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Propaganda still has power over Americans

In Dayton Ohio News, Health, Local News, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, State News, Uncategorized, World News on October 27, 2014 at 9:42 pm

DIH LOGOPolitics and religion both thrive on propaganda, some of it factual, some creatively manufactured. Either way, people will buy into almost anything when you hit them at the gut level. Emotions ride highest when fear is used as the manipulation point.

In 1938, Orson Welles managed to terrify the radio listening public as he destroyed America by Martian invasion in his version of H.G. Wells’, “War of the Worlds.” Of course, it was all a Halloween offering, a prank, “the radio equivalent of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out from behind a bush and saying, ‘boo,’” as Welles put it. But it was, for lack of any other analogy, an hour of “propaganda;” a radio play written to sound exactly like genuine news bulletins, and people fell for it.

According to the dictionary definition, propaganda is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, often used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. A deceptive radio broadcast may not be likely to have the same effect today, but if the current Ebola virus scare is any indication, Americans are still far from immune to the effects of well-crafted media spin.

With virtually no qualified medical information being distributed within the propaganda (probably the best word to describe most of the information being circulated), politicians, the media, and the endless barrage of know-it-all cable TV commentators are spreading speculation, misinformation and fear, unabated.

As one might expect, election season has to be one of the most prominent times for the spread of heavy-handed, negative propaganda. Despite laws to limit how “misleading” political ads can be, there is still so much being dispersed that it staggers the imagination of the thinking person as to how it is even allowed.

With fewer people concerned about the accuracy of news reporting these days, believing any blog they run across on Google, media spin no longer needs even to be well-crafted for the masses to fall victim to its intent. There are still, bafflingly, people out there who think that what they see on the news or Internet must be the truth. Not so much “fact,” but truth.

Is the Ebola scare really the menace it's made out to be by politicians and media?

Is the Ebola scare really the menace it’s made out to be by politicians and media?

The spread of propaganda does not require facts but implies truth. Make enough people believe in an idea, factual or not, and it becomes “truth,” at least to those people. Once spread, that truth ends up being the predominant viewpoint and changing the minds of those who fall for it is a challenge, to say the least. Oddly enough, this is the same basis upon which every religion in history has been established.

As pointed out many times in “Deer In Headlines,” decisions are rarely made from factual information but more often based on emotional satisfaction. What makes a person feel good is far more powerful than a list of unemotional statistics. Once again, fear can be one of the most powerful emotions of them all and that is exactly the point.

Without fear, propaganda has much less of an effect. Political propaganda plays on the fear of the voter, suggesting that he or she will suffer under the rule of the opposing candidate – higher taxes, less food on the table, fewer jobs, and so on. In religious propaganda, the fear is purgatory, Hell, or whatever the particular denomination chooses to promote as the reason to show up every Sunday and ante up in the plate as it goes by.

There is, without question, a serious problem concerning the spread of the Ebola virus in the United States. But there is also, sadly, a tremendous opportunity here for politicians to cash in on the fears of those who are probably already paranoid about such things, enhancing the real threat enough to justify the need for such publicity.

Those fifteen minutes of fame come with a high cost, mainly in the stress and emotional trauma experienced by the people who trust their government to take care of them. Avoiding future panic means that people simply need to be cautious about what they take as “fact,” versus what they believe to be “truth.”

 

The Jamestown Comet.com editor Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at deerinheadlines.com.

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Gainsay of Gaza school bombing not anti-Semitic

In history, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology, Uncategorized, World News on August 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm

DIH LOGOThere’s an inherent problem with “political correctness” when it extends to speaking out against bad policy or horrific acts against the innocent. When the super-sensitive “left” can’t accept that people can dislike someone’s opinion without literally hating them, any hope of long-term, productive dialogue or constructive discourse is totally squelched.

When President Obama was elected, people became so obsessed about his being our first African American president, that to even mention a disagreement with his policies labeled one a racist. Naturally, that’s ridiculous. But, for the majority of his first term anyone who argued against him was considered to simply be hateful and bigoted.

We’re in a similar, uncomfortable, situation now with the problems going on in Gaza and the alleged bombing of civilian targets by both Israel and Hamas. There is no question that what’s going on there is terrible and it’s a given that Israel has suffered its share of problems in its short existence as a nation. But, criticism of their tactics in the current conflict does not make one anti-Semitic.

