shall have to personally look after my family and myself and not depend on the state. A state that is just so miserably incapable of protecting its citizens.
AND.. dear pen-pencil pusher, it is also to state, that the level of my tolerance and belief has been breached to such an extent that, were the perpetrator to mess with me and get close enough, I would not hesitate to use said, revolving, six gun facility !!
I'm haunted by photographer Vinukumar Ranganathan's observation that he tried to get Indian police in the railroad terminal to shoot the few gunmen who were in the process of killing scores of people. They wouldn't. If they won't, who will?
Meanwhile, things in Mumbai are getting (mostly) back to normal.(1 Comments)
Only two pieces of evidence proved that the hardest working person in journalism stopped by today: Tracks in the driveway, and a newspaper on the doorstep... or at least close to it.
Few American workers get as little recognition as the newspaper carrier, a job that -- like newspapers themselves -- may be disappearing. They do their work while we get our beauty sleep.
Even with a lousy economy, this is the worst and best time of the year for the carrier. There's nothing worse than a thick Sunday newspaper and during the Christmas season, the inserts add hundreds of pounds to the carrier's load. The Minnesota winters, of course, are a horrible time to be out on the pre-dawn streets and the unshoveled walkways.
But it's also tip-time, or didn't you notice the Christmas card mixed in with the ads? Occasionally there's a note with it from your carrier. Sometimes they ask for a tip, most of the times they don't. Send them the money.
I worked as a newspaper carrier for 10 years, up until around 2004. I usually don't sleep very well after 3 in the morning and I decided one day I might as well get up and be productive. I delivered the Pioneer Press and Wall St. Journal and here's what I learned that most people don't know:
On one morning, a carrier in the depot had a heart attack while carrying a load of newspapers to his car. He stumbled back inside, collapsed near a door, and died. For over an hour, some supervisors grumbled that his body blocked the door.
But the little old man living in a mostly-senior-citizen complex left a nice note and $3 at the end of every month. I loved that guy and not because of his money. He died a few years ago and I felt like I lost a close friend, even though I only met him once or twice. He left me nice notes, and I'd scribble a message at the top of his morning paper each day.
Judging by the help-wanted section these days, there aren't many carriers needed anymore. In the '90s, the Sunday jobs section was four sections big. Today, the Star Tribune's is four-pages long, and there are no ads in there for newspaper carriers. In a good economy, newspapers have a difficult time recruiting people for a difficult job. In a bad economy, they don't.
The hardest-working person in the news business, is the person who brings you the newspaper.(16 Comments)
By now, perhaps, you've seen the video of the embarrassing moment for auto company executives when they went before a Congressional panel, asking for a $25 billion bailout of their industry a few weeks ago. Members of Congress upbraided the officials for using company jets to fly to Washington.
"There's a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying in to Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hands saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," said Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.) "There's a message there."
"Those type of symbolic things, they really matter, they set a tone," said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.).
"I'm going to ask you to raise your hand if you are planning to sell your jet in place now and fly back commercial. Let the record show, no hands went up," said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California
True enough, and why would they? Who provided the incentive for businesses to make money via tax breaks for buying the jets in the first place?
Ackerman, Roskam, Sherman, and 382 other members of the House who voted for the Economic Stimulus Package of 2008, which carried this section:
(a) In General- Subsection (b) of section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to limitations) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph: `(7) INCREASE IN LIMITATIONS FOR 2008- In the case of any taxable year beginning in 2008-- `(A) the dollar limitation under paragraph (1) shall be $250,000, `(B) the dollar limitation under paragraph (2) shall be $800,000, and `(C) the amounts described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) shall not be adjusted under paragraph (5).'. (b) Effective Date- The amendment made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2007.
Company officials, like the auto industry ones, can expense a new jet up to $250,000 and can also take a 50-percent bonus in depreciation in the first year of ownership. That's a big pile of cash.
At least in this case, the business practices members of Congress criticize are the ones they encouraged in the first place in the name of economic stimulation.(1 Comments)
This one writes itself.
Says the Associated Press:
In the past year, 30 percent of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64 percent have cheated on a test, according to a new, large-scale survey suggesting that Americans are too apathetic about ethical standards.
Educators reacting to the findings questioned any suggestion that today's young people are less honest than previous generations, but several agreed that intensified pressures are prompting many students to cut corners.
Sixty-four percent cheat? There are some standardized tests where the barely 64-percent passed!
ONe of the questions asked kids to respond to the assertion that "in sports, if you're not cheating, you're not trying hard enough." Thirteen percent of boys agreed. But the real question is how what percentage of that percentage is on the team?
Perhaps more disturbing than the numbers is the ease with which some education officials dismissed them. Perhaps it's not really about the "pressures society puts on them."
The survey was done by the Josephine Center at the Institute for Youth Ethics. They were smart enough to ask the kids if they were being honest in answering the questions. Almost 30 percent said "no."(2 Comments)