Posted at 7:16 AM on September 30, 2009
by Bob Collins
1) Warning! Geekology ahead. Researchers have determined that a 'time telescope' could dramatically speed up the Web. In the future, the letter from the deposed Nigerian dictator could reach you even before there's been a coup.
2) Spending any amount of time with the news these days will convince you we're just not the people we were. But maybe we are. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission has just released its latest list of honorees. Roll your mouse over any of the names and click.
Take this randomly selected honoree:
Bruce A. Baxter rescued Mary E. Newman from burning, Petaluma, California, December 22, 2008. Newman, 87, was in the living room of her doublewide mobile home after an accidental fire broke out in that room. Her next-door neighbor, Baxter, 58, accountant, was alerted to the fire by the structure's smoke alarm. He responded to the scene, gained entry through the front door, and saw Newman, whose attire was aflame, sitting on a couch in the far end of the living room. He crossed the smoky room to her, lifted her from the couch, and patted out the flames on her attire. Grasping her, Baxter ushered her to the front door and outside to safety as flames spread quickly to engulf that end of the mobile home, destroying it. Newman was hospitalized for treatment of severe burns and died of her injuries two months later.
What's this "we" stuff? Tom Friedman writes in his column today:
Our leaders, even the president, can no longer utter the word "we" with a straight face. There is no more "we" in American politics at a time when "we" have these huge problems -- the deficit, the recession, health care, climate change and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- that "we" can only manage, let alone fix, if there is a collective "we" at work.
Maybe we just need a day -- or a week or a year -- without politics, which is the new Hollywood. Maybe we should have a day -- or a week or a year -- when we call in radio talk shows and talk about people who die trying to save people from their burning mobile homes instead.
3) The Internet is stepping up -- again -- in providing first-person coverage of the tsunami in American Samoa.
4) You've probably seen this video by now. Hugh Jackman rips an audience member whose cellphone goes off in the middle of his performance.
I think it's fake, perhaps a stunt to drum up publicity for a play. The phone rings several times. Wouldn't most people shut it off after one or two rings? And how is it someone is videotaping the play at the moment of the incident? Plus, there were better ways to press the point, the Guardian says. Whatever. It worked.
Discussion point: What's the most thoughtless abuse of cellphones you've encountered?
Today's Question: When is texting appropriate?
Meanwhile, support seems to be building for a nationwide ban of 'texting' while driving. A two-day "summit" begins today in Washington. Question: If you ban "texting" while driving, aren't you also banning dialing while driving? Isn't it the same thing, you push buttons on your phone. Why not just ban cellphones altogether?
5) 101 historical moments you can re-live on YouTube. I have to admit, though, I've never considered "The O'Reilly Factor" a historical moment. Hysterical, perhaps. Not historical.
WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Minnesota is one of several states vetting a new set of English and math standards all students should master before graduating high school. Advocates hope this is the first step toward national education standards, an idea critics say is bound to fail.
Second hour: To what extent can scientists challenge prevailing assumptions, transform their fields, and ask bold questions without losing credibility? Audacity has its cost, but is it a necessary part of doing good science?
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: This week marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Carleton College international relations professor Roy Grow joins Midday to discuss the history of China, and how it's changed over the past six decades.
Second hour: TBD
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: The Political Junkie with talk about David Patterson and Sarah Palin.
Second hour: Empathy is hard to come by when you're in a war, and when you're fighting the A Newsweek feature offers insight into the men behind the cause-- one fighter confesses he weeps in his sleep, another describes being in the Taliban as like
wearing a "Jacket of Fire."
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR's series on national parks and monuments continues. Today: Grand Portage. This monument site is a testament to the intersection of American Indians with voyageurs and the beginnings of the fur trade. It's the only monument located within an Indian reservation. Bob Kelleher has the story.
Tangent-time: Most interesting tweet of the morning:
NPR's David Schaper reports many people in Chicago would like to see the Olympics go anywhere but there. Me? I'm waiting for someone to start tracking organized crime activity to try to get some of the cash that tends to pour into Olympic cities. And what better city than Chicago?
Back when the Northwest-Delta merger was announced, a lot of the questions being posted on News Cut were from pilots of the regional carriers involved -- Mesaba, Pinnacle, and Comair.
A few years later, it's becoming clear: More business for the regional airlines.