Because Hamas is seen by many as a “terrorist” organization, it is therefore more acceptable to criticize them publicly, but that’s not the debate. It’s not anti-Semitic to state, “It’s wrong for Israel to bomb civilian targets and kill innocent people, including children.” Anyone who thinks that it’s ok to bomb kids regardless of the purpose may be hinging on sociopathic mentality.

Many United Nations officials condemned the bombing of a UN-run school in Gaza, including  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, seen here.

Many United Nations officials condemned the bombing of a UN-run school in Gaza, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, seen here.

After a United Nations-operated school was bombed in Gaza City last week, killing 20 and wounding dozens, including children, The Washington Post reported that the U.N. officially condemned Israel for the bombing with UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl saying, “I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces. This is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.”

There are, of course, those who have accused the U.N., as an organization, of being anti-Semitic since its inception, but this is not an indication of that. This is a statement from the commissioner-general communicating that the world group disagrees with the Israeli tactic and would prefer they try to find a peaceful solution.

Considering that the GPS coordinates of the school had been reportedly sent to Israel at least 17 times, at this point it’s Israel’s own actions drawing negative opinion and squelching sympathy for their cause. Still, it’s seen as distasteful to speak against the Jewish nation without being labeled racist and therein lays the problem.

Will it always be that with any minority or historically trodden-down group, negative opinion or public critique will draw for the speaker undo hatred or have them forever labeled racist, anti-Semitic or worse? Is political correctness always this blind, even in the court room? Yes. It always will be. Take, for instance, mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes here in America.

Statistics suggest that the vast majority of drug criminals in the U.S. are African American. Since there are often mandatory minimum prison sentences on the books for various levels of possession, sale and use of street narcotics, by the logic of some, which makes mandatory minimums racist. Are they? That’s a debate for another time, but the same logic is at work here as well.

There seems to be a belief among modern liberals and conservatives alike that freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, so long as you only say what they want to hear. Anything that goes against the grain on either side of the aisle will earn a swift retribution for the originator of the message. Oddly, it’s always been that way, but now, with social media, the Internet and an instant news cycle, there’s just more of a platform for argument.

Speaking one’s mind about an atrocity is the purview of any conscientious observer. Whether someone is doing so from a racial bias is another matter entirely. However, if those committing the atrocity expect sympathy in some way, it’s unlikely that they will achieve any of their goals by fueling the fires of hate through horrific actions, regardless of whether they believe it to be the means to the end.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer syndicated by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Godzilla: King of the anti-nuclear message

In Entertainment, Environment, Movies, National News, Opinion, Politics, Science, Technology, Uncategorized, World News on May 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm

 

DIH LOGOIn 1955, the Japanese film company, Toho, Inc., introduced America to “Godzilla, King of the Monsters.” The bulky, green monster terrified audiences in the marginally familiar form of an enormous T-Rex, with notable size differences, muscular body and bigger arms and all brought to life by a puppeteer in a rubbery body suit. Originally called by the Japanese word, “Gojira,” meaning “gorilla whale,” the monster was so successful he’s been a worldwide star since his first black and white appearance in Tokyo.

Uncertain how a Japanese film would fare only a decade after the end of World War II, American exhibitors insisted an “American” element be added to make the dubbed, foreign monster flick more relatable to U.S. audiences. So, who better to report on the devastation than one of the most trusted faces on television at the time, Perry Mason himself, Raymond Burr. Not included in the Japanese version, Burr played an American journalist reporting on Godzilla’s attack into a tape recorder from the safety of a nearby office building.

During the 1960s and 70s Godzilla made his way into color features where his ominous appearance was softened a bit and his character reworked a bit from a menace to more of a hero as he battled other creatures threatening Tokyo from Monster Island. His gigantic, “30-story” upright posture, signature stomp, glowing dorsal plates and fiery breath were a hit with movie goers around the world.

Gozilla's original appearance in Japan, 1954. He appeared in America a year later.

Gozilla’s original appearance in Japan, 1954. He appeared in America a year later.

In 1985, Godzilla reappeared in a more serious, direct sequel to the original. Although the monster had made countless appearances in other, sillier films, like “Godzilla vs. King Kong,” and “Godzilla vs. Mothra,” this reprisal brought Godzilla back to his roots – as a devastating, uncontrollable statement on the increasing nuclear scare at the peak of the Cold War.

Although it was no longer necessary to smooth over American audiences, Raymond Burr reprised his role from the original film in a few scenes added to the U.S. release to provide continuity and attract a nostalgic audience. “Godzilla 1985,” did well at the box office and even better in the newly-minted home video market.

