09/02/05 08:39 - 76ºF - ID#28163
BEHIND THE HEADLINES
Katrina is case where laxity cost dearly
The colossal disaster still unfolding begs this question: How did the nation's leaders and its citizens allow it to happen?
By RON FOURNIER
WASHINGTON - At every turn, political leaders failed Katrina's victims. They didn't strengthen the levees. They ceded the streets to marauding looters. They left dead bodies to rot or bloat. Thousands suffered or died for lack of water, food and hope. Who's at fault?
There's plenty of blame to go around - the White House, Congress, federal agencies, local governments, police and even residents of the Gulf Coast who refused orders to evacuate. But all the finger-pointing misses the point: Politicians and the people they lead too often ignore danger signs until a crisis hits.
It wasn't a secret that levees built to keep New Orleans from flooding could not withstand a major hurricane, but government leaders never found the money to fully shore up the network of earthen, steel and concrete barriers.
Both the Bush and Clinton administrations proposed budgets that low-balled the needs. Local politicians grabbed whatever money they could and declared victory. And the public didn't exactly demand tax increases to pay for flood-control and hurricane-protection projects.
Just last year, the Army Corps of Engineers sought $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans. The White House slashed the request to about $40 million. Congress finally approved $42.2 million, less than half of the agency's request.
Yet the lawmakers and Bush agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-laden highway bill that included more than 6,000 pet projects for lawmakers. Congress spent money on dust control for Arkansas roads, a warehouse on the Erie Canal and a $231 million bridge to a small, uninhabited Alaskan island.
How could Washington spend $231 million on a bridge to nowhere - and not find another $62 million for hurricane and flood projects in New Orleans? It's a matter of power and politics.
Alaska is represented by Republican Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, a senior member of the all-important Senate Appropriations Committee. Louisiana's delegation holds far less sway.
Once the hurricane hit, relief trickled into the Gulf Coast. Even Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown, whose agency is in charge of disaster response, pronounced the initial results unacceptable.
The hurricane was the first major test of FEMA since it became part of the Homeland Security Department, a massive new bureaucracy that many feared would make FEMA another sluggish federal agency.
Looting soon broke out as local police stood by. Some police didn't want to stop people from getting badly needed food and water. Others seemed to be overwhelmed. Thousands of National Guard troops were ordered to the Gulf Coast, but their ranks have been drastically thinned by the war in Iraq.
On top of all this, Katrina is one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the United States. The best leaders running the most efficient agencies would have been sharply challenged.
"Look at all they've had to deal with," former President Bill Clinton told CNN shortly after joining former President George H.W. Bush on a fund-raising campaign for hurricane relief. "I'm telling you, nobody ever thought it would happen like this."
That's not true. Experts had predicted for years that a major hurricane would eventually hit New Orleans, swamping the levees and filling the bowl-shaped city with polluted water. The politicians are doing what they do in time of crisis - shifting the blame.
"The truth will speak for itself," Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said of potential lapses by government. Later, her office blamed the White House for budget cuts.
If it's not the Republicans' fault, perhaps some in Washington would like to blame New Orleans itself. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., questioned whether a city that lies below sea level should be rebuilt. "That doesn't make sense to me," he said.
But for anybody living - or dying - in the devastated region, there are far too many villains to name.
"We're out here like pure animals. We don't have help," the Rev. Issac Clark, 68, said outside the New Orleans Convention Center.
Robin Lovin, ethics professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said it's too convenient to blame one branch of government when they are all, at some level, failing people. From Watergate to Clinton's impeachment, governmental institutions have disappointed the public.
"Bush, Congress, the mayor - each of them are symptoms of a bigger problem, that we don't have accountability for disasters or challenges of this scale," Lovin said. "That's all the public wants in trying times - accountability."
Thus, Americans are doing what people do when government lets them down - they're turning to each other. Donations are pouring into charities. Internet sites are being used to find relatives. Residents of far-off states are opening their homes to victims.
