Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09
A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit? - 7-24-08
Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls" - 10-26-07
"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.
August 21, 2008
The Chinese have been caught lying to—or at least misleading—hundreds of millions of television viewers as they host the Olympic games designed, from the Chinese point of view, not to bring together the best athletes from around the world but rather to improve China’s image in the world view.
The shabby trick of having their national anthem lip-synced as the highlight of the opening ceremonies has been brought to world attention—lip-synced by a particularly attractive girl while the real singer was out of sight because, of all things, her teeth weren’t attractive.
Then there is the use of at least three clearly underage gymnasts to help the Chinese women’s team win their first team gold in Olympic history. Evidence was produced a few months ago suggesting that three of the young athletes were no older than 13 or 14. (Some of them look to be about 10.)
But the Chinese came up with “Olympic passports”—whatever those are—reporting every girl on the team was at least the required 16 years of age. How hard do you think it would be, in communist China, to produce an Olympic passport which lies?
But the Chinese may have been getting away with the biggest scam of all; i.e., little or no mention of the fact that the atmospheric conditions in which the games are being performed has been massively temporarily sanitized so that it is not at all representative of the pollution which normally hangs over Beijing and other major Chinese cities—pollution which results from coal-fired industrial plants and exhaust-spuming motor vehicles.
To produce the relatively—I stress “relatively”—smog-free atmosphere for the Olympics, the Chinese dictatorship employed Draconian measures; i.e., shutting down production from coal-burning plants within Shanghai and the surround area and banning most civilian vehicles from entering Beijing during the period leading up to and including the Olympic games.
If the polluted-air deception was simply another Chinese gimmick to make themselves look good to the world during the Olympic telecast, it would dishonest but not of lasting significance. But this particular deception attempts to mask the fact that China is currently producing increasing pollution of the atmosphere faster than any other country on the globe. Pollution-spewing coal-burning plants continue to be built at record rates. (India has played a role in increasing worldwide atmosphere pollution with its industrial growth, too, but China is far and away the major culprit.
Yet China gets a relatively free pass from environmental extremists like former Vice President Al Gore—extremists who concentrate on things America should do to reduce its air polluting emissions.
Surely the United States should be doing more. But the Chinese and to the lesser extent the Indians are getting a relatively free ride. You hear the argument, from some Chinese officials, that western countries like the United States “had your industrial revolution, now let us have ours and then we’ll do more to control atmospheric pollution.”
The television commentators whom I have listened to have treated the Chinese air pollution scandal scarcely at all, even when outside shots of Beijing and outdoor Olympic sites have evidence of pollution. Perhaps as close as any TV commentator has come to the issue was a reference by an NBC commentator that a particular day’s outdoor events were the first held in a clear atmosphere.
So far as global air pollution and global warming are concerned—problems which a good many nations including the United States should be addressing more effectively—the Beijing Olympics may have done substantial harm, to the extent that they have left the impression that skies over Beijing and the rest of China are relatively pollution free and western complaints aren’t justified.
The real Tiananmen Square in Beijing before the temporary “facelift” for the Olympic Games
* * *
Amidst all the discussion of whether the Omaha Royals use the new downtown Omaha ballpark, or move to a new smaller stadium which would be built in Sarpy County in the Papillion/LaVista area or move to some other city, there seems to me to be a major question that no news media representative that I’m aware of has thought to ask:
What are the views of the Kansas City Royals? The major league Royals are, after all, the suppliers of the baseball players without whom you can’t operate a successful AAA franchise no matter how much fun and games and hoopla the team offers.
I believe all parties agree that the long-standing Omaha Royals/Kansas City Royals working agreement has been beneficial to both teams. A very important element—perhaps the most important—is that the two cities are reasonably close, so that a working agreement that provides Kansas City Royals talent to the Omaha ball club is convenient and helps create an Omaha-area Kansas City Royals fan base.
I’m told that major league clubs prefer to have such working arrangements—or farm clubs outright owned by the major league club—reasonably close to the city where the major league franchise is located. In this respect, the Omaha and Kansas City linkage has been a good one for a good many years.
