Google+ Badge

Monday, June 29, 2015

Serial Killer or Human Trafficking? Chillicothe and Scioto County Links

Six women have disappeared. Four of them have been found dead. As talk in a small central Ohio city, population 23,000, turns to the possibility of a serial killer or killers, the FBI has joined the case, trying to figure out who or what is happening to these women.

Some were sex workers, most had problems with drug abuse and at least three were addicted to heroin, according to ABC News.

"They all ran in the same circle -- the drug scene and things like that," Chillicothe Police Sgt. Ron Meyers told the Huffington Post.

"They've all lived similar lifestyles. We know they all have drugs addictions -- heroin being the drug of choice for most of them. Also, some prostitution issues in their lives -- so we know that's kind of a link,” Chillicothe Police Officer Bud Lytle said.

(Joe Rosemeyer. "Missing Chillicothe women: Who or what is killing women in small
central Ohio city?" WCPO Cincinnati. June 25, 2015)

It is time to face reality. The public has an important obligation to ALL community members. That obligation is to respond to help the victims of crime no matter their lifestyle or their addiction.

I cannot imagine the huge public outcry if these women had not carried the stigma of being people struggling with terrible personal demons. Although many have answered the call to help, many others show much less concern when so-called "secondary citizens" are victims of criminal acts. The fact is that all of these women are human beings seeking a fruitful existence -- each is an essential piece of the community in which they live. Their peril must be a top concern for all of us.

I would be greatly surprised if the deaths and the disappearances are not part of a highly organized human trafficking network that has roots extending far beyond Chillicothe, Ohio. Here in Scioto County -- less than 50 miles from Chillicothe -- we have experienced a terrible rash of our own missing women.

Connections among the missing are evident to those who seek answers. And, it is true that drug abuse and prostitution here provide "hunting grounds" for sick criminals, especially those who choose to take advantage of human flesh in exchange for money and favor.

These victims are manipulated as slaves in a system that remains "a dirty little secret" to many. Most are fully controlled by substances. They become dependent and addicted while fixes and fear keep them in tow and silent about any abuse. One only has to follow the love of money to find links to the organization of control. These slave masters use the vulnerable to satisfy their own carnal desires, to offer favors to associates, and to make money from the local sex trade.

Portsmouth, Chillicothe, so many other nearby places -- we are the communities in which this obscene human trafficking takes place. We are the communities that suffer the losses and inherit the fears of brutal kidnappings and murder. We are the communities who choose to "let it ride" because drugs and prostitution are beneath us, and, therefore, not really our concern. We are the communities that refuses to "dig deeper" into the disappearances.

And ...

We all have become another community in which our own populace continues to lose lives for lack of full support in helping stop this control and manipulation. Do we in Portsmouth need to join the task force to find missing people in Chillicothe. Of course we do. But just as important, we need to join together to shed daylight onto the terrible abuses of human beings right here in our own community. It is our obligation to do so.

Who in a position of authority is willing to vow the following: "I will not rest until unsolved cases are solved and the evil people among us come to justice"?

Make no mistake, the sex trade and drug connection you see in Portsmouth are parts of a much larger network of human trafficking with NO regard for life. Those with answers need to speak out now to prevent further tragedies. No matter if truths are revealed that expose a dark underbelly that thrives through politics and favor -- our duty is to bring criminals to justice. Our duty is to care for all of our fellow citizens by insuring equality of justice.

Click here for access to the Missing Person Hotline:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Will Portsmouth Police Follow "The New Reality" and Heal a Fractured Relationship With the People?

"Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware said the Kasich administration, by way of an Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations, has mandated additional training for police officers — and that training will most likely be paid for by what remains of local government funds which have been diminishing over the last several years and will, for all intents and purposes continue to diminish.

“'It’s probably a catch-22,' Ware said. 'I think we’re probably going to lose some local government funding and we’ll receive some of it back.'

"Ware said the additional training is the new reality in policing and it will continue to be required."