Fast forward a few years to 1998, when the monster was licensed by Tri-Star Pictures for an American, almost campy, version set in New York City. Studied by a worm biologist played by the likable Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off / The Producers), Godzilla takes up residence in Manhattan and is hunted by the US Military who manages to lay waste to everything except their target, even wrecking the iconic Chrysler Building. A liberally-preachy, anti-nuclear storyline and a totally computer-animated Godzilla, that didn’t look or act much like the original, completely failed to lure audiences.

Over the years, Godzilla appeared in 28 films and an American cartoon show. He even achieved the honor of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But the origins of the character are deep in Japan’s nuclear pain and far more serious than most people might know.

Godzilla as he will look in the 2014 version.

Godzilla as he will look in the 2014 version.

Like the newest American incarnation set for release in May 2014, Godzilla is portrayed as a mutation directly resulting from nuclear testing, emphasizing the need to do away with these weapons. He was, essentially, the symbol of everything that can go wrong with nuclear power and weaponry.

The underlying message in the more serious Godzilla story lines is that use of nuclear weapons and power has unimaginable consequences. A mutation that can cause a giant monster with nuclear powered breath is a pretty good personification.

In any case, the new film is sticking closer to the original concept, not just in story but in the look and actions of the monster himself. He’s a rampaging beast and the addition of Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, adds another level of drama to a once-campy character.

In no loss of irony, Japan is the only country in the world whose people have experienced the horrible result of nuclear devastation and America is the only country who has ever inflicted it on anyone else. It’s somehow fitting that people from both countries come together to create a fictional character that personifies the horror that can result.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business contributor to the WDTN-TV2 program, Living Dayton. More at http://www.gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

It takes a maverick to make a difference

In Education, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, Science, sociology, State News, Uncategorized, World News on March 24, 2014 at 7:59 am

DIH LOGOAccording to one definition, a maverick is, “an unorthodox or independent-minded person.” But a maverick is also someone who chooses not to give in to the pressures of society, breaking ranks, not for personal gain, but in an effort to improve conditions or expand knowledge for everyone.

In the 16th Century, the now revered scientist Galileo Galilei would certainly have fit the definition of maverick. At a time when the church kept tight control over the public’s understanding of the world around them, Galileo’s challenge that the earth was not actually the center of the universe but instead part of a solar system with our sun at its center was controversial.

Of course he was eventually proven right, but standing against such a powerful entity as the Catholic Church sent Galileo to be tried for heresy. There are countless cases like this throughout history, most related to individuals who chose to challenge long-standing beliefs in politics or religion.

Today, as in Galileo’s time, society is taught and expected, from an early age, to keep quiet; never to upset the status quo for fear of retribution. Those willing to stand up and be heard shape the most change in the world, but often pay a high price for their contribution to progress. Much of what society deems acceptable is dependent on one’s position and the sphere of influence there encompassed.

whatsrightFor example, it is unacceptable in many religious groups for a married couple to divorce. They are expected to remain together indefinitely for the good of the church, their families and so on, regardless of the situation, even in cases of physical abuse. It stands to reason, therefore, that the first few individuals who challenged these rules were certainly dealt with harshly. Fortunately, over time, this type of censure has eased somewhat, at least publically.

On the whole, it is difficult to greatly influence public perception and alter the behavior of a society or to get people to remove the blinders of ideology and accept the possibility that there are other ways of thinking. Ignorance, prejudice and misunderstanding usually lead to fear and resistance.

It should also be made clear that religious groups are certainly not alone in such ridiculously judgmental behavior. Anyone who challenges established norms can find themselves on the receiving end of some pretty unpleasant retribution, particularly in the workplace.

Often employees are never to question authority or decisions made by their superiors, otherwise face reprisal. But what does one do when superiors are actually breaking the law? In 1989, Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Act. The law is designed to shield workers against retaliatory personnel action – meaning, essentially, it keeps them from being fired – for “blowing the whistle” on illegal activities perpetrated by their employers.

Unfortunately, there is no such protection for the everyday person who simply wants to do the right thing. From Moses and Lady Godiva to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, taking a stand to alter deeply engrained social beliefs has never been a task for the weak-hearted.

Most people are discouraged by how much retribution might be taken out on them for going against the grain. Sometimes, however, just standing up for the little things can help to affect larger changes. Making a difference in the boardroom, at school or even in the hallowed halls of church might ruffle some feathers, but if the purpose is worthwhile, it would be wrong not to do something.