So—although no one has, to my knowledge, publicly acknowledged this—the Kansas City Royals have an important stake in where the so-called Omaha franchise might wind up.
One news story mentioned Vancouver, Canada, as a possible site for the AAA franchise now located in Omaha.
Another city mentioned as possibly interested in the current Omaha franchise was Sugarland, Texas within the figurative shadow of the Houston Astros franchise. And Tucson, Arizona, also mentioned, is figuratively in the shadow of the Phoenix major league franchise. Tucson also is not known as “a good baseball town.”
It’s hard to imagine the Kansas City Royals preferring a link to an AAA franchise in Vancouver, Tucson or a Houston suburb.
What are the best chances for keeping a Royals franchise in Omaha, despite the fact that the Royals are no longer part of a Rosenblatt Stadium/Omaha Royals/College World Series combination which was deemed essential—and mutually beneficial—for so many years?
I don’t accept the conclusion that the Royals and the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority (MECA) simply won’t be able to reach agreement on satisfactory accommodations for the Royals to move to the new downtown ballpark. Both sides have said that they are still open for further discussions.
Most attractive to the Kansas City Royals, I would think, would be continuing the Omaha linkage, downtown or even in a newly-constructed Sarpy County ballpark in the Papillion/LaVista area—which is certainly part of the Omaha metropolitan area.
A not insignificant question: What would be the name of the ball team located in a Sarpy County park? All the parties involved in the negotiations might take into account a decision made by a very successful business entrepreneur, John Q. Hammons of Springfield, Missouri, in the naming of his new Embassy Suites hotel to be located in LaVista.
The hotel is to be called the “Embassy Suites Omaha/LaVista.” Mr. Hammons clearly sees the importance of having potential customers know that the LaVista location has the advantage of being part of all the attractions of the much larger Omaha metropolitan area.
But, after all the talk about moving the franchise to Vancouver in Canada or LaVista in Sarpy County, I wouldn’t bet against the Royals—after some concessions by both parties—playing their home games in that new park in downtown Omaha.
* * *
Good news indeed in the fact that serious efforts are under way to offer more help to the homeless in Douglas, Pottawattamie and Sarpy counties.
The news story gave no breakout as to where most of the homeless are—not as many in numbers as some reports have led people to believe, in my opinion. But presumably the large majority of the homeless are living in or near downtown Omaha.
The news story says a survey was done during the annual homeless count in January, involving 224 people of the more than 2,000 on the streets and in shelters in the three countries.
Then came the kind of “survey” standards which I often find questionable: We are told that more than 40% of those interviewed said they had been homeless at least a year or experienced four or more “episodes” of homelessness in the past three years.
The federal government’s definition of “chronic homelessness” is people who have described themselves as homeless at least a year or have experienced four or more “episodes” of homelessness in the past three years. There was no indication of how many of those interviewed were homeless by choice and no definition of what constitutes an “episode” of homelessness.
In any case, it was good to read that the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless plans for to try to place homeless people in permanent housing. The Omaha Housing Authority and others are involved in discussions about providing more options for the homeless. There are also plans to prevent homelessness.
Importantly, the plans include measures designed to attract the homeless to facilities located outside the heart of downtown Omaha.
* * *
Clever headlines lure readers, and World-Herald headline writers for years have done a splendid job of this.
But occasionally a headline creates an image which is more clever than accurate, as in this recent example:
“Racers will kick up dust in Sand Hills.”
The story, picked up from The North Platte Telegraph, began: “The road north of Arnold is already smoking, as many of the 120 drivers registered for the Sandhills Open Road Race take practice runs on the 29 mile route between Arnold and Dunning, a challenging stretch that combines a mix of twists and turns, with only an occasional straightaway.”
It so happens that there are 29 miles of paved highway between Arnold and Dunning. The race may indeed have been an exciting one, but the chance of it kicking up Sand Hills dust was quite remote, unless one or more of the racers lost control and left the paved roadway.
# # #