(Frank Lewis. "Ware: additional training mandatory." Portsmouth Daily Times. June 25, 2015)

I believe police in Ohio, and especially in Portsmouth, need additional, mandatory training. As public servants, policeman need special skills -- not only expertise in enforcing the law but also greater aptitude in communicating with people. I feel the police here have a poor relationship with the public that, in part, causes a negative reputation to thrive.

Honesty, transparency, and a caring attitude about equal justice are essential to good policing. Too many times the unwillingness of enforcement to respect the rights of common people have led these citizens to feel neglected in a system that favors power, control, and politics.

In December, 2014, Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich appointed 18 members to the Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations after a series of incidents in Ohio and around the nation that highlighted tensions between communities and police.

The charge of the Task Force was threefold:

1. To explore the cause of fractured relationships that exist between some law enforcement and
the communities they serve;

2. To examine strategies to strengthen trust between communities and law enforcement in order to resolve the underlying causes of friction;

3. To provide the Governor with a report including recommendations about best practices available to communities.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach from the Northern District of Ohio said improvements can be made.
"In this nation we need to be able to acknowledge and thank officers, but when the facts dictate it, hold police officers accountable," Dettelbach says. Additional training, updated policies, new equipment, and better community policing procedures could help alleviate the department's issues, Dettelbach said.

David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, said, "The single most important fact that I have learned in 30 years working in these neighborhoods is that those of us on the outside focus on the incidents, and people in those neighborhoods focus on the history."

Mistrust exists between residents and police in many neighborhoods, Kennedy said.

"This is not nearly as much about race as we think it is," he said. "This is about community and the police, and they're not getting along."

Kasich then asked the task force to issue a report by April 30, 2015, to provide ideas for how communities across the state can build constructive relationships between communities and police that are built on mutual understanding and respect.

Here are some of the findings of the task force:

* Citizens were adamant that action must be taken to ensure that agencies and officers be held accountable by the communities they serve. All actions -- administratively and criminally performed.

* Universally, it was felt that the police need to be more engaged with communities in which they work. Police must have relationships with communities that evoke trust. They must be proactive partners with the public.

* One suggestion was that police should live in the communities in which they work.

* There exists a need for law enforcement to have more positive interactions with youth at an early age so that these children begin to see police as someone they can trust.

* Citizens noted that the community must make more of an effort to engage with law enforcement, and that mechanisms need to be in place to engage in open, honest dialogue.

* The community perceives race to be an issue among some police officers. Racism is as underlying the fractured relationship between the community and police.

* Citizens perceive law enforcement to be procedurally unjust. Citizens spoke of being treated unfairly and disrespectfully by law enforcement, being subject to unspoken ‘rules’ to which
they must abide, and being denied a voice when interacting with police. Over time, these
factors generate citizens’ perceptions of a procedurally unjust justice system. As a result, law
enforcement officers are no longer viewed as legitimate authority figures.

* Citizens noted that transparency in agency policies and procedures is a critical step toward being viewed as being neutral and fair. In order for law enforcement to be viewed as just and fair.

* The timely, accurate, and ongoing release of information to the public on critical incidents is another very important step in being seen as transparent, and all law enforcement agencies should have a policy that emphasizes this.

* Some felt it is important to have specially trained officers to interact with persons who have mental illness and other disabling conditions, as agencies must be accountable to all members of their community. Roughly 10 percent of the calls for which officers are dispatched involves a mentally ill person in crisis, and agencies can be found ‘deliberately indifferent’ by not having the ability to effectively interact with this population.


(Senator Nina Turner Director John Born. Executive Summary: Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations. April 29, 2015)

(Evan MacDonald. "Five takeaways from task force forum on police and community relations." Cleveland Plain Dealer. January 20, 2015)

I think Police Chief Ware needs to commit fully to what he calls "the new reality in policing." Without a doubt, the public in Portsmouth is sorely aware that police need to be more engaged and to be held more accountable. Time and time again, I hear citizens complaining about a system that seemingly doles our measures of justice based upon a person's social standing, power, and influence. In fact, I know this from my own personal experience.

