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Here’s what the stricken cruise ship the Costa Concordia, looks like now from space. Could you imagine what it looked like to its stranded and panicked passengers from its wildly tilting decks the night it crashed earlier this year?

When the cruise ship, Costa Concordia, twice the size of the Titanic with 4200 innocent passengers aboard, hit the rocks off the coast of Italy earlier this year, the incompetence and cowardice of its captain and many of its crew became manifest, as 32 died and thousands suffered terror and injury in the early hours of what was supposed to be a luxurious cruise of a state-of-the-art ship.

Except — the captain was more interested in his girlfriend and in showing off, than is captaining his ship, and a cruise line that thought a casual dinner and a good night’s sleep would be more useful than a safety drill, or a well-crained and disciplined crew. This captain should get the electric chair and this cruise line, which clearly had lousy standards for training and safety and is seeking legal protection to limit its liability, should be put out of business and forgo its assets, at the very least.

The compelling, blow by blow story of the sinking of the Costa Concordia can be read in the May, 2012, edition of Vanity Fair magazine, “Another Night to Remember,” by Jonas Fredwall Karlsson.

People interested in cruising should demand to know the safety records of not only the cruise lines and ships they will sail upon but the experience and records of the senior crew of those ships. They should demand evidence of the safety training of the crews, from captain to steward, and they should demand thorough safety drills as they leave port, not hours or a day later.

And citizens should demand of their legislators better laws of the sea regarding passenger ship safety, and also better liability protection in event of problems at sea, ranging from sexual predation to disasters of every kind. As Presidential candidates and Senators and Congressmen to take positions and seek action on behalf of the cruising public, who already pay a lot to set to sea, but shouldn’t have to pay with their physical and economic safety at risk

With CNN reporting that President Obama has secretly arrived in Afghanistan to sign an agreement for some kind of continuation of forces beyond 2014, one can honestly question whether this generation will ever see an end to U.S. involvement in the conflict there.

The only acceptable “excuse” for America‘s continued presence might be as some sort of insurance policy to keep nuclear, radical Pakistan at bay, although why that can’t be accomplished without ground forces is a mystery to me.

My concern is not just about the continued exposure of U.S. troops to what amounts to civil war, in which the U.S. serves as a political mercenary force. My concern is that the massive economic cost of our continued presence will be even more destabilizing here at home than would our total departure from Afghanistan.

Our continued presence in Afghanistan is one more reason why the next generation of Americans will not get enough education or job opportunities, that is, unless they volunteer for military service or contract service to the military. Another generation will loyally go to war, while leaders will write books about their difficult choices, and the populace will wither because of the unfortunate choices those short-sighted, narrow-minded “leaders” have made on our behalf.

As I was listening to CNN on the car radio yesterday, 2 guest commentators began to talk over and cut each other off as they ranted on some controversial topic. I love a good argument, but when people do that, as CNN and other talk shows seem to increasingly encourage, I just change the channel.

When you can no longer follow or understand the exchange, and the guests descend into fury, feigned or real, I have no time for it. Spirited debate is fine, but such brawls are perhaps best left to the reality shows, those Roman Colosseums of disgusting combat of our day.

If CNN and the rest don’t get the hint to bring back some civility, they won’t get my attention at all anymore.

May 2022
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