So, what about those by-standers who agree with the maverick but are afraid to stand with her? If only one other person supported the cause then another would as well, then another, and another. That’s how revolutions are started in the face of resistance. So the next time you see an injustice being done and you have the opportunity to act, what will it be: Maverick or conformist?  Ω

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business contributor to the WDTN-TV2 program, “Living Dayton.” More at www.gerydeer.com.

Jamestown native Fred Claire announced as special advisor to Baseball New Zealand

In Business, Dayton Ohio News, Jobs, Local News, National News, News Media, Sports News, Uncategorized, World News on March 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm
fredclaire1

Fred Claire

PASADENA, CA – Baseball New Zealand this week has secured the services of Jamestown, Ohio native, Fred Claire, former Executive Vice-President and General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball organization, as a special advisor to the organization.

Besides his long tenure with the Dodgers, Claire is a longtime mentor for many executives in the professional and international sports communities and Baseball New Zealand CEO Ryan Flynn is one of Claire’s baseball “disciples.”

“We’ve just scored a large victory with the addition of Fred as a key advisor and stakeholder in our program,” said Flynn. “Securing the services of someone with such a lengthy baseball pedigree, someone as respected in the sport as he is a huge coup for the sport in this country.”

Flynn said Claire has been advising the country’s national body unofficially for some time, but added that the program is now at a critical juncture and the timing is right to formalize this key relationship and take it to the next level.

In a distinguished 30-year career with the Dodgers, Claire served the team as a publicity director; vice president of public relations, promotions and marketing; Executive Vice President in charge of day-to-day operations; and Executive Vice President and General Manager in charge of player personnel.

A shop keeper’s son starting out at the tail-end of the Great Depression, Fred Claire was born on October 5, 1935 in Jamestown, Ohio. His mother, Mary Frances Harper, was born and raised in Jamestown where her father operated Harper’s Drug Store.

Ironically, given the town’s modern history, his grandfather’s store was eventually destroyed by fire. Claire’s father, Marston, later opened another drug store on the opposite corner of the village. “My Dad’s drug store was simply known as Claire’s Corner Drug Store,” Claire said.

As a young boy, he lived in the apartment above the store with his parents, his brother Doug and one sister named Lynn. With his family, Claire enjoyed fishing trips to Canada and nearby Indian Lake and began his business career as a young entrepreneur. “My brother and I trapped muskrats,” Claire recalled. “And I had a newspaper route delivering the Xenia Daily Gazette.”

Claire suggested that his passion for sports came from early summer mornings in Jamestown when friends would throw pebbles at his second-floor apartment window. This was, according to Claire, “the indication that it was time to get up, get the baseball equipment and head out to the diamond at Silvercreek School.” He was referring to the historic school at the corner of SR 72 and South Charleston road in Jamestown which was razed in 2013 but, for many years, served as the Greeneview primary and junior high building.

Claire joined the Dodgers in 1969 and he proved to be an award-winning executive at every stage of his career. Claire was directing the team’s marketing efforts when the Dodgers first hit the three-million mark in attendance and established a period of record-setting attendance figures.

In April of 1987, Claire was named general manager of the Dodgers and when the team won the World Series in 1988 he was selected Major League Baseball’s “Executive of the Year” by The Sporting News. Claire became the fifth Dodger executive in the team’s history to win the award, following Larry MacPhail (1939), Branch Rickey (1947), Walter O’Malley (1955) and Buzzie Bavasi (1959).

Since his departure from the Dodgers in June of 1998, Claire has maintained an active schedule as an educator and as a consultant to a variety of businesses in addition to an on-going civic involvement. He is a partner in the baseball analytic company AriBall.com.

“Having someone on board with the experience and expertise that Fred Claire has is a huge win for this country and our fast-growing baseball program,” Flynn said. “Bouncing ideas and strategy off of a man with a great history of baseball experience and successes in the game, plus his ability to bring key people and organizations together, will pay dividends for many years for Baseball New Zealand, and we couldn’t be more fortunate with this development.”

“I’ve always had an interest in growing the game of baseball and to have the opportunity with Baseball New Zealand and to work with Ryan Flynn and his group is very exciting,” said Claire. Claire had made a trip to Australia in the late 1970’s and helped to set the stage for a connection between the Dodgers and the Australian Baseball Federation.  Dodger coaches Monty Basgall, Red Adams and Guy Wellman traveled to Australia a few years after Claire’s visit to give clinics and promote baseball.

“I liked the fact that the baseball officials in Australia were growing the game from the standpoint of placing an emphasis on youngsters learning and playing the game  and this is what I see happening in New Zealand today,” said Claire.