Transparency is also lacking in the Portsmouth Police Department. Without common access to needed reports and statistics, people are left to wonder why "policy" denies them disclosure. Is it any wonder that policing for the needs of the power structure continues to oppress a community in which the poor have few opportunities for success and advancement? There appears to be an agenda that lies beneath a blanket of purposeful design.

The basis of a strong community is its ability to recognize and support all social strata. People point fingers at the poor and struggling claiming they are nothing but "lazy welfare recipients" and "ignorant bums without initiative," and the authorities are no exception to contributing to that kind of ad hominem character attack. This prejudice helps assure a division between classes that contributes to political control because people without knowledge jump into the bandwagon and scapegoat the poor for all of the ills of the community.

Hope, direction, and a real chance for a positive future strengthens those in peril. But, you can't provide these things if you truly do not understand the population. Some here have never known the struggles of those living in the Projects, the Bottoms, or the Ville, and while willing to pay lip service to understanding the needs of those less fortunate, they offer tokens of help if they offer help at all. The folks in poverty don't need charity as much as they need equality.

A share in the real decisions of the direction of the town would give the poor immeasurable happiness and real stimulus for initiative. This can only happen when public servants recognize they must provide poor citizens with equal justice and equal standing as far as their basic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's been a long time coming. I am hopeful for major improvement very soon.

"Ohio earned a 'D' in the recent State Integrity Investigation
looking at transparency, accountability and anti-corruption
mechanisms in place in all 50 states. The state fared poorly
in the area of effective access to information."

("How bright are Ohio's Sunshine Laws in Southwest Ohio?" WVXU - Cincinnati)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

All Americans Must Possess "The Gift Outright"

The Gift Outright

By Robert Frost (1874–1963)       

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

With due apologies to Native Americans, I believe Robert Frost's poem solidifies the understanding that not only are we stewards of our land, but also we are dependent upon it for our free existence. Living in a depressed area of Appalachia, I see the need for a community commitment to save this beautiful environment from ravages that occur through indifference and neglect.

Frost recited “The Gift Outright” at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. Frost had originally planned to recite a poem entitled “Dedication” that he had written for the event. However, because of the glare of the sun and his poor eyesight (he was eighty-seven years old at the time), he was unable to read his copy of the poem and instead recited “The Gift Outright.”

The tone of the poem can be seen as defensive and even belligerent in terms of its approach to the land. Frost repeats the term “ours” numerous times in the text, but insists that the “we” of the poem is the white settlers from Europe, rather than the original “owners” of the land: the Native Americans.

One may assume that the charge -- "The land was ours before we were the land’s" -- applies to natives and to colonists alike, but "Frost ignores the conflict between the colonists and the Native Americans and instead focuses on the clash between the Old World and the New World, the European world of tradition and oppression and the new American world of freedom and destiny."

(The Poetry of Robert Frost. Analysis of "The Gift Outright." 1941)

She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.

At first, the colonists owned the land; however, they could not draw a true national identity from it because they were still tied to England. By embracing the lessons of the land, they were able to establish an American identity.

Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.

The source of weakness for the colonists is symbolized as a lack of surrender to the fact that a manifest destiny gave them the right to build a land that was not based on the traditions of Europe. They had to offer themselves to the land itself, not to the British, and become inhabitants who were willing to establish their own American identities in a new nation.

Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

This gift Americans gave themselves -- "a deed of land" -- required human payments of war and tremendous deeds of personal valor. It took a great toll of human suffering and death to acquire and to defend. And, later a Westward expansion as yet "vaguely realized" by the colonists of the time led to land "still unstoried" -- a great nation from humble beginnings that eventually spanned sea to sea.

I believe without a vision and an understanding of "a gift outright" we still must honor and strive to achieve, we have no connection to America, in particular to the literal "land" beneath our feet. It is this land, the earth itself, that we possess with great obligations to enrich it in every way. I wish the birthright of every American included a deed to a plot of soil so important to our way of life.

We can never be proud of our area until we develop an appreciation of our surroundings that includes a duty to improve what we have, no matter how dilapidated or how sorely ignored. This pride has nothing to do with the rich acquiring more and building new, fabulous structures as monuments to personal achievement. It has nothing to do with the maintenance of the power and the strength of one political segment of the community.

