Should U.S. troops pull out of Iraq?
Hell, yeah. They done went and got what they was looking for, so get the hell out of there and pay some contractors to go back and rebuild it. Let the people vote for their own president. Did you see Saddam going off in court? I caught the end of it. Do you believe he was getting beat up in jail? I don't believe that, 'cause they know it's gonna get out to the media. Unless he was just being a real stubborn hard-ass. Did you read about the CIA picking people up and taking them over to countries where torture is legal? I don't think that's right, either. What about Bush tapping the phones? Some black activist is standing up saying that he wants Bush impeached because he did illegal phone taps. But you know he's gonna find a way out of it. How many more years we got with him, three? Ain't no tellin' what's gonna happen. It sounds like such a long time. What we done been through with him 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, wooo. Why do I see boys wearing their hats with the hologram sticker still on the bottom brim?
It's just a trend. Everybody's following it right now. I'm kinda sick of it myself. East Coast rappers started it. They all real trendy like that. It started with leaving the hanging tag on the hat. Now it's the sticker tag. People do whatever; it could be so it looks new, right off the rack, that could be it. It's like people don't have a mind of their own. They see one person do it and everyone's gotta do it. What happened to originality?
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Digging Her Own Garden
During her prime-time ads night after night, Mayor Kay Barnes stands tough in front of a lectern, telling her audience that nobody likes to retain water. A short ripple of laughter follows, and then Barnes compliments the audience for getting her point: Kansas City faces certain doom from the next heavy rain.
"Storm water knows no political boundaries," the mayor says in the $150,000, city-funded advertising campaign. The spots are part of a new program called 10,000 Rain Gardens, which aims to steer storm-water flow from the streets into flowery holes in the ground dug by residents and businesses. The idea is that these pretty ditches could save the city from costly anti-flood upgrades.
But doesn't it seem that the majority of flowers planted lately are at the grave sites of murder victims in the inner city?
With eight murders by mid-January, violence weighs heavy on the city's consciousness as 2006 takes off where last year ended. The city spending its ad dollars to promote garden ditches has some community leaders questioning the mayor's priorities. "It's stupid, very, very stupid," says Lamar Mickens, president of Quality Day Campus, a group assembled to create a strategy to save the urban core. "How many people does it take to die for you to notice you don't need to be laying out flowers you need to be laying out a plan to save the urban core?"
The mayor's director of urban affairs, Donovan Mouton, defends the program by noting that nearly 30 percent of the city's billion-dollar budget goes to policing. Millions more are spent on youth programs that help curb crime. He cites the mayor's new volunteer Crime Commission Task Force and recent Stop Youth Violence summits (funded by a nonprofit group) as prime examples that city leaders are involved and that they care. Also notable, he says, is the mayor's having spoken of the need to fight the growing crime rate during her State of the City speech last May.
Mouton isn't convinced that spending the city's ad dollars on stop-the-violence spots would make a difference. "I question whether that would have a direct impact," he says. "Getting to the true roots of crime and also providing opportunities is probably the most substantial way to address this problem."
If the death toll is any indication, Mickens says, then the city is taking its sweet-ass time providing innovative ways to help the urban core. "Why isn't there any significant economic-development projects within the urban core that promotes stability through employment, better housing and overall cleaner neighborhoods?" Mickens asks. "How could something so large be so largely overlooked?"
So he'll keep one hand on his shovel, ready to help dig the next grave.
Soldiers in Iraq have long complained about cut-rate battle gear. Last week, though, Fort Riley's own spendthrift measures left the rural Kansas base wide open for a surprise attack.
On the morning of January 17, at least 70 percent of the main post went dark in a power outage. Repair crews found that the problem couldn't be fixed quickly because of a bum reactivation switch that should long ago have been replaced. So repair crews and we use the word repair lightly routed electricity through a set of old wires. The bypass didn't do much to restore power, but it did do a fine job of starting a small grass fire nearby. Rows of barracks, family quarters and business offices, as well as the mess hall, spent six hours without power, going, as the kids say these days, Baghdad-style.
Not long into the repairs, workers found the culprit of the outage: a squirrel.
The attack by the apparent al-Qaeda-supporting rodent could've been prevented if the base had installed a simple fence to keep out pests, admits Keith Jevons, base supervisor at the Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division. But Jevons says it's not worth installing a barrier, considering that this was only the third time in 20 years that the Fort Riley electrical system had been the victim of a direct squirrel assault.
Will the beast be interrogated?
"No. Nooooo," Jevons tells the Pitch. "It was dead on contact."