During his 12 seasons as the Dodger general manager, the team signed pitchers Hideo Nomo from Japan and Chan Ho Park from South Korea. Nomo was one of five consecutive National League Rookies of the Year during Claire’s tenure, joining Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi and Todd Hollandsworth.

For more on Fred ClaireReference: Fred Claire, “30 Years in Dodger Blue”

So many topics, so little substance

In history, Local News, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, World News on December 11, 2013 at 8:30 pm

DIH LOGOAs the year draws to a close, I’ve been planning the final few topics for Deer In Headlines in 2013. So far, I’ve got ten political topics, six personal, nine general and two holiday-related; none of which jump out at me as interesting to you, my readers. It could be I’ve decided that the absence of a subject is a topic in and of itself. Let me explain.

How much time each day do you spend thinking or worrying (not always the same activity) about things you can’t control? Are you readily preoccupied with global issues that have little or nothing to do with your daily life? What is it that really motivates you to get out of bed each day? I think we are just spending far too much time worried about nonsense.

I think maybe we are overly concerned with problems and situations that 1) have nothing to do with us directly, or 2) about which we can do absolutely nothing. Focusing on these things only wastes time and energy and takes our attention from far more pressing matters.

For example, a great leader was lost last week when Nelson Mandela passed away. Strangely, to me at least, it wasn’t really that much of a shock; the guy was 95, after all. What was shocking, however, was how little time the media and bloggers (no, they’re not interchangeable) spent discussing the Obama selfie photo and the fake sign language translator instead of focusing of the former South African president and his achievements.

It’s truly maddening that our attention was overtaken not on the legacy of a true hero but on how to politicize whether the president should have been smiling during the memorial. Think about it, that’s kind of a big deal. He was taking a cell phone picture with the prime ministers of Great Britain and Denmark. He had good reason to smile, even if Mrs. Obama seemed indifferent. But I think even that was out of context. We have no clue what she was thinking or what happened just before and after the picture.

President Obama speaks at Nelson Mandela memorial with reported "fake" sign language interpreter. Photo Courtesy AFP, Pedro Ugarte.

President Obama speaks at Nelson Mandela memorial with reported “fake” sign language interpreter. Photo Courtesy AFP, Pedro Ugarte.

Given the state of the world today, instead of criticizing them, we should be grateful that there are two world leaders willing to be in the same picture with the American president in the first place. I believe Mr. Mandela would have been gratified that people were getting along and smiling as they celebrated his life, including Obama’s handshake with Cuban leader Raul Castro. At least we’re not shooting at each other.

Every day we’re confronted with bad news. I work in the media but try to ignore much of the negative. I have enough of my own problems and I needn’t concern myself with the ridiculousness of the latest Washington scandal or whether the president should have shaken hands with a dictator. Who cares? No one but the pundits, that’s who.

Pundits are supposed “experts” in a particular field called upon for comment by the news media. Sadly, most of these so-called experts are nothing of the kind. They’re often just celebrities who tend to be publicity hounds and find a way to know something about everything at precisely the right moment. Once again, there we go worrying about things that have nothing to do with us. Why do we care what these people think about anything?

Most pundits are so far removed from average people there is no way they could relate to the trials and tribulations of holding a job, paying a mortgage or trying to determine the source of your next meal. They just don’t get it – and they don’t care.

Taking this back around to the idea of the non-topic, as we slide headlong down that snowy slope into the Christmas holidays, remember to stay focused on what matters to you and yours. Ignore the sensationalized news and the nonsense spewed out of Hollywood. Your life and the lives of your family and friends are what make the most difference in your world so center on those things and you’ll be much happier.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent  contributor to WDTN-TV2’s “Living Dayton” program. More at gerydeer.com.

Former Dayton television journalist Asa George dead at 34

In Dayton Ohio News, Local News, Media, National News, News Media, State News, Uncategorized, World News on September 12, 2013 at 9:34 pm
Asa George

Asa George, on the set of Fox 45 / ABC 22 News, May 2008. Photo by Gery L. Deer

By Gery L. Deer

Editor, The Jamestown Comet

Former Dayton broadcast journalist Asa George was found dead in her suburban Milwaukee home on September 6 after family members expressed concerns to police regarding her safety. According to a report by the Milwaukee Journal, George’s father, who lives in California, had been unable to reach the 34-year-old for four days and called the local police to check on her.