The community spirit is reminiscent of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. So is the second-guessing. It will happen again after the next crisis. You've heard the warnings: a cataclysmic California earthquake, another terrorist strike, a flu pandemic, a nuclear plant meltdown, a tsunami, the failure to address mounting U.S. debt - and on and on.
Will the public and its leaders be better prepared next time?
Location: Buffalo, NY
08/30/05 09:09 - 73ºF - ID#28162
Aug 30, 2005 11:28 AM
Subject: show planned for tomorrow is now next week
Location: Buffalo, NY
08/29/05 06:43 - 78ºF - ID#28161
'.xxx' marks the spot
Will a virtual red-light district help parents curb online pornography?
By ANICK JESDANUN
Illustration by DANIEL ZAKROCZEMSKI/Buffalo News
Click to view larger picture
With their computers in front of them, members of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet's key oversight body, meet to oversee the administration of domain names such as .biz, .museum and possibly .xxx.
NEW YORK - A red-light district is being considered for construction on the Internet - the ".xxx" domain. This virtual location is being billed by backers as giving the $12 billion online porn industry a great opportunity to clean up its act.
A distinct online sector for the salacious, one with rules aimed at forbidding trickery, will reduce the chances of Internet users accidentally stumbling on porn sites, they argue.
If only it were so simple:
Zoning in cyberspace has always been a daunting proposition, and participation in the porn domain will be voluntary. Critics wonder why ".xxx" got the OK at all when so many other proposals sit unaddressed, some for years.
Nearly five years after rejecting a similar proposal, the Internet's key oversight body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), voted 6-3 in June to proceed with ".xxx."
But acknowledging "unprecedented" opposition, the U.S. government has asked the Internet's key oversight agency to delay approval of a new ".xxx" domain name for one month.
Michael D. Gallagher, assistant secretary for communications and information at the Commerce Department, stopped short of urging its rejection, but he called on ICANN to "ensure the best interests of the Internet community as a whole are fully considered."
The department received nearly 6,000 letters and e-mails expressing concerns about the impact of pornography on families and children and objecting to setting aside a domain suffix for it, he said.
"The volume of correspondence opposed to creation of a .xxx TLD (domain name) is unprecedented," Gallagher wrote to Vinton Cerf, ICANN's chairman.
Gallagher said ICANN should take more time to evaluate those concerns.
The chairman of ICANN's Government Advisory Committee, Mohd Sharil Tarmizi, also wrote ICANN officials urging delay and expressing "a strong sense of discomfort" among many countries, which he did not name.
Gallagher's comments, however, carry greater weight because his agency has veto power over ICANN decisions given the U.S. government's role in funding early developing of the Internet and selecting ICANN in 1998 to oversee domain name administration.
ICANN officials had no immediate comment.
The market unquestionably exists: Two in five Internet users visited an adult site in April, according to tracking by comScore Media Metrix. The company said 4 percent of all Web traffic and 2 percent of all surfing time involved an adult site.
A Florida company, ICM Registry Inc., proposed ".xxx" as a mechanism for the online porn industry to clean up its act. All sites using ".xxx" would be required to follow yet-to-be-written "best practices" guidelines, such as prohibitions against trickery through spamming and malicious scripts.
Use of ".xxx" would be voluntary, however.
As envisioned, ICM would charge $60 for each of up to 500,000 names it expects to register, $10 of which would go to a nonprofit organization that would, among other things, educate parents about safe surfing for children.
The nonprofit, run by representatives of adult Web sites, free-speech, privacy and child-advocacy concerns, would determine registration eligibility.
Skeptics argue, however, that porn sites are likely to keep their existing ".com" storefronts, even as they set up shop in the new ".xxx" domain name. And that will reduce the effectiveness of software filters set up to simply block all ".xxx" names.
The ".xxx" domain "legitimizes this group, and it gives false hope to parents," said Patrick Trueman, senior legal counsel at the Family Research Council and a former Justice Department official in charge of obscenity prosecutions.
The adult entertainment industry is also hardly behind ".xxx" as a group. Many of its webmasters consider the domain "the first step toward driving the adult Internet into a ghetto very much like zoning laws have driven adult stores into the outskirts," said Mark Kernes, senior editor at the trade monthly Adult Video News.