Instead, it has everything to do with common citizens grasping the land -- their gift -- and the ownership of their own rights, freedoms, and dreams. The American Dream is suffering so much that a cancer of poverty threatens to snuff it out forever. We are still "possessed by what we now no more possessed."

People must have the land, and after acquiring it, they must repeat the actions of their forefathers: They must find salvation in the soil where they live. If not, the land must be taken by new and better common stewards.

A Note: My sincere apologies to Native Americans who so nobly fought to defend their land. As a descendent of immigrants, I feel ashamed of the brutal tactics which Europeans used to drive natives from their homes. I do realize all immigrants are interlopers and subject to the accusations of unspeakable deeds. I can only wish immigration wasn't full of these horrible deeds. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Meet the Poor of 2015 -- Alone and Forgotten

"I-me-me mine, I-me-me mine,
I-me-me mine, I-me-me mine.

"All I can hear I-me-mine, I-me-mine, I-me-mine,
Even those tears I-me-mine, I-me-mine, I-me-mine,
No one's frightened of playing it,
Everyone's saying it,
Flowing more freely than wine,
All through the day I-me-mine."

From "I Me Mine" by the Beatles 

Taking all you can get... and even a little more at the expense of others less fortunate... seems to be the overpowering desire of so many. The gap between those who "have" and those who "have not" is increasingly widening. I believe the love of money causes greed that leaves little concern for a large segment of American society who struggle just to survive.

In an editorial titled "The Invisible Poor" (2000), James Fallows wrote the following:

"The way a rich nation thinks about its poor will always be convoluted. The richer people become in general, the easier it theoretically becomes for them to share with people who are left out. But the richer people become, the less they naturally stay in touch with the realities of life on the bottom, and the more they naturally prefer to be excited about their own prospects rather than concerned about someone else's."

(James Fallows. "The Invisible Poor." The New York Times. March 19, 2000)

Fallows saw a social and imaginative separation between the rich and the poor. He continued ...

"This is not the embattled distance of the 'Bonfire of the Vanities' period, with its gated communities and atmosphere of urban armed camps. It's more like simple invisibility, because of increasing geographic, occupational and social barriers that block one group from the other's view.

"Prosperous America does not seem hostile to the poor, and often responds generously when reminded. But our poor are like people in Madagascar. We feel bad for them, but they live someplace else."

By standard measures of real income and wages, the poorest and least educated Americans have experienced a falling standard of living since 1975. Rising inequality in family incomes reflects rising inequality in wages, the most important source of income for most Americans. Wage inequality has increased dramatically for both men and women. Although many compelling moral arguments for reducing economic inequality exist, richer Americans seem to have a high tolerance for economic inequality and often prefer to blame the poor for all of their ills.

(William A. Sundstrom. "The Income Gap." Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
Santa Clara University)

According to a new study, the wealth gap between the top 1% and the bottom 99% in the U.S. is as wide as it's been in nearly 100 years. Between 1993 and 2012, the real incomes of the 1% grew 86.1%, while those of the 99% grew 6.6%, according to the research based on Internal Revenue Service statistics examined by economists at UC Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.

From 2009 to 2012, as the U.S. economy improved, incomes of the top 1% grew more than 31%, while the incomes of the 99% grew 0.4% - less than half a percentage point. Economist Emmanuel Saez of UC Berkeley reports, "This implies that the top 1% incomes captured just over two-thirds of the overall economic growth of real incomes per family over the period 1993-2012."

(Connie Stewart. "Income gap between rich and poor is biggest in a century."
Los Angeles Times. September 11, 2013)

A famous quote from Voltaire still holds true: “The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.”
It is imperative not to forget that the poor are still a very important component of today’s society. As consumers and workers, they comprise a segment of the population that provides obvious economic and social benefits for all. Yet, for all practical purposes, they are a neglected minority. Politicians rave about the importance of helping the middle class while any mention of the poor has become a “dirty word” in American politics.