CBS television affiliate WDJT-TV cited a Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office report stating that firefighters entered the home through a window where they found a badly decomposed female body in a tub full of water. A malnourished boxer dog, two empty vodka bottles and numerous prescription medications were reportedly discovered as well. The body was positively identified as that of Asa George on September 12 after dental records were received from Dayton.

The Journal reported that relatives informed investigators that George had battled alcoholism for several years. Family members reportedly told police that her career had suffered greatly because of her drinking problem, and she had received treatment for it several times.

A press release provided by the West Allis Police Department stated, “Officers, detectives and members of the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating to determine the circumstances surrounding this incident to include positive identification and cause/manner of death.”  Although identification has been confirmed, the medical examiner’s office has yet to release a cause of death pending toxicology results.

Asa George was the cover story for the May 29, 2008 edition of the Times Community Newspapers' "Your Home" magazine, written by Gery L. Deer

Asa George was the cover story for the May 29, 2008 edition of the Times Community Newspapers’ “Your Home” magazine, written by Gery L. Deer

Early risers became acquainted with George in 2004, when she became co-anchor on the WKEF-ABC22/WRGT-Fox45 morning news programs. In 2008, Xenia Daily Gazette columnist Gery L. Deer interviewed George for a special spotlight cover story in the Times Community’s Your Home magazine where she opened up about her life and career.

“I was born in Madison, Wisconsin, but only lived there about a year before moving to Houston, Texas,” she said. “I graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism and then on to the University of Salamanca in Spain where I studied Art History and Spanish.” Prior to coming to the Miami Valley, George worked as a reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Austin, Texas.

At the time of the Your Home interview, George seemed content to call Dayton home. “Dayton has been a great place for me,” George said. “I have grown professionally, and people here have been so nice and welcoming. I love the fact that I get to meet so many people, whether through reporting or at charity events.”

George was an avid animal lover and regularly volunteered for the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, doing everything from acting as master of ceremonies at local events to fostering a puppy.  For three consecutive years, she hosted the Furry Scurry and Hair Ball fundraiser events. “Anything the Humane Society needs me to do, I am there for them,” she told Your Home. George was also a great supporter of the local Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Television journalism can be an overwhelmingly busy job, but while in Dayton, George always seemed to find time for friends and family. “I love to spend time with friends and eating out; sushi is my favorite, and I also enjoy cooking,” she once said.

Other relaxing time, she explained, was devoted to more active personal endeavors such as riding her motorcycle, painting and lifting weights.  “I also enjoy boxing and riding my motorcycle,” she said. “I also love to travel.” George left Dayton in 2009 and returned to Wisconsin where she held her anchor position at channel 58, WDJT-TV in Milwaukee, before she became a freelancer in 2011.

During her short broadcast career, George was recognized several times for outstanding work. In 2004, she received the Nebraska Associated Press Award for General News and in 2006 was honored by the Ohio Associated Press.

IMG_6310Editorial Note: I had the privilege of knowing Asa George, but only for a very short time. She was always pleasant, fun and thoughtful, a credit to our profession. In light of this terrible tragedy, I hope she finally has peace and wish for everyone to keep her memory bright and honor her life. She will be missed.

– Gery L. Deer

Definitely not the Weiner the world awaited

In Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology, Uncategorized, World News on July 31, 2013 at 5:47 pm

DIH LOGO

Whoever holds the position as Mayor of New York City carries a level of political power that may be second only to that of the White House. It’s a daunting task requiring political savvy, brains and, eh-hem, character. If Anthony Weiner is the “best” option for that job, we have a sad political landscape in America today.

Regardless of his political accomplishments, this man has made himself into little more than a late night punch line. Perfectly named for receiving a repeated black eye from pundits, Weiner’s online “sextcapades” seem to have no end in sight.

When asked if any more of this material would be uncovered the guy actually said, and this is a quote, “I don’t know.” You don’t know? How can you not know? In the immortal words of Bill Cosby, “Has your head been with you all day?”

weinerismWeiner has become a complete laughing stock and there is absolutely no way he can win an election now. Yet, puzzlingly enough, Bill Clinton was re-elected for a second presidential term following his real-life trysts. In Clinton’s case, there was little more evidence than an accusation from a disgruntled intern – and a stained dress.

In Weiner’s situation you have to wonder how much more his wife is going to take before she walks. Her name is Huma Mahmood Abedin, and she happens to be a high-ranking aide to Hillary Clinton so I’m not sure that’s the best example to follow when it comes to dealing with infidelity. She could ignore Hillary’s playbook though. I’m hearing Tammy Wynette singing, “Stand By Your Man,” when suddenly the record scratches off and Abedin storms off the stage.

