Intolerance, Self-taught
Expanded from the 6-18-2006 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Updated 6-25-2006

As I noted in Y2K, Oscar-winning actor Rod Steiger once wrote a short story about God's return to earth. One day, Steiger imagined, the moving letterboard above New York's Times Square miraculously began flashing a single message: God returns to earth at noon next Friday.

BARBWIRE: Laughing gods for Easter bunnies and black whales

BARBWIRE: Christmas 2000: a scientific snapshot of God

"By Friday, you couldn't get near the place," Steiger told an interviewer. Promptly at 12:00, a huge black whale appeared on the building atop the dancing letters.

"I am the Lord, your God. Bow down and worship me," boomed a majestic voice from the sky.

Stone silence from the multitude. Then a murmur. Soon, stones and pop bottles were hurled upward.

"I am the Lord, your God. Bow down and worship me."

The mob got ropes and tried to pull the whale down to street level. God finally got ticked off and nuked the place.

Moral: Man will accept no god not made unto man's image and likeness.

I look around at all the suffering and intolerance which we foist upon ourselves and both laugh and cry at the same time.

Here's the latest spiritual roller coaster: The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions by British ex-nun and self-described spiritual archaeologist Karen Armstrong.

Therein, the maverick theologian traces the roots of all major modern religions to the ninth century BCE and simply states the bottom line: all teach the golden rule, Christianity 900 years before Christ (verified by the Dead Sea Scrolls 100 years before Jesus walked the earth).

Our greed and fear still won't allow us to learn that simple lesson.

All we can do is keep producing neverending variations on that ancient and most-important theme and hope the species will somehow survive until it sinks in or we sink us.

Hope springs eternal for awhile longer.

The chickens may finally be coming home to roost — stay tuned

IRS checking compliance by tax-exempt hospitals
New York Times 6-19-2006
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CARSON-TAHOE TOLJASO! I warned 'em, didn't I warn 'em? Carson-Tahoe hospital is going down the tubes. As with Washoe Medical Center in 1985, a few skulduggerous profiteers convinced the local hicks to privatize a public hospital with disastrous results for patients. Carson-Tahoe underpaid its workers during construction, had a big grand opening for its new palace, then announced mass layoffs and program cuts within a few months.

One of their unstated problems: the voracious competition of Washoe Med. (Competition among hospitals does not drive costs down, it destroys service because health care centers have such huge fixed expenses in construction and equipment.)

I not only warned Carson City in the Tribune, but the Nevada Appeal picked up my story for all in the capital city to read. One dissident hospital trustee asked me for the Washoe County grand jury report on Washoe Med's turnover. I obliged, but she was outgunned.

Now, the hicks weep and reap the chaff because the wheat's been sold to the bankers.

Damn, our public officials are easy to seduce and abandon.

SPEAKING OF MEDICAL CARE. Don’t forget little William Albiniano, bravely fighting a terminal disease. Go the the web edition of this column at for updates on the eight year-old's condition and contribution locations in addition to Bank of America and Wells Fargo. His parents have fallen another month behind on their house payments, having just paid $1,500 for four weeks' worth of medication. Despite lots of retail locations, donations have been slow, only about $300 so far. Debra Reid's photos and Janine Kearney's heart-rending story may be accessed with this column online.

Dammit, is there any better argument for universal health care than the suffering of this little boy?

ON THE AIR AND ON THE GROUND. Join me, Sam Shad and some unusual suspects this Tuesday on Nevada Newsmakers. The pundit panel matches me with a familiar face, Washoe County Democratic Party Executive Director Pam duPre (Pam Drum when she was a reporter at KOLO TV-8), and an unfamiliar one – right-wing firebrand Chuck Muth. Mr. Muth has shuttled between Nevada and DC over the past several years, working for government- and union-bashing organizations. (As I've said so often, a democracy stands on a tripod delicately balanced between business, labor and government. We live in a time of corporate supremacy. How do you think we're doing as we approach Nirvana according to Muth and his buddy Grover Norquist?)

I took dark pleasure in skewering Mr. Muth a few years ago when he praised the efficiency, courtesy and low pricing of Southwest Airlines, a non-union company flourishing in the era of Reaganaut deregulation. The only problem: Southwest was and remains the most successful and most totally unionized airline in the United States. Oops.

On the other hand, as with my Tribune colleague in columny Ira Hansen, Mr. Muth and I do find agreement, especially in areas of civil liberties and corporate welfare. If Mr. Shad and co-host Paul Enos ask the right questions, get set for some hot TV.

Nevada Newsmakers premieres on KRNV TV-4 at 12:30 p.m. and repeats at 9:30 the same day for Washoe-Carson-Douglas viewers afflicted with Charter cable. The web edition of this column will have the full statewide web-radio-TV rerun schedule, as usual.

Déjà vu all over again

    On June 18, 1971, the Reno Police Department announced plans for a program to reduce racial tensions between the department and the community reflected by numerous complaints of police harassment of African Americans.

— From longtime Nevada reporter Dennis Myers' Poor Denny's Almanac, appearing daily at the Bull'board

BARBWIRE: Meeting unproductive
Sparks Tribune 6-25-2006
Reno City Manager in Denial
Reno Gazette-Journal 6-20-2006

On the civil liberties front, the ACLU will host a free public roundtable on police racial profiling Monday evening at 6:00 p.m. at the Northeast Community Center (the former YWCA), 1301 Valley Road in Reno.

Reno has always had problems with race-based police stops and a recent city-funded study indicates that the problem persists.

Sparks, Washoe County and other law enforcement agencies are not immune.

Public officials should attend, as should police representatives. They need to listen to how those they are sworn to protect and serve view their peace officers' job performance.

Sparks has perhaps the most to learn, as its police department has historically been woefully thin on minority representation.

Be there.

Be well. Raise hell.



Smoking Guns

BARBWIRE: Red, White and Screwed, Part I
Sparks Tribune 6-4-2006

BARBWIRE: Red, White and Screwed, Part Deux
Sparks Tribune 6-11-2006

Sparks Tribune 6-4-2006

APOLOGETICS: "Red, White and Screwed" is the title of a new HBO comedy special starring the irascible Daily Show commentator Lewis Black, whom Mr. Barbano hopes won't be too angry at this additional expropriation of his very appropriate title for life in the USA today.

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Copyright © 1982, 1984, 1996, 2004, 2005, 2006 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 37-year Nevadan, editor of and He is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and the Reno-Sparks NAACP. His comments are strictly his own, as always. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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