ICM insists it would fight any government efforts to compel its use by adult Web sites, but the existence of ".xxx" would certainly make the prospect easier.
"There are going to be pressures" to mandate it once available, said Marjorie Heins, coordinator of the Free Expression Policy Project at New York University's law school. Federal lawmakers have proposed such requirements in the past.
Robert Corn-Revere, a lawyer hired by ICM to address free-speech issues, said the company has pledged $250,000 for a legal defense fund to keep ".xxx" voluntary, and he notes that courts have struck down efforts to make movie ratings mandatory.
"Where governments have tried to use private labeling systems as proxies for regulation, courts have always held those measures unconstitutional," he said.
Even if it's voluntary, supporters say, adult sites will have incentives to use ".xxx."
"If the carrot's big enough, you're going to get sites in there," said Parry Aftab, an Internet safety expert who served as an informal adviser on ".xxx."
Stuart Lawley, ICM's chairman and president, said use of ".xxx" could protect companies from prosecution under a 2003 federal law that bars sites from tricking children into viewing pornography - as ".xxx" would clearly denote an adult site.
Lawley said those requirements could make credit-card issuers more confident about accepting charges. The online porn industry currently faces higher fees because some sites engage in fraud and customers often deny authorizing payments.
But given the limited effectiveness of a voluntary ".xxx" for filtering, Internet filtering expert Seth Finkelstein calls ".xxx" no more than a mechanism "to extract fees from bona fide pornographers and domain name speculators." (ICANN also gets an unspecified cut of each registration fee.)
Even if it were mandatory, it wouldn't be foolproof.
A domain name serves merely as an easy-to-remember moniker for a site's actual numeric Internet address. David Burt, a spokesman for filtering vendor Secure Computing Corp., said a child could simply use the numeric address when the ".xxx" equivalent gets blocked.
Better technologies exist, he said, including a little-used self-rating system that lets Web sites broadcast whether they contain nudity, violence or foul language, along with the specific forms, such as presence of genitals or passionate kissing.
Burt also favors a ".kids" domain that would serve as a safe haven for children. The U.S. government has approved one under ".us," but support has been cool, with only about two dozen ".kids.us" sites listed.
ICM proposed both ".xxx" and ".kids" in 2000, but ICANN board members resisted them for fear of getting into content control. Instead, ICANN approved ".info," ".biz," and ".museum" and four others.
But pressure has continued to mount for ICANN to expand the number of domain names, and last year it reopened bidding.
ICM resubmitted its application for ".xxx" only, this time structuring it with a policy-setting organization to free ICANN of that task.
That did the trick.
ICANN board member Joichi Ito, who backed ".xxx," wrote in his Web journal that the decision wasn't an endorsement of any type of content or moral belief but a chance for "creating incentives for legitimate adult entertainment sites to come together and fight "bad actors.' "
Anti-porn activist Donna Rice Hughes, however, remains unconvinced.
"They are not going to give up their ".com' addresses," she said of porn sites. "It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure that one out."
Location: Buffalo, NY
08/28/05 09:49 - 73ºF - ID#28160
(TO) Blue Friday
The Juliet Dagger
September, 9 2005 at BLUE FRIDAY - Buffalo Bills Rally - FREE ALL AGES!
outdoor show in Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14201
Starts: 5:30PM TJD: 9PM With: Universal Grill, Milkfat, Klear
Location: Buffalo, NY
08/27/05 06:59 - 74ºF - ID#28159
Wends Aug. 31 Last Conservative
ALL AGES AND FREE!!
(CHECK OUT THE ARTICLE BELOW)
Feuding businesses on Chippewa compromise
By BRIAN MEYER
News Staff Reporter-Buffalo News
Chippewa Street bar owners who were fighting over competing events reached a compromise Friday in a dispute that some have dubbed "Chippe-wars." On the same day a judge planned to hear arguments in a lawsuit, the feuding sides agreed to an out-of-court settlement that will see motorcycle buffs and music lovers share the street for the next four Wednesday nights.
