The deaths of some lab animals in a senior dissertation project, conducted in Scranton Pa. more than fifty years ago, would hardly seem to be a topic relevant to a political punditry column in 2015, but since it provides a marvelous example of how difficult it can be to ascertain exactly what happened we can start with that obscure and innocuous incident and escalate up to more serious and recent events quite rapidly.
Mary Kay H*****'s experiment subjects died under mysterious circumstances. Did her brother or some of his high school classmates substitute beer for water and cause the project to disintegrate before completion? Hearsay, conjecture, and allegations abound but hard evidence has vanished in the mists of history. One (conspiracy?) theory suggests that her father may have deemed it necessary to scuttle the project.
A call to the World's Laziest Journalist News Organization headquarters from Germany, on Sunday January 4, 2015, didn't help the investigation because, although we knew all of the personalities involved, we weren't there and couldn't add any facts to the inquest, which has been reopened a half century later.
If someone wasn't there when things happened, how can journalists write knowledgably about things they did not witness? It's difficult to peace things together from old memories and conjecture. Aye, lad, there's the rub!
Just minutes after the call from Germany, we walked into the latest political dispute occurring in Berkeley CA. We were told that the Papa John's franchise on Shattuck Ave. would not sell to homeless customers. Here we go again with hearsay, rumors, allegations and unverifiable "facts"!
At one point Sunday, we thought we saw a Berkeley Police officer give a slice of pizza to a young lady who couldn't buy it.
On Monday, January 5, 2015, this columnist went to investigate. When we entered the pizza parlor at approximately 1 p.m., we noted that the customer at the counter had long and shaggy hair, was barefooted and had a dog with him. Most food establishment can refuse to deal with barefooted customers and so the fellow was denied service.
Next up, the guy with the street name "Ninja Kitty," stepped
up to the counter and was informed that he couldn't buy a pizza. Note:
We know for sure that if served he could pay because he was carrying a
$20 bill. He left. This columnist was next and we ordered a
pizza, paid, and waited for it to be served.
We were unable to locate Ninja when we exited the store, so we went to where he and his posse congregate. We learned that Ninja was helping change a tire for a woman parked in front of the pizza parlor. We passed out slices to his buddies and held two for him to consume after doing his good deed. He gave one of those two to the barefooted fellow.
Since folks reading this column on the Internets don't want a long and involved think piece, it will suffice to say that this seemed to have the potential of becoming a viable news story and so we started picking up various and sundry related bits of information.
Mike Zint, a political activist and writer, informed us that he had learned the business was directed to not provide service to homeless people by the building's owner (or designated representative).
Is it an example of irony to note that this treatment of homeless is occurring in Berkeley, which has a reputation for being an ultra liberal city and is located in California's 13th Congressional District, which is one of the country's most liberal congressional districts?
We had learned late last year that the Hotel Shattuck building is going through the bureaucratic process necessary for it to be demolished and replaced by an 18 story high rise building.
Could it be, we wondered (speculation alert!), that someone was trying to disperse the groups of homeless people who ask for handouts in the downtown Berkeley business area, before the high-rise opens for business and caters to the swells? Could it be classified as economic cleansing?
As we recall the Santa Monica city attorney forced Domino Pizza to make deliveries to homeless people at a phone booth because it had been depicted in the movie (co-inky-dink alert!) "Ninja Turtles."
We were told on Elvis' birthday that the instructions to deny service to the homeless came from the Downtown Business Association. Who, we wondered, is running that particular franchise? We assume that the lawyers for Papa John's corporation (in Louisville) will know for sure who is running the show and calling the shots for their downtown Berkeley CA franchise.