Whatever happens, if the democrats re-elect this guy to, well, any office at all, they really are crazy. Either that or they’re incredibly short-sighted and intend to definitively prove that liberals care nothing about character in their candidates.

It’s important to note, however, that there is nothing new about this kind of behavior from powerful executives on either side of the aisle. Expecting otherwise is probably about as unrealistic as thinking a cat is suddenly going to enjoy a bath.

The real issue, with regard to integrity, is that these men (and a few women) flat deny anything ever happened; at least until evidence surfaces to make liars out of them. Subsequently, they’re forced to come clean with a tearful apology and a carefully written statement from the safety of a podium, often with the humiliated wife standing nearby appearing to be supportive.

But as long as the American public keeps giving politicians a pass on this kind of behavior it will continue. Voters seem outraged one minute and re-elect them in the next. It makes no sense.

No one is perfect, least of all those who have chosen a life in the public eye, but when you are charged with representing the best interests of a constituency, you should at least behave like an adult, not an adolescent. Grow up, already.

Beyond that, voters need to have more integrity themselves. It’s time to stop choosing the lesser of, “Who cares?” Our local representatives have much more of an effect on our day-to-day lives than those in Washington and should live up to a much higher standard for that very reason.

But in order for them to be held accountable and to let them know that irresponsible behavior does have an effect on job performance, it takes a message sent from the polling place. There are many more “Weiners” out there, and smartphones and social media will be the professional death of them.

All we can do here on Main Street is try to convince people of higher sense of integrity and civic duty to run for office and help improve things one step at a time. As you visit the fairs and festivals going on throughout the end of summer and into fall, talk to those campaigning there and ask them the hard questions. We deserve better from our representatives but it will only happen if we demand it.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer from Jamestown, Ohio. Deer In Headlines is syndicated by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing. (c) 2013, GLD Enterprises / Gery L. Deer. All Rights Reserved.

Rise in Near-Drowning Incidents Remind Ohioans of the Need for Water Safety

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Local News, World News on July 1, 2013 at 11:33 am
Prevent near drowning injuries with proper safety. (Photo courtesy Ohio.com)

Prevent near drowning injuries with proper safety. (Photo courtesy Ohio.com)

XENIA, OH—A recent analysis of the number of children treated in emergency departments for near drowning incidents has officials at the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Greene County Combined Health District emphasizing the need for safe water practices.

ODH tracks near-drowning incidents, which are reported to the state agency by emergency department personnel on a daily basis. The emergency department data show a clear seasonal trend in near drowning incidents from the months of May-August. Children and youth are at an increased risk for drowning during these summer months. Parents should  closely monitor their children’s play during water activities.

ODH also monitors death certificates to ascertain the number of drowning deaths. In 2012 in Ohio, 29 children and 69 adults died from drowning, according to preliminary ODH death certificate data. According to the Greene County Coroner’s office, there have been only 2 drowning deaths in Greene County in the last 5 years, one in 2008 and one in 2009.

While children can drown in water anywhere, young children (aged 1 to 9) are at greater risk of
drowning in swimming pools while older youth (aged 10 to 19) are at greater risk of drowning in
natural bodies of water and is the second leading cause of death in children aged 0-4 according to the CDC.

“Swimming and water-related activities are a great way to stay fit. There are risks, however, such as water-related illness, sunburn and the risk of drowning,” says Melissa Howell, Health Commissioner for the Greene County Combined Health District.

Here are some important water safety tips:

Fence it off. Install a four–sided isolation fence, with self–closing and self–latching gates, around backyard swimming pools. This can help keep children away from the area when a parent cannot supervise them. Pool fences should  completely separate the house and play area from the pool. If children can gain access to pools through the house or poorly-latched gates, they are at risk of drowning. Door alarms, pool alarms and automatic pool covers can add an extra layer of protection when used properly, but should not replace a fence and good supervision.

Never swim alone. Always have a buddy with you when you swim. It is also good to have a watch buddy as well in the event someone needs to contact emergency personnel.

Be on the lookout. Supervise young children at all times around bathtubs, swimming pools, ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water. Partner with other parents to take turns watching children at swimming pools. While parents often believe they will hear splashing or shouting, drowning is often silent and occurs quickly.

Begin teaching children to swim early. Experts suggest starting swimming lessons after age 4. Local YMCAs offer swimming lessons for children as young as 6 months (with a parent) to adults. Also, please note that water safety programs for infants and young children are not a substitute for good supervision.

