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Story Time

As Earl Pitts says, 'Wake Up America'

Just a few 'quick takes' on what's happening in our world right now:

• Didn't you have to pause and wonder about the values of all those people who camped outside the courthouse in California, who began celebrating and throwing confetti into the air after it was announced that Michael Jackson had been cleared of all child molestation charges? When did we become a society that transgressed where it is acceptable for a 46-year-old man to readily admit that he sleeps with boys? Aggregately, we're a sick bunch. Unfortunately, I don't think the world has a cure for what ails us.

• I'm not a Wal-Mart fan, but I may have to rethink my position after learning that the Washington Education Association recently approved a measure that urges all state teachers to avoid shopping at the mega store. The state teachers group cites Wal-Mart's anti-union, low-wage and low-benefit policies as the reasons to boycott the store. Are the teachers just now learning about Wal-Mart's policies and find them offensive? I doubt it. My hunch is that the boycott is simply a payback for Wal-Mart being one of the prime financial contributors to the recent legislative push to establish charter schools in Washington state. Wal-Mart also has a history of supporting the privatization of schools. The thing I've learned about public school teachers over the years is that if you disagree with them, you're either labeled stupid or you're kept out of the loop. Heaven help anyone who has a different approach to educating our youth.

• How about yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling? More of our rights, or in this case our property, are being taken away from us. The Court ruled, in essence, that our private property belongs to the highest bidder. The ruling, which greatly alters the definition of eminent domain (the legal authority for the government to confiscate private property for public use), makes it legal for municipalities and county governments to take property away from private landowners for any kind of development they see fit, even if the property in question isn't to be used for the general public. Supreme Court Justice Sandra O'Connor, in her written brief, perhaps said it best, "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms." As Dana Berliner, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, said, "It's a dark day for American homeowners." Personally, I think it's just another way for the rich to get richer, and the little guy is made to bear the brunt of their greed. As radio personality Earl Pitts is fond of saying, "WAKE UP AMERICA!"

• The message conveyed by Wednesday's Sunnyside Daybreak Rotary Club speakers was that donations are being used to put on citizenship classes for local Latinos, and more donations are needed to hold more classes. I think citizenship classes are much needed in our Hispanic-influenced community, but someone please explain to me why in Hades those who are taking the classes aren't fully funding these courses. If the first lesson these non-Americans learn is that the first step to becoming a citizen is free of charge, aren't we sending the message that handouts are a way of life here? I don't think I'm alone in believing that if a person wants to become an American citizen, it shouldn't come cheaply. Obviously, there is a time commitment to learning what it takes to become an American citizen, but there should be a financial commitment, as well. Paying for their own citizenship classes is one way for our Latino visitors to demonstrate they truly want to become an American.

• Who wants to bet that more people will turn out for Sunnyside's 4th of July celebration than the thousands who showed up here for the local Cinco de Mayo festival? I'm giving 1,000-to-1 odds to any and all who believe our Independence Day observance will draw a larger crowd than did the Cinco de Mayo fest. I don't think I'm going to get any takers. WAKE UP AMERICA!

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