Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Olympic Torch Protests

Both London's and Paris' Olympic torch relay routes were marred by protesters who almost got a grip of the torch. In France, the torch had to be extinguished a few times to prevent injury. In San Francisco, however, there were barricades, and police motorcycles on both sides of the torchbearer, dozens of uniformed officers walking along parallel, facing the left and right sides of the route, and unmarked sedans leading and following the procession. Why did London' and Paris' relays seem more violent? Because the government did not order such an intense police presence. They wanted their people to show their disgust of China, and show it to the rest of the world that the government dislikes her too. The US, on the other hand, cannot risk something like that. The US wants to have a friendly relationship with China. There is, of course, another reason why the relay in San Francisco, the only stop in North America, was so peaceful. Residents are just not as active in world politics and current issues as their counterparts in the UK and France. Remember a few protests in France a few years ago against the Iraq war, or any protest in France? They care about their role in the world. We should (have) too.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Reform (or get rid of) HMOs Now!

Apparently, the new health insurance plan I am now covered under only allocates one checkup for every two years. The recommended interval and the ones other major HMOs use is once every year. What happened?!?! Since a single checkup is expensive if someone does not have insurance or uses up more than the alloted amount, this creates a dilemma. Decreased checkups = less diagnoses of diseases, illnesses, or other ailments = a more sickly person = decreased productivity = decreased revenues for the business they are employed in = increased costs in paying for that worker's worsened health problems or hiring more workers to make up for the lost productivity! Abolish (or at least reform) HMOs now! It works in Canada, the UK, France, and Cuba, so why not the U.S.?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Car #1224

"This is a Domestic Violence-bound 4 Express train. The next stop is, Possible Drug Use. Stand clear of the odd 'couple' please." That was what I was hearing instead of the normal automated announcements made when I was leaving the 4 train at 59th St. during my trip home. I had just witnessed a somewhat distressed, aged woman and a scarred man who sat across from me argue and frighten the rest of the passengers on the Brooklyn-bound R160 car #1224.

At first glance, the woman's physical appearance showed her looking tired, fatigued, and even a bit suspicious. Why? Well for starters, she had what looked like a faded bruise on her left cheek. Followed by a skin condition that seemed to suggest drug use, as judged from knowledge from Health class. Most of her teeth was missing, and the ones that remained were angled. Moving down, her neck had a wide scar from what appeared to be a scratch. Her fingernails, crusted blood on the tips and sides. Her male envoy also seemed like a drug addict, with what appeared to be a burn scar on his face as well. Her hair was also tied into a ponytail, but on the top of her head. He had a backpack (the ones with strings that, when pulled, easily close the bag's mouth), a new cigarette tucked above his right ear, and a hooded sweatshirt with a pocket in front.

After they both sat down, the woman began attempting to take a nap. She placed her hands on the pole attached to the curved bucket seat and rested her head against her outstretched arms. When this proved difficult to keep in position, she did what any subway passenger would do, sit upright. However, her head began to sway to one side, jerk back up, and then sway to the other, etc. Suddenly, her head fell on an Indian female sitting to her right. Disgusted, she said, "Excuse me" to the woman. The woman woke up, stared at her, and retorted, "What?!, I can't sleep on no f**king train?!" Her friend instantly reacted by attempting to calm her down with what sounded like slurred Spanish. However, the woman continued to shout, "YOU WANT ME TO SLAP YOU? I CAN SLAP YOU AND ...." (the rest was indecipherable). Both women stared at each other for about 10 seconds, until her husband started negotiating with her again.

By this point, most of the passengers at the North end of the car (again, I sat directly opposite from this, next to the Northeast door) were looking. Every now and then, the woman would say out loud, "She'll get over it" in English, followed by some more Spanish from the man. A few more lines later, I heard him say Spanish for "ugly" (feo). A few more, she yelled to him, "YOU HIT WOMEN." He smiled. Shortly after, the man reached into his front shirt pocket and took out a bottle of whiskey/liquor. I stared at the audacity he had, but decided not to confront him, and neither did a young adult who appeared to be babysitting a 7 year old sitting next to him, or my fellow passengers.

"This is, 59th St.. Transfer is available to the 6, N, R, and W trains." My stop. I got up and told myself that I would tell a cop on the platform on the train's conductor. The doors opened and I stepped off, with a few other people from my end of the train. I walked nervously towards the opposite end of the platform. I passed by the conductor, two cars away.

I am not sure what made me not volunteer my information. My good conscience almost always trumps over my guiltiness ("tattle-taleness"). I could have simply said, "I think some drug (inferred)/alcohol (illegal)/domestic violence (inferred, but verbal and visual evidence). I could have saved someone's life, and potentially others'. I could have attempted to prevent the man from possible harming another person. I could have...but I didn't, and now I am a hypocrite and part of another statistic of people that see something, should report it, but don't say anything. Just a minor disturbance on Car #1224.

This did happen in real life, at approximately 4:50-5:10 P.M. on a Brooklyn-bound 4 train, somewhere in between 149th-Grand Concourse and 59th St. on April 1st, 2008. What happened after is up to anyone's guess. This is not an April Fool's Joke.