A basic tenet of sociological practice is that to solve a social problem, people must begin by seeing it as social. If a society is set in its beliefs that poverty is caused by failures of individual initiative and effort, and people are poor because "there’s something lacking in them," then, in the eyes of other classes, the poor have no right to complain about their condition. Yet, who can deny the inequality in how the system and all its advancements are organized? Who can deny the poor are oppressed?

A primary characteristic of the class system is social mobility. In other words an individual can move up, or down, the class structure. In fact, now, more than ever, the underclass lives in areas with high concentrations of poverty and fewer opportunities to improve their lives.

Dr. D. Stanley Eitzen, professor emeritus in sociology from Colorado State University, argues that the so-called "new-poor" are much more trapped by poverty than the poor in previous generations mainly because there is little need for hard physical labor. Eitzen says ...

"The new poor are the poor who are displaced by new technologies or whose jobs have moved away to the suburbs, to other regions of the country, or out of the country. The new poor have little hope of breaking out of poverty."

(D. Stanley Eitzen and Maxine Baca-Zinn. Social Problems. 2003)

Oh, there are government anti-poverty programs which are basically in place to "help poor individuals" but they do nothing to change the social system that dooms so many to poverty. Novelist and sociologist Allan G. Johnson puts it this way ...

"The easiest way to see this is to look at the antipoverty programs themselves. They come in two main varieties. The first holds individuals responsible by assuming that financial success is solely a matter of individual qualifications and behavior. In other words, if you just run faster, you’ll finish the race ahead of people who are currently beating you, and then they’ll be poor instead of you. We get people to run faster by providing training and motivation. What we don’t do, however, is look at the rules of the race or question whether the basic necessities of life should be distributed through competition.

"The result is that some people rise out of poverty by improving their competitive advantage, while others sink into it when their advantages no longer work and they get laid off or their company relocates to another country or gets swallowed up in a merger that boosts the stock price for shareholders and earns the CEO a salary that in 2005 averaged more than 262 times the average worker’s pay. But nothing is even said – much less done – about an economic system that allows a small elite to own and control most of the wealth and sets up the rest of the population to compete over what’s left."

(Allan G. Johnson. The Forest and the Trees. 2013)

It has been nearly half a century since President Lyndon Johnson declared "war on poverty." That initiative produced great successes, and many of its programs have been very effective -- the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps); Head Start; Medicaid; the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program; school breakfast programs; and federal aid for poor schools and students.

Dan Glickman, US Secretary of Agriculture from 1995 until 2001 and now a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, says ...

"After years of erosion of wages and benefits, the U.S. poverty rate has risen and approaches a 50-year high. Yet poverty has become an almost invisible issue for policymakers and the press. It feels today like a "war on poverty" would need to begin with a battle just to gain recognition that poverty even exists."

(Dan Glickman. "America's Invisible Poor." U.S. News & World Report. May 01, 2013)

Meet the Poor of 2015

A 2012 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed alarming child poverty rates in the United States, particularly when compared to other developed nations. For example, the United States ranks second highest among all measured countries with 23.1 percent of children living in poverty, just under Romania, with 25.6 percent.

Allow Dr. César Chelala, an international public health consultant, to introduce the neglected and struggling poor of our nation:

"Today, four out of five adults in the United States struggle to find jobs, are near poverty, or rely on welfare for at least part of their lives, and there is fear that the situation is going to get worse, at least for those in the lower echelons of the economic scale.

"The number of America’s poor remains at a record 46.2 million, or approximately 15 percent of the population, due in part to still-high unemployment levels. Despite their high numbers, they are sometimes called 'the invisible poor' since they tend to live in small rural towns in America’s heartland, far away from politicians and government officials to see, or 'feel their pain.'

"According to the Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 'food security' refers to the availability of food and a person’s access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. Based on this criterion, 50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households (33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children.)

"'Economic insecurity' has been defined as a year or more of periodic lack of jobs, reliance on government assistance such as food stamps, or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. If current trends continue, by 2030, close to 85 percent of all working-class adults in the United States will experience bouts of economic insecurity, according to Mark Rank, a professor of social welfare at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2011, 4.8 million seniors (over age 60) were food insecure.

