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Archive for November 7th, 2014

A Lesson in Civility from a “Developing” Nation

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

A recent trip with a dozen friends to Malawi in southeastern Africa provided much food for thought about the meaning of the character of a nation.

We were a group of well meaning but amateur voluntourists from a nation many consider to be the most advanced civilization in the world and we were traveling to one of the world’s poorest countries. Our objective was to help a rural village build a school but, along the way, we brought home some perplexing thoughts about our two countries’ value systems.

By any conventional and objective measurement, Malawi is a desperately poor people who have little educational opportunity, are largely undernourished, live a short life expectancy, and have limited health and medical care. They live on about a dollar a day. In the rural areas where 85% of the population lives, few have electricity or ready access to clean, running water.

What kind of reception could we from the Land of Conspicuous Consumption expect in such a place? Particularly in a time when Americans seem to be increasingly vilified around the world.

“We love you, Muzungus,” (Bantu for people of European descent) came the joyous cries of children in village after village as we traveled along the rutted dirt road to our project. Nor was this friendly reception limited to children. Adults out gutting a goat or tending a garden would pause, smile and wave to these strangers who had nothing to offer but a return wave.

After 17 days of this, we could only conclude that people in Malawi are just plain nice. Nice to each other, and nice to visitors whether they bear gifts or not.

This experience was disconcerting for Americans who are becoming increasingly accustomed to the erosion of civility in our daily lives. Let’s face it, in all walks of life in America people are less and less civil to each other.

On line discussions and transmissions are commonly vile. Most of us have tuned out politicians who would rather demonize than compromise. Bullying is a rite of passage in school. Rage on our roads, throats cut in business, rude customers, stressed out elementary children, drugs for recreation and anaesthetisation.

One day while we were shopping for supplies in the market of Mangochi, a medium sized city, I got separated from the Muzungu Bus. As I was wandering around, a young guy realized my plight, helped me on the back of his bicycle, and we toured around until we sighted my colleagues. I tried to give him a few kwacha but he just smiled, patted me on the back and pedaled off. Each of us could tell a dozen such stories of kindness.

That’s why they call their country the “Warm Heart of Africa.” I guess.

There is considerable debate about the benefits of these kinds of projects in “developing” Third World nations. No doubt there is a serious negative potential from those which are poorly conceived and without local control and participation.

But consider the phenomenon from a different perspective.

Countries like America which seem to be “developing” in the wrong direction need all the help we can get from civilizations that have learned that, even in the most difficult life circumstances, people can be polite, generous, and civil to each other.

 

Parker: A Lesson in Civility from a “Developing” Nation

Ross Parker

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

A recent trip with a dozen friends to Malawi in southeastern Africa provided much food for thought about the meaning of the character of a nation.

We were a group of well meaning but amateur voluntourists from a nation many consider to be the most advanced civilization in the world and we were traveling to one of the world’s poorest countries. Our objective was to help a rural village build a school but, along the way, we brought home some perplexing thoughts about our two countries’ value systems.

By any conventional and objective measurement, Malawi is a desperately poor people who have little educational opportunity, are largely undernourished, live a short life expectancy, and have limited health and medical care. They live on about a dollar a day. In the rural areas where 85% of the population lives, few have electricity or ready access to clean, running water.

What kind of reception could we from the Land of Conspicuous Consumption expect in such a place? Particularly in a time when Americans seem to be increasingly vilified around the world.

“We love you, Muzungus,” (Bantu for people of European descent) came the joyous cries of children in village after village as we traveled along the rutted dirt road to our project. Nor was this friendly reception limited to children. Adults out gutting a goat or tending a garden would pause, smile and wave to these strangers who had nothing to offer but a return wave.

After 17 days of this, we could only conclude that people in Malawi are just plain nice. Nice to each other, and nice to visitors whether they bear gifts or not.

This experience was disconcerting for Americans who are becoming increasingly accustomed to the erosion of civility in our daily lives. Let’s face it, in all walks of life in America people are less and less civil to each other.

On line discussions and transmissions are commonly vile. Most of us have tuned out politicians who would rather demonize than compromise. Bullying is a rite of passage in school. Rage on our roads, throats cut in business, rude customers, stressed out elementary children, drugs for recreation and anaesthetisation.