But as the parties left State Supreme Court, it was clear a rift
remains between competing business groups. "They're like kids in a sandbox who can't get along," said Thomas E. Gleed, an aide to Mayor Anthony M. Masiello who helped broker the compromise.
"They definitely need to grow up," said Council Member Brian C. Davis, whose Ellicott District includes Chippewa Street.
The controversy stems from the city's decision to issue a permit that
authorizes closing one block of Chippewa on Wednesday nights to
accommodate concerts sponsored by a group of businesses that calls itself Chippewa Now.
But the Chippewa Entertainment District Association, a longer-tenured group, complained that the action halted a popular Bikes, Blues and Barbecue event that had been attracting hundreds of motorcyclists each Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the Crocodile Bar.
For the first couple of months this summer, Chippewa Now used its
special permit to stage biker nights on Wednesdays, which complemented the Crocodile Bar's event. But when Chippewa Now shifted gears two weeks ago and started holding concerts instead, motorcycles were no longer permitted on the block between Delaware Avenue and Franklin Street.
Some bar owners filed legal papers seeking, among other things, an
injunction to prevent the street-closing. They accused the city of bending the rules for staging special events. Peter J. Savage III, a city attorney who handled the case, insisted that all proper procedures were followed. Under the compromise announced Friday, about one-eighth of the block would be set aside on Wednesday nights to accommodate the biker event. Organizers must obtain insurance, and no outdoor drinking will be allowed in that small area just east of Delaware Avenue.
Meanwhile, most of the street will be closed to traffic to accommodate the concerts and the event's food and beer tent.
"I hope this is the beginning of a new era of cooperation among the
businesses on Chippewa," said attorney James S. Nowak, who represents Chippewa Now.
What's causing the dissension?
"You have a lot of strong-minded individuals, and all of them have been very successful at what they do," he said. Marc Alfieri, owner of the Crocodile Bar, agreed to the compromise. But he expressed frustration as he left court.
"I'm disgusted with this whole process," he said.
His attorney, Shannon M. Heneghan, said that while the compromise is acceptable for the remaining four weeks of the season, her client would like to see the concerts moved to a different night next year.
Location: Buffalo, NY
08/27/05 05:01 - 75ºF - ID#28158
On another note. I think some of the best adds I have seen have been for beer. I used to have some really cool free beer poster I got back when they had those food things at the convention center where you could try stuff. That was pre taste of buffalo. I think one had like a beer going over the falls or something. I have to see if I can find those they are truely amazing some of them. There is this one sminorf ad I love. I think the full version of it is very long. I don't know if it is forigen or if it is shot like it is. But in the end this guy opens up his freezer and they are doors that lead outside that he blares his radio with his buddy as they look at the view it is truely amazing in it full version. I think that since beer and alcohol companies have so much money and can come up with great ads. The public has to make sure that their ads arn't aimed at kids. I knew people who drank when they where underage everybody does. I don't think that is the real problem. The problem is that some people don't know how to handle there alcohol. That is why I don't like to have more then 2 drinks. I don't know what kind of ass it will turn me into or will I just trip over you then dance naked or what ever. Not that I went out verry often but I stoped because someone I knew became an ass when they drank, so I was like screw this. Since I lost my train of thought that is the end of my post. I'm sure I'll come back to this topic some other time in the future.
Location: Buffalo, NY
08/27/05 04:06 - 75ºF - ID#28157
Location: Buffalo, NY
08/26/05 07:18 - 86ºF - ID#28156
FOCUS: CIGARETTE CONTROVERSY
No sale, city says, to ads near schools touting tobacco
Anti-smoking activists applaud crackdown to enforce prohibition on books for many years
By BRIAN MEYER
News Staff Reporter
Click to view larger picture
Dennis C. Enser/Buffalo News
This ad for Newport cigarettes, on a deli at Amherst and Peter streets, violates city law because the store is near a school, shown in the background. The owner promises to remove it.