"Poverty affects individuals’ access to quality education and quality health care. Low-income communities cannot afford the same quality of education as high-income communities. Females in poverty are more likely to become pregnant at younger ages, and have fewer resources to care for their children. Many among them end up dropping out of school.

"The significant proportion of children living in food insecure households makes them more prone to have nutritional and other associated health problems. Poor children have higher infant mortality rates, more frequent and severe chronic diseases such as respiratory infections, less access to quality health care, lower immunization rates, and increased obesity and its complications."

(Dr. César Chelala. America’s Neglected Poor. Epoch Times. September 4, 2013)

Despite the railing about welfare and the apparent stigma that exists toward the poor, America is full of hard-working Americans whose jobs pay less than a living wage and whose existence provides them little dignity with few offers of paths for advancement.

Meanwhile, the rich do not depend upon a spirit of cooperation and equity to ensure happiness in their lives -- their fortunes are not fixed to the success of a cooperative society. The rich do not worry about crime next door, affordable accessible health care, job security, educational opportunities, or food on the table and gas in the tank. Instead, they worry about acquiring a bigger share for themselves.

I think the rich have placed themselves as a group politically and socially "more than equal" than others in our society. Power of command over others is something they use, not to cooperate with the poor, but to enjoy and insure their independence from the less-fortunate. Hardly mixing with ordinary people except those who serve them, they have no idea what being poor in America is about. And, all indications are that this ignorance will increase over time as the invisible poor are blamed for their own conditions.

"We must make our choice. We may have democracy,
or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,
but we can't have both."  

--Justice Louis Brandeis

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The "American Way" -- Learning Lessons From the Man of Steel

As a kid, I used to watch episodes of the series "The Adventures of Superman" on black and white television. From 1952 to 1958, George Reeves played Clark Kent/Superman, the Man of Steel who battled crooks, gangsters, and other villains in the fictional city of Metropolis. Of course, the show was based on the legendary comic book series published by National Comics Publications which date back to 1938.

Each episode started with the music of the "Superman Theme" and this stirring narration:

"Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! ("Look! Up in the sky!" "It's a bird!" "It's a plane!" "It's Superman!")...

"Yes, it's Superman... strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Superman... who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!"

What American kid didn't love this show that proved to us that truth and justice prevailed in the United States. As children, we learned many a civics lesson from Superman, and we believed in the promised land of equality and justice not for a few, but for all.

Perhaps, then it was a black and white world not only in relation to the television screen but also in the absolute division between good and bad behavior. Superman used to speak straight to us in simple terms that helped mold our concept of being good, responsible citizens. It may have been a fictional show, but we kids believed.

Consider this message from the Man of Steel:

"Dreams save us. Dreams lift us up and transform us. And on my soul I swear... until my dream of a world where dignity, honor and justice become the reality we all share... I’ll never stop fighting. Ever."

When you grew up with parents from what Tom Brokaw called "the Greatest Generation," they constantly reinforced "Superman values" in your life. Time and time again, your parents made sure to chaperone your activities, preach important ethics, monitor your whereabouts, and discipline you when necessary. Being a kid in the 1950s, you understood the need for positive beliefs and important ideals that would eventually mold your being as a positive, loving person. After all, Superman wouldn't have it any other way, and he could defeat all evil.

Truth and justice are synonymous in that one cannot function properly without the other. When either becomes skewed or falsely manipulated, there is no longer "an American Way." And, the most insidious manipulation occurs when those in places of trust betray us. For example, when a doctor, a judge, a lawyer, a policeman, or a politician soils the system, humans suffer terrible consequences. As Jim Croce so aptly put it in his song: "You don't tug on Superman's cape." In essence, Croce means you simply do not smear the basics of freedom.

But, what has become of our Superman belief system now when we find ourselves battling with villains within the very elements we are supposed to respect and to honor? I believe it simply goes to hell. Those capable of standing up against inequality and injustice face overwhelming odds because many wrong ideals are so firmly engrained in the system that the abuse is passé. Freedom is not as treasured by common people as is manipulation and control of the masses by those in power. Even those good individuals in the system are indifferent to the sins of their associates.