One day while we were shopping for supplies in the market of Mangochi, a medium sized city, I got separated from the Muzungu Bus. As I was wandering around, a young guy realized my plight, helped me on the back of his bicycle, and we toured around until we sighted my colleagues. I tried to give him a few kwacha but he just smiled, patted me on the back and pedaled off. Each of us could tell a dozen such stories of kindness.

That’s why they call their country the “Warm Heart of Africa.” I guess.

There is considerable debate about the benefits of these kinds of projects in “developing” Third World nations. No doubt there is a serious negative potential from those which are poorly conceived and without local control and participation.

But consider the phenomenon from a different perspective.

Countries like America which seem to be “developing” in the wrong direction need all the help we can get from civilizations that have learned that, even in the most difficult life circumstances, people can be polite, generous, and civil to each other.

 

FBI Agent Accused of Using Heroin That Was Stored As Evidence for Trial

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com
 
Matthew Lowry, the FBI agent suspected of tampering with evidence in drug cases, is accused of using heroin that was earmarked as evidence for a trial, the Washington Post reports.

The accusations against Lowry are so serious that authorities are dismissing cases against convicted and accused drug dealers in Washington D.C.

Lowry’s attorney described the allegations as “grossly overblown” and said his client wants to cooperate and “help bring this matter to a fast conclusion.”

Officials said Lowry has discussed the allegations with investigators.

Silk Road, the Notorious Online Drug Bazaar, Busted for Second Time

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Silk Road, a notorious online drug supplier, has been busted again, The Verge reports.

The FBI, Homeland Security and European law enforcement seized the replacement site.

Authorities arrested suspected operator Blake Benthall, 26, in California on Wednesday.

It appears Benthall slipped up when he used his own email address for a Silk Road 2.0 server and didn’t anonymize the software.

He is expected to be charged with conspiring to commit narcotics trafficking, conspiring to commit computer hacking, conspiring to traffic in fraudulent identification documents and money laundering conspiracy.

Smugglers Dropped Large Amount of Marijuana from Ultralight Aircraft

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Drug smugglers have tried all kinds of clever – and not so clever – ways to get their products across the Mexican border and into the U.S.

On Tuesday morning, Border Patrol agents in the Tucson Sector seized nearly $100,000 worth of marijuana dropped from an ultralight aircraft Tuesday, AZ Family reports.

The ultralight was was spotted by CBP camera operators.

Agents found 10 bundles of marijuana wearing roughly 185 pounds.

Agents arrested two Mexican nationals.

Top Justice Department Officials Used Influence to Get Relatives Paid Internships

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Three top officials in the Justice Department played a role in getting their relatives paid paid internships, the New York Daily News reports.

Executive Office for Immigration Review Director Juan Osuna, Board of Immigration Appeals Chairman David Neal and Chief Immigration Judge Brian O’Leary each helped relatives get the jobs, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

The officials hold the top three positions at the Justice Department agency that oversees the federal immigration court system.

The investigation four that the relatives got the jobs in the agency’s student job program between 2007 and 2010.

It wasn’t just the top officials getting their relatives jobs. Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that about 16% of the 200 interns were relatives of employees between 2007 and 2010.

FBI Agent Impersonates Associated Press Reporter to Nab Teen in Bomb Threats

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI went further than creating a bogus news site to capture a 15-year-old suspect accused of making bomb threats at a high school near Olympia, Washington.

An FBI agent impersonated an Associated Press reporter in 2007 and asked the suspect to review a bogus AP article about threats directed at the school “to be sure that the anonymous suspect was portrayed fairly,” the AP reports.

The news came in a letter Thursday to the New York Times.

The bogus article helped the FBI because his cyber information became available when the suspect clicked on the link.

“That technique was proper and appropriate under Justice Department and FBI guidelines at the time. Today, the use of such an unusual technique would probably require higher-level approvals than in 2007, but it would still be lawful and, in a rare case, appropriate,” Comey wrote.

The AP responded that the fake news report erodes confidence in the media.

“This latest revelation of how the FBI misappropriated the trusted name of The Associated Press doubles our concern and outrage, expressed earlier to Attorney General Eric Holder, about how the agency’s unacceptable tactics undermine AP and the vital distinction between the government and the press,” Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP, said in a statement.