2006-01-06 / Community

Beachcomber

The accident that occurred on Cronston Avenue and Beach 130 Street in the middle of December injured a young girl but could have been much worse. In that accident, ex-judge Edward Re passed a school bus that clearly had its flashing lights on and struck the young girl, who was in a group of six youngsters crossing the street in front of the bus. The accident is a reminder that motorists must be very careful when they see school buses stopped, even if they don’t see the flashing lights and stop sign. Re said that the glare of the sun kept him from seeing the lights, but motorists in that case should proceed with caution. It could easily have been six killed or injured. It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus.

The sale of new homes nationally fell by 11.3 percent last month, the largest drop in nearly a dozen years, according to a recent report by the Commerce Department. In addition, the median new-home price fell for the third straight month to $225,200. Obviously, the Commerce Department didn’t look at home prices in Rockaway, where the average is obviously much higher. Experts are not talking, but this may signal the beginning of the “bubble” that everybody had been talking about for a few years. That bubble is the continued growth of home prices, both new and used. The argument is that there has to come a point when houses are out of the reach of just about everybody who wants to buy a home. At that point, prices should begin to fall and that housing bubble should burst, bringing on a rapid drop in what people will have to pay to buy a home. That’s good for homebuyers but not so good for those who bought just before the bubble burst.

There is one word that you really can’t misspell because it is a transliteration from a five-letter Hebrew word meaning “consecration.” We address that this time of the year because the word is Chanukah. Or, Hannukah. Or, Hanukkah. You get the point. No matter how we spell it, we usually get calls telling us that we spelled it incorrectly. One expert says that the Chanukah spelling is best because it is the one used most often. In any case, next December, you can pretty much spell it any way you want.

We all know about the notables who died in 2005, but there were also some not-so-notables who made an impact on their nation and on our culture who died as well. For example, there’s Navy Commander James Stockdale, who became something of a national laughingstock as the running mate for Ross Perot in his abortive presidential run. Long before that, Stockdale was shot down over Vietnam in his A-4 Skyhawk to become one of the first prisoners of war and the first occupant of the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison. He quickly took command of the growing group of pilots who were brought to the prison, developing a tap code that allowed them to “talk” to each other. He helped to keep many of them alive. He spent 2,714 days in captivity. Then, there is Fred Kormatsu, a name known only to Constitutional scholars. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the internment of all Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, Kormatsu refused to go and he became a test case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. While the court ruled that the government had a right under national security to intern the American citizens, the case was reopened in 1981. This time, the case was thrown out and Kirmatsu was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It seems that Muslim leaders are lining up to deny that the Holocaust ever happened. First, there was the new President of Iran who posited the Holocaust was a Zionist ploy to get some free property and then that, even if it were true, asked why Palestinians should suffer if some Jews were killed? Then, the leader of Egypt’s main Islamic opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, said that the Holocaust is a “myth.” He also knocked western democracies for arguing that it really happened. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new Iranian president, a man who was photographed earlier in his life escorting the American prisoners being held hostage in that nation, added, “Israel should be wiped off the map.” Very few Arab governments or organizations condemned the remarks.

Congressman Anthony Weiner, who probably will run for Mayor once again when Michael Bloomberg becomes term-limited in four years, has a complaint against banks. He says that since the year 2000 there has been an increase in New York City bank branches of 212, but that only three of those branches went into the poorest neighborhoods in the city. The others, he says, went into the 20 richest neighborhoods in the city. Reminds us of the old Willie Sutton statement. When asked why he robbed banks, Sutton reportedly said, “Because that’s where the money is.” Makes sense to us.

The announcement that the water pollution treatment plant located on Beach Channel Drive will be overhauled this year is good news to anybody who drives in the area of Beach 108 Street. The city has promised that the modernization plan will eventually address the odor control problem that has plagued the area for years. While the planning phase will begin this year, it is not clear just when they will take care of the odorous smell that offends those who pass by.

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