The blog Things in the Sky has noticed that some of Mesaba's jets have been moved to Atlanta. Some former Northwest and Delta routes are being flown by the regional carriers now (the planes are all gussied up to look like Delta , but they're not Delta.
Many of the flights from Minneapolis St. Paul to the Northeast are also now being flown by regional carries, using smaller jets.
But it's still not a great time to be an airline pilot (or any other airline employee) whether you're flying for a legacy carrier, a regional, or a no-frills airline, according to the Department of Transportation. The agency reports a 5.9% decline in employment at the airlines. The number jumps to 6.9% at regional carriers.
Ronald Bradley is seeing first-hand the difficulties American soldiers are having getting treatment for the post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) they suffered as a result of their service in Iraq.
Bradley, an attorney and friend of the family, is trying to keep Marine Pvt. Travis Hafterson, 21, alive long enough to get him some treatment, but Hafterson has fallen into the hands of the military justice system, which he thinks may be more interested in punishing Hafterson than treating him.
By all accounts, Hafterson, a Circle Pines native with two tours of duty in Iraq, needs treatment in a hurry. A girlfriend says he slept with a gun under his pillow, and still has flashbacks of the cries of people he killed, and colleagues who died next to him.
He also has talked about committing suicide numerous times. Saying he doesn't want to live, doesn't deserve to live. He calls himself a murderer and speaks of countless innocent people he believes he killed, women and children included. He has talked about suicide countless times, but there are two times where I literally had to take his gun out of his hand because he felt it easier to shoot himself than to live with his conscience.
Hafterson's legal problems started during his second tour. "He was experiencing problems that are classically associated with PTSD, he was self-medicating with marijuana so he could sleep," according to Bradley. When he admitted marijuana use, he was court martialed and sent back to Camp LeJeune in North Carolina.
He was granted a leave in August but his orders changed at the last minute. "I think he had already started going away and instead of going back, he didn't go in right away," Bradley said. The Marines have a word for that: Desertion.
When Hafterson arrived in Minnesota last week, his mother called Bradley for help."We arranged to get him his psychiatric evaluation and he spent a good part of Saturday being interviewed. The doctor made his report and found and substantiated PTSD," Bradley said. Working through another lawyer, Hafterson contacted the combat stress officer -- a psychiatric nurse and highly regarded expert on PTSD -- at Fort Snelling and arranged for Hafterson to turn himself in on Monday.
He let the officer, Lt. Col. Cynthia Rasmussen, know they were coming in an e-mail:
I am the attorney for Private Travis Hafterson, USMC. My client has been evaluated and been diagnosed with PTSD by Dr. Peter E. Meyers. Private Hafterson is currently AWOL from the Corps, and is possibly classified as a deserter. His absence is just over 30 days from his Order to Report.
Private Travis Allyn Hafterson wishes to report and surrender to you at Ft. Snelling about 13:30-14:00 today at your office. He will be escorted by the following persons:
Ronald Robert Bradley, attorney
Dr. Peter E. Meyers, psychologist
Terri Lee Bradley, psychologist
Jamie Joyce Hafterson, mother
I understand that you will contact the front gate and let the guards know of our expected arrival. We will report to Bldg. 506, and I will call if there is any problem finding your office.
"The understanding was he was going to get the appropriate treatment, being referred to the VA (Veteran's Administration) or work with him for the Marines. We understood and he was told that he would suffer consequences for not returning to LeJeune right away," Bradley said. A military ombudsman was to meet him and escort him through the process, balancing treatment with the military justice system.
It didn't work out that way. A check at the gate revealed the federal warrant, Air Force security was called, and Hafterson was taken away. Bradley said the combat stress officer was apologetic and said it wasn't supposed to happen that way, but there was nothing she could do. The Marines had Hafterson and Bradley is worried they're more interested in punishing him than treating him first.
Hafterson is being held at the Ramsey County adult detention center.
"It seems like it's going to be exacerbating his problem because he doesn't have the therapy to work this through. I'm worried he's a danger to himself," he said.
He was on suicide watch on Monday, but was taken off it on Tuesday, against the wishes of the combat stress officer. The Marines are expected to return him to Camp Lejeune
"There seem to be kind of blinders on that they go forward with the criminal and ignore everything else," Bradley said. "The punishment will come at some point, but they have to recognize and triage and say, 'OK right now the most important thing is his well being, but first we gotta make sure the kid doesn't kill himself.'"