I have never grown up. I admit it. At age 64, I still, in many respects, believe in the power and might of the fictional Superman, an incredible being who defends the lofty vision of the American way of life. The poor, the needy, the underprivileged, the ignored -- all of these folks need to find the spirit to fight their own "never-ending battles," and they need to discover ways in which to do so with honest love and determination that will not fail to disrupt the unfair power structure that has a boot on their necks.

I remember how reserved and meek Clark Kent appeared, but I also remember how Superman, his alter-ego, defeated evil with his strength and stamina. Isn't a real-life hero like that? Most of them I have ever known are able to deal with situations on two levels -- reservation and unwavering lionhearted courage.

We need to be able to discern the kryptonite of injustice that threatens our free existence and we need to be determined to stand up against it at all costs. The "talk" is cheap, but the Superman "walk" requires great expense -- mainly the expense of untold time and peaceful effort.

"Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice
and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Twisted "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"

As children you are taught to respect your parents, your teachers, and your elders. You are also encouraged to respect rules, laws, traditions, and the feelings of other people. As you mature, you inevitably develop great respect for people whom you consider to exhibit exemplary character, and, at the same time, you lose respect for those you discover to have erred in some manner which is repulsive to you.

Our English word respect is derived directly from the Latin word respectus meaning "regard, a looking at." As you "look at" someone and discover who they are and what they do, you must thoroughly investigate them to accurately judge them worthy of your respect.

Judging someone at first sight or upon first meeting is fraught with potential misinterpretations. And, you are often prone to judge those you don't even know. You may even give respect to celebrities and popular people without regard for their true characters.

In truth, human beings are complex creations that are not easily judged from afar or from casual meetings. You should carefully examine a person whom you deem worthy of respect. While you may perceive qualities deserving of respect differently from others, true character depends upon truth, integrity, and consistency.

Thus, respect is acknowledged as an epistemic virtue: a virtue relating to knowledge and cognition and to its degree of validation. Still, respect is both subjective and objective. You tend to gravitate toward others with similar views as you assign those people respect.

American author, critic, and scholar William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943) once said: "The final test of a gentleman is his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him." When you degrade or disrespect others for lack of reason, you dehumanize them, and this may escalate and cause serious social conflict.

German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), a central figure in modern philosophy, was "the first major Western philosopher to put respect for persons, including oneself as a person, at the very center of moral theory, and his insistence that persons are ends in themselves with an absolute dignity who must always be respected has become a core ideal of modern humanism and political liberalism."

("Respect." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. February 04, 2014)

Your Right to Respect

I believe we live in a time where any right to respect you believe you have -- being treated with dignity, with courtesy, with honor, with love -- is most often viewed in terms of your power, your money, and your position. This twisted judgment denies admiration and even tolerance to those less fortunate.

Denying respect to "those other people" because of their low social class effectively prevents their active participation in the community and thwarts individual development so crucial to guaranteeing integration into their cultural advancement. Strong division is certain without common respect and the simple acknowledgment of absolute equality.

Perhaps, as a human being, the respect you assume others hold for you is merely a figment of your imagination. It seems so many now respect qualities associated with roughness and domination. They practice intimidation of others as they seek to gain a higher place in the pecking order. To me, it is apparent that being "bad" is the new "being good."

If you believe you are respected by someone, I assure you, you can lose that standing in a heartbeat. Make a mistake or disagree with a view and you are no longer respected. Understand that a person tends to see his respect for you in terms of what he can derive from the mutual association. When that dwindles, for any reason, then he begins to think of you as defective and unworthy of common dignity. Without respect, you become refuse in the dump of disregard.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Megan Lancaster -- Lack of Active Participation For the Stigmatized Missing

Imagine the unspeakable agony of having a loved one still missing for over two years (since April 3, 2013). Then, consider all the hundreds of false hopes that have arisen during that time and enduring these continual "ups and downs" of elation and depression. It would be enough for most people to say, "We just have to move on and let the past be."