Make life jackets a “must.” Make sure all kids wear life jackets (also known as personal flotation devices or PFDs) in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers and ponds, even if they know how to swim. Ohio law requires children under the age of 10 to wear a PFD at all times on boats under 18 feet long, however older children will be safest when they wear PFDs too.

The PFD must be:

• U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III, or V
• In good and serviceable condition
• Of appropriate size
• Securely attached.

Learn CPR. Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and get re-certified every two years. Immediate CPR can help a child stay alive and reduce the chance of brain damage.

Install drain covers and safety releases. To avoid drain entanglement and entrapment in pools and spas, install anti-entrapment drain covers and safety vacuum release systems.
For more information on water safety and other safe and healthy summer practices, please visit: www.odh.ohio.gov. For more information about the Greene County Combined Health District, please visit www.gcchd.org.

Daredevil Performances: Is the spectacle worth the risk?

In Education, Entertainment, history, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, sociology, Technology, television, Theatre, Uncategorized, World News on June 25, 2013 at 6:27 pm

DIH LOGODanger as a spectacle has long been a past time of human culture. Death-defying stunts have graced stages of theatres and circus tents for centuries. Never has there been a more awe-inspiring sight, however, than the dramatic aerobatics of stunt pilots and wing walkers. On Saturday, June 22nd, wing walker Jane Wicker and her pilot Charlie Schwenker died in a fiery crash during a performance at the Dayton Vectren Air Show in Vandalia, Ohio.

Wicker, who had been involved with aerobatics for more than a quarter-century, was sitting on the wing of the inverted plane as it dove, nose-first, into the ground and exploded. The aftermath of the crash left a burning wreck, two people dead and hundreds of spectators horrified.

News of the accident quickly spread around the country, landing on the lead story of every print, broadcast and online media outlet from the New York Daily News to the Huffington Post. Preliminary investigations of the cause of the crash from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are as yet inconclusive.

The very next day, high wire performer Nik Wallenda spent his evening engaged in a heart-stopping, quarter-mile tightrope walk across a 1,500 foot deep section of the Grand Canyon. As a record number of viewers tuned in to the Discovery Channel to watch, they were treated to more than a half hour of listening to Wallenda continually pray or thank God and praising Jesus with nearly every successful step. One might wonder if they would think he’s crazy too.

Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini

From escape artist Harry Houdini to motorcycle stunt rider Robert “Evil” Knievel, daredevils have long attracted crowds of spectators and generated millions upon millions of dollars for their promoters over the years. While Houdini eventually died of a ruptured appendix, he was nearly killed several times by his own hand as a result of escape attempts gone wrong. Many of his compatriots, like Wicker, were not so lucky; which begs the question, is the spectacle worth the risk? Apparently it is because the public keeps going to see them, like sadistic voyeurs almost hoping to see something go horribly wrong.

Local government, concerned about the staggering level of liability involved, does everything it can to discourage people from attempting these kinds of stunts by requiring miles of paperwork and expensive permits before allowing these kinds of activities on public lands. Some simply don’t allow it to happen at all.

Wallenda’s high wire walk, for example, didn’t actually cross over the Grand Canyon, but the gorge of the Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park. His 1,400 foot steel cable was actually suspended over land of the Navajo Nation, near Cameron, Arizona.

Could these daredevils have what Freud called a “death wish,” a desire, often deeply repressed, for self-destruction, accompanied by feelings of depression, hopelessness, and self-reproach? That might be said of Houdini, given his almost obsessive interest in death and the afterlife. But for most everyone else in this line of work, it’s about attention and a desire to push the envelope – that need for the adrenaline rush associated with doing what no one else is brave enough to do (or stupid enough, depending on your point of view).

In the end, there would be no market for these kinds of acts if the public wasn’t thoroughly fascinated by them. As for the performers themselves, it’s probably best to take into account Jane Wicker’s own words.

“Why do I do this? There is nothing that feels more exhilarating or freer to me than the wind and sky rushing by me as the earth rolls around my head,” Wicker once wrote. The day before the crash she told WDTN TV2, “I’m never nervous or scared because I know if I do everything as I usually do everything’s going to be fine.”

For those left behind, there is a great sense of loss when these daring entertainers pass doing what they love. But they will be remembered for their spirit and the smiles on the face of those who sat in awe of their skill and passion to defy the very fabric of nature.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at http://www.deerinheadlines.com.