Cigarette ads are plastered across the outside of a grocery store on East Ferry Street, just a block from School 53. One sign for Newport urges passers-by to "Pocket the Pleasure." Another promises "Pleasure to Go."
At an Amherst Street delicatessen, posters in the window advertise Kool and Virginia Slims, while a sign on its door touts Newport. Our Lady of Black Rock School is only a block away.
"Cigarettes" is painted in bold red letters on the side of a Hampshire Street grocery store, a block from the Bilingual Education Center.
No one accuses these stores of selling cigarettes to children. Nonetheless, they are breaking a city law that forbids posting outdoor tobacco signs within 1,000 feet of schools, youth centers, playgrounds and day care centers. The law has been on the books for a long time, but the city didn't start enforcing it until this summer.
City officials visited more than 40 food stores on the West Side this month and found every business violating the tobacco ad restrictions.
"In most cases, all the signs were down the same day," said Niagara Council Member Dominic J. Bonifacio Jr., who spearheaded the effort.
Others were given more time to remove cigarette ads that were painted on their buildings.
But the ads can be found in all corners of the city.
20% smoke in high school
The crackdown is winning praise in some arenas.
"They hang these huge cigarette signs outside. It's sometimes just so in-your-face," said Donna Grace of the Supporting and Initiating Community Action Coalition, a group that fights drug and alcohol abuse. "And kids are very observant. Some might look at these signs and say "that's a cool thing to do.' "
City enforcers should "get an award" for the crackdown, said Terry Alford, coordinator of the Erie Niagara Tobacco Free Coalition.
He predicted the enforcement effort would pay long-term health dividends.
"Studies show that the average smoker tries the first cigarette at the age of 141/2," said Alford, who heads a group based at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
According to the coalition, one in five high school students in the state smokes. At the middle school level, 7.2 percent of boys and 5.6 percent of girls smoke.
Alford says he is convinced that the $11.2 billion tobacco companies spend on advertising each year affects "impressionable" youngsters.
Arafat Rizek, who owns the Black Rock Food Center at Amherst and Peter streets, said he recently removed cigarette ads placed on his facade by a tobacco distributor and plans on removing other ads. Rizek said he has no problem with the city's new enforcement effort.
Rizek and other deli owners also noted that some cigarette ads inside their stores recently have been taken down.
Anti-smoking activists have been pushing for enforcement of a 1998 agreement aimed at restricting cigarette advertising. They have been targeting tobacco ads that are placed at eye level for youngsters.
Incentives from distributors
Cigarette sales account for more than a third of all sales in many delis. Bonifacio said some tobacco distributors also provide incentives to stores that display signs touting their products.
Still, some grocery store owners said they understand the reasoning behind the city's crackdown.
"I have five kids of my own," Rizek said.
Grace, an anti-drug activist, called City Hall recently to complain about tobacco ads outside a West Side deli near a school.
"Nobody is trying to hurt people's businesses. It's better to have a thriving business than a boarded-up building," said Grace. "But these (store) owners have to follow proper procedures."
Removing tobacco ads shouldn't hurt sales, according to North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr.
"People know they can buy cigarettes in delis," he said. "You don't need gaudy, ugly posters to tell people there are cigarettes inside."
Golombek submitted legislation this week that aims to close an enforcement loophole. While the law has been on city books for years, Buffalo never established specific fines for the offense. Golombek hopes to change that when lawmakers return from summer break. His resolution calls for imposing $200 fines for first offenses and $350 fines for repeat violations.
Bonifacio, meanwhile, wants to broaden the ban to include liquor advertisements. He also is asking city lawyers to determine whether the city can add churches to the restricted areas.
Tobacco advertising outside delis was widespread in the Niagara District until the recent crackdown, Bonifacio said. Of the 61 food stores in his district, Bonifacio said, all but two are prohibited from displaying cigarette signs outside their establishments.
More stringent licensing rules
When city officials visited delis earlier this month, they also cited some for building code violations, checked fire extinguishers and made sure all stores had proper licenses.
