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June 2011 Archives

the movie "hot coffee" premiers on HBO, June 27th.

The real story about "big business" versus the little guy is best told through the HBO movie HOT COFFEE premiering Monday June 27th at 9:00 PM, here in the Lehigh Valley and across the country. Previously, In February, I posted that I would announce  when the movie would be released. Go to "Hot Coffee" for a preview of this great film which exposes the real propaganda machine behind the creation of the myth about the famous case involving the woman who was burned at McDonald's when superheated coffee caused her serious burns. This movie received critical acclaim at the Sundance Film festival for its true and accurate revelations regarding how corporate America used this episode to frighten everyone about a personal injury explosion which was sure to bankrupt everyone. Well,  after the last few years, the only question I have is -  who really did bankrupt America? I think we all know that answer, and it wasn't personal injury lawsuits. Dennis F Feeley    

lack of public interest leads to loss of news sources

Today's New York Times reported some very disturbing statistics about the state of investigative journalism across the Lehigh Valley and the nation. There are fewer and fewer reporters available to cover all of the important governmental decisions being made at local and state levels. It's no surprise to any of us who read our local Morning Call and Express-Times that the paper is getting thin enough to slide through a mail slot. It's no different for those who get their daily news fix through on-line services. We have turned into a country that seems to have less need for being informed about those decisions which will affect the quality of public services which include issues involving everything from education to pollution. The hallmark of good governance is accountability, and I don't mean just the tabloid stuff about political scandals for which there is no coverage shortage. I am talking about good investigative journalism without the opinion stuff. We have no shortage of talking heads with personal opinions about everything. What I call entertainment news. I am not sure if the problem is lack of interest about these issues or lack of serious journalists to cover the stories. Just about every night there is a township meeting somewhere where community input keeps all of our local officials in tune with the voters. Decisions about school calendars and curriculum and land development and taxing issues, etc. etc. are discussed and votes After the revolutionary war our forefathers believed that it would be the mighty power of the pen that would keep all of the citizens informed should some dark force attempt to undermine our guiding principles. Bottom line - democracy works best when everyone participates - and without the sources from which we can get the knowledge needed to cast our vote we are in trouble. Between the Revolution and the Civil War this country grew like none other in the history of modern society. Citizens demanded public work projects to build roads, schools and protective services. They freely gathered everywhere to discuss, argue and unite about what was needed in each community. Political speeches were public events attended by everyone. These forums gave the average citizen not only a way to discuss important political issues but also to stay in touch. Guys like Horace Greeley and other journalist became champions of the people who relied on their reporting of events. In a country, which prides itself on freedom of expression, we should be concerned that there are fewer sources and fewer news journalists to deliver the facts affecting our future. Dennis F Feeley

what congressman weiner should have known?

the past we have posted on some of the legal issues relating to social networking because of what we post on our sites. Recently, I was asked to plan and teach a course to lawyers about these very issues. Our seminar was taught by lawyers and those who host websites and social media sites. It was amazing how many of the attendees were relatively clueless about  how the technology works,  and most importantly, how  these sites can involve grave consequences for their clients - which is you.  My worst fears were confirmed again this week as the Anthony Weiner matter unravels.  How is it possible that a U.S. Congressman could have made such a novice mistake? The moral and ethical  issues aside for the moment - The Congressman was pushing buttons without knowing what they do and now the ship is crashing. Facebooking, tweeting and blogging, along with all of the other instant ways of sharing information have consequences, and I don't mean short term consequences. I think we sometimes confuse electronic mail (e-mail) with social networking postings. If you send an e-mail to 10 of your best friends it is still relatively secure. Sure, it can be forwarded to others but not to the whole world with a single push of a button. Not only that, but e-mails have certain legal protections attached to them associated with the First Amendment.  Our courts are ruling that social networking exchanges like Facebook and Twitter do not have any such protections. When you share a photo or good story about that great night out with your friends, remember it's there forever and can be shared and passed along with relative ease. This is why the social networking sources use the word "publish" to describe what happened to your post. Think of posting like what gets published in the newspaper. It's a public document once it's out there and there is no taking it back. Congressman Weiner tried to take it back, but there are "no take backs" in the world of social networking. That having been said - Social networking has many advantages, and is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family and get reacquainted with old friends. Have fun but remember - don't say anything that you would not be comfortable with the whole world knowing. Dennis F Feeley     

Yet, another tractor trailer death on our Lehigh Valley roads

Over the last year I have posted a number of times about the on-going rash of truck accidents on our Lehigh Valley roads and highways. Yesterday another horrific accident occurred on Route 309 in the Tamaqua area. A 71 year old woman was killed and her husband seriously injured in the crash. According to the Morning Call  a Hess Express tractor trailer truck failed to stop and smashed into the back of the car and pushed it into a utility van. The photos on the Call's site are very graphic. These poor people did not stand a chance. How fast was the truck travelling to cause this kind of damage on a strip of highway which is in a commercial area? How inattentive or distracted was this driver? The investigation continues and charges are pending.   Barely a week goes by without a truck crash in the Lehigh Valley these days. There can be no other explanation then this driver was distracted by something. Cell phones, satellite systems and loads of other equipment make the dashboard of these trucks look like something from star wars. Please be careful this summer as traffic in our once sleepy Lehigh Valley continues to cause congestion, and practice defensive driving techniques. Dennis F Feeley  

cell phones cause cancer scare

Today's Allentown and Easton papers, as well as most newscasts are filled with the imposing doom about to befall us all. Yes - once again -  dangers associated with cell phone usage are a major topic of conversation. This time it's the World Health Organization, which by all expert accounts is one of the most reliable scientific groups, has placed the radiation emitted by cell phones as  "possibly" carcinogenic to humans. What does the word "possibly" mean in this context? All of the reports I read (and I read several) seem confused by what this really means. The WHO did not do any new studies but just examined existing data. Everyone agrees that a certain amount of radiation - like the stuff which comes out of your microwave -  also comes out of your cell phone when you are talking (apparently more of it while connecting then actually talking) and goes into your brain. Hum - Doesn't sound good to me. Apparently this type of radiation can cause a tumor called a giloma.  Other scientific experts are predicting that cognitive function and memory could be effected. The US Food and Drug Administration has previously said there is no reason for concern.  The European Environmental Agency is demanding more studies and according to CNN  has said that cell phone use could be as big a risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline. Some cell phones actually contain warnings. My Iphone came with a warning that I should not hold the phone against my head while talking. Well - where should I put it? Don't panic just yet. The totality of the information I read says there are not enough studies or statistics from which to draw solid conclusion. There is one thing of which I am certain and to which there is no disagreement. Texting or talking on a cell phone while driving causes accidents and injury and death. Let's continue the investigation into whether cell phones cause cancer but let's work on the more urgent problem which our Pennsylvania legislature is seemingly ignoring. Dennis F Feeley   

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