Bradley says he's been assured by some in the military that Hafterson will get treatment, but he's not convinced. "Because of the (marijuana) use, he was supposed to have chemical dependency treatment but when I talked to the chaplain's office at Camp Lejeune, he said, 'We do not have chemical dependency treatment for active-duty servicemen.' They recognize certain problems but they don't do anything about them."
Bradley has filed a petition in Ramsey County to get Hafterson immediate treatment. "The problem is at any given time the Corps could show up to take him away, and then we don't know what will happen," he said.
As of late Wedneday, Lt. Col. Rasmussen had not responded to a message for comment.
After Lance Cpl. Travis Hafterson returned from his first tour of duty in Iraq in April 2008, he wore his dress blue Marine uniform to church in Circle Pines with pride. Then he went to a brunch where someone, apparently an opponent of the war, called him "a piece of shit," his mother, Jamie, recalled today. "I found him curled up in the fetal position in his bedroom just bawling," she said. His dress blues were in a pile on a corner. She knew he needed help. He knew he needed help. Instead, the Marines sent him back to Iraq for a second tour of duty last March.
Jamie Hafterson's son is a killer. She doesn't want him to be his next target.
Hafterson's son, who has post traumatic stress syndrome, is sitting in a Ramsey County jail on charges of desertion (See my earlier post) from the U.S. Marine Corps. His mother says a jail guard asked him this week, "Are you the deserter?" Then he called him "a chickenshit," she says.
His mother and the rest of now-Pvt. Hafterson's family are trying to get him treatment for PTSD. The military apparently has other ideas.
After her son returned from Iraq a year and a half ago, Mrs. Hafterson moved to Virginia to try to get help for her son. "I had to. In my heart, I knew he was going to die," she told me this afternoon. She says every morning, dozens of Marines like him missed reveille to line up for access to psychiatric help. Each day, only five or six would get help. The rest, she says, went on report for missing reveille.
"He watched as an Iraqi police member opened the door of the house, only to have the back of his head explode from enemy fire. He tossed a grenade into the home. ... Though (the enemy) had lost limbs, he was still alive. So Hafterson had no choice but to kill him with a knife through the throat."
For Hafterson, it was just another day in Iraq; another nightmare to have later.
After his second tour this year and a court martial on marijuana charges, Hafterson was put in an undeployable unit. "It's a battalion of people with PTSD and criminals," his mother said. "And everybody's forgotten about them."
Hafterson's odyssey to Minnesota in the last month began after the Marines, rather than treat him for his illness, asked him to re-enlist and be deployed -- again -- to Iraq or Afghanistan, his mother says. Hafterson said he would if he could be reunited with his former unit. The Marines said "no." Hafterson left for Minnesota, unaware, his mother says, that his leave had been canceled. The Marines had apparently reneged on promises to provide him with chemical dependency treatment.
"He's a trained killer," his mother says. "He didn't have to go into the infantry. He didn't have to 'run point.' And then to put him in a job cleaning offices. He came back to find Travis. He felt lost and betrayed. He was here to try to get treatment."
When he turned himself in at Fort Snelling on Monday, he was arrested and sent to Ramsey County's adult detention center. "The next time you see me, I'll be in 12 pieces," he yelled to his mother. He was referring to the fate of a friend in Iraq, who was killed by a roadside bomb.
She says her son has "been belittled" by the Marines since trying to get help. "He was told, 'You're just trying to milk the government by getting a disability check,'" she said.
She spent most of the day on Wednesday on the phone to anyone who might be able to get him treatment. Calls to politicians -- she lives in Rep. Michele Bachmann's district -- haven't been returned. She tried Rep. John Kline, a veteran, and was told he couldn't help because she didn't live in his district. She says she even ran around a golf course today because she'd heard there was someone there playing golf who knew an elected representative who might help.
"There are lots of services here for veterans," she says she's found out today, "but nothing for active duty personnel."
The family is worried the Marine Corps will take him back to Camp LeJeune and he'll be swallowed up in the military justice system, where he'll end up killing himself. Instead, they're asking a Ramsey County judge to provide a civil commitment to a psychiatric facility here, but a conference on the request won't be held until Monday.
His mother hasn't told him yet that his unit returned from Iraq this week.(8 Comments)