Over the past two years, the city has imposed more stringent procedures for reviewing food store license applications. The actions followed repeated complaints about loitering, unclean conditions and other problems in and around some of the corner stores.
Golombek described enforcing tobacco ad restrictions as another step in the city's effort to improve quality of life in neighborhoods.
Location: Buffalo, NY
08/25/05 07:53 - 78ºF - ID#28155
Location: Buffalo, NY
08/25/05 07:24 - 78ºF - ID#28154
BEHIND THE HEADLINES
Battle of the network watchdogs
The Parents Television Council has emerged as an aggressive advocate of family-friendly programming. But Hollywood is finding a new way to fight back.
By COLLEEN MCCAIN NELSON
Dallas Morning News
Click to view larger picture
Fox's "The O.C." is one of the many programs targeted by Parents Television Council.
DALLAS - "The O.C." is out when it comes to family-friendly TV shows. And don't even get started on what's wrong with MTV.
"If MTV isn't vulgar, then Colorado doesn't have mountains, and the pope isn't Catholic," says L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, a million-member organization that takes aim at indecency in the media. He calls MTV an "innocence-nuking spectacle for the pre-teen audience."
But now, with the fall TV season approaching, Hollywood and the networks are fighting back. Three major media companies - NBC Universal, Viacom and News Corp. - have launched TV Watch to advocate parental controls and oppose government intervention. This newly minted group, which has brought together an unusual mix of corporations, creative types and conservative, free market proponents, is emerging as the council's adversary in a growing battle over what's appropriate for the airwaves. "The discussion had turned into a very one-sided debate," said TV Watch executive director Jim Dyke. "Our group was formed to balance out the debate and provide some reason."
The Parents Television Council was founded 10 years ago but became more visible after Janet Jackson bared her breast during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.
Now, the privately funded nonpartisan organization is signing up new members and starting local chapters. Their goal: Compel the FCC to crack down on programming the group believes crosses the line. But critics say the parents' council represents the minority view.
"They have a heckler's veto over speech and content," said Adam Thierer, a senior fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, a think tank that studies the digital revolution and supports limited government. He notes the council's list of worst TV programs includes many of the most popular, including "CSI" and "Will & Grace."
Opponents of the Parents Television Council have dubbed the group an automated complaint factory. The group's Web site does make it easy to express your outrage. You can sign up for alerts detailing sex, violence and profanity in the media. You can study the council's assessments of almost every TV show. And you can add your name to a form letter and submit a complaint to the FCC.
And the council leaves little doubt about where it stands.
" "Nip/Tuck' is not just a show that's completely inappropriate for impressionable children to watch," the group says of the edgy FX network drama about plastic surgery. "It's a show adults should be convincing other adults not to support. The sanity of our popular culture depends on our objections."
But TV Watch says that parents already possess the antidote to all things offensive. Nearly all televisions now have V-chips (electronic circuits that can be used to block programming), and cable and satellite systems offer an array of other parental controls, said Dyke, the coalition's executive director.
The problem? Most people don't use them. "People are still a little bit leery of programming their TV," Dyke said. "They want to watch it. They don't want to build it."
So, TV Watch is launching new advertising trying to get the word out, telling parents how to use the V-chip and other controls and explaining the TV ratings system, he said. TV Watch is nonpartisan, and though the seed money came from media companies, the coalition includes groups from opposite ends of the political spectrum, including the Creative Coalition and Americans for Tax Reform.
Dyke, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee, said his group aims to stop the Parents Television Council from using the government to decide what constitutes quality television.
"The government as parent has not typically been a successful model," he said.
But the council complains that parents are thwarted at almost every juncture when they try to stem the flow of objectionable television into their homes. Cable companies, they note, bundle channels such as MTV into all-or-nothing packages, forcing viewers who want to order Nickelodeon to pay for other programming that may not appeal to them. Bozell said that channels should be offered a la carte.
The parents' council dismisses suggestions that the V-chip and other controls are sufficient to protect children. Bozell called the argument "hokum," adding that "Hollywood needs to clean up its act instead of lecturing parents about what they need to do."
Location: Buffalo, NY
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