That is not the case for the family of Megan Lancaster, a local missing woman and mother of a nine year-old son. She was 25 years-old at the time of her disappearance. Her family vows never to stop their phenomenal search for Megan. They have actually opened their arms wide to include concern and help in searches for other missing local people.

Before she went missing, Megan had experienced a life troubled by drugs, addiction, and prostitution. The stigma of that lifestyle is an undeniable hindrance in efforts to find her. Yet, the family has fought public reproach and has conducted a series of Herculean efforts to find Megan -- on-going searches, investigations, public events, walks, and many other active endeavors since Megan was last seen.

Kadie Lancaster, her sister-in-law and best friend said, "It broke my heart to see her go down that road (of addiction) because I knew what she could be. I knew how she could change her life. God bless her, she just couldn't beat it."

Addiction is something Megan had in common with three Ross County women who've disappeared in the last year: Charlotte Trego, Wanda Lemons, and Tiffany Sayre. Kadie wants to help find all of them. She insisted, “They are human beings. They are not disposable."

Finally, giving the investigation a huge boost, the FBI has recently entered a task force now looking for similarities between three missing persons cases in Chillicothe (Charlotte Trego, Wanda Lemons, and Tiffany Sayre), two in Columbus, and those in the Portsmouth area.

The federal investigation is possibly the best news the Lancasters have heard, and they are begging anyone with clues to Megan's disappearance to call the Chillicothe Police or the FBI hotline. Here is the contact from the Chillicothe Police:

The Missing Person joint Task Force now has a phone number and email for anyone that has information regarding our missing persons. The number, (740) 774-FIND (3463), has a voicemail system. If an investigator does not answer, please leave a message and the call will be followed up on. Anyone having information that needs immediate attention should call the PD at 740-773-1191. The email for the taskforce is

There is still a reward being offered through Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers for information regarding the missing persons.

 Anonymous tips can be made through Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers by calling (740)773-TIPS or (800)222-TIPS, by texting keyword LOWDOWN to CRIMES (274637) or on their website at

Late last Thursday afternoon, Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware told the Portsmouth Daily Times after meeting with Ross County authorities, "there is apparently no correlation to any women missing in Scioto County."

Ware said as of this time, the Portsmouth Police Department "is not an active participant in the working group or task force that has been set up by Ross County authorities, but he said in the best interest of the public, the Portsmouth Police Department will continue to communicate with members of the working group to exchange information that may be of importance to their investigations as well as any investigations in which such exchange could result in bringing closure to the families and resolution to open investigations."

(Frank Lewis. "Search continues for missing Ross County women."
Portsmouth Daily Times. June 15, 2015)

This news is not deterring brother Jeremy and sister-in-law Kadie Lancaster. In an effort to raise community interest about information concerning all of the missing people from Scioto County to Franklin County, they are holding yet another event titled "In Plain Sight... Help Break the Chains" on Sunday, July 12, in Portsmouth's Tracy Park.

The event will feature awareness of human trafficking and drug addiction, community support, food, music, activities for children, and vendors. All money raised will help support the missing in the community.

I hope "active participation" from the local and state communities will unite efforts to solve these cases of missing persons. What could be more important than to take an active role in all efforts to save human lives and to convict criminals still on the loose who threaten us all?

The Night

by Hilaire Belloc

Still a mystery,
I can’t figure out;
Race home from work,
Where life is without.

I race to see you,
And hold you to me;
My mind says you’re there,
And my heart won’t see.

I open the door,
It’s still a surprise:
You’re not there,
And tears fill my eyes.

I need someone,
Or call on the phone;
But nothing breaks the silence,
Of these walls made of stone.

I punish myself,
By refusing to eat:
Depression is silent,
I hear my heart beat.

Where can I go,
Or should I stay:
Shy to choose,
In bed I lay.

Time will pass,
And the dark sets in;
Lying there wishing,
I could still touch your skin.

Lying there hurting,
I wish I could die;
Missing you so much,
Again I start to cry.

Sometimes I wonder,
If you even know;
The way that I need you,
Would you still go.

I can’t sleep now,
Again a long night;
Are you this lonely?
Do you share in my fright?