Blue knights or badge-heavy?


Hi again, from the Bastion on the Puget Sound.  Monday, the US Justice Department, in response to a request by the Office of the Mayor, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU) and 34 other community groups launched an investigation of the Seattle Police Department for abuses ranging from the slapping of a black teenaged girl arrested for jaywalking to the kicking, beating and use of racial epithets on a down and cuffed suspect to the fatal shooting of a Native American woodcarver.

 I have wanted to report to you on these incidents when they occurred but it has been difficult because I respect an otherwise honorable profession followed by my adopted father and grandfather.  I also do not like casting my community in such a light nor am I particularly enthusiastic about exposing my family to the risk of reprisal by a rough element within the Department.  I also understand, as well as any “civilian” can, what these Blue Knights go through day after day, week after week, month after month. 

 I know the anxiety it can cause husbands and wives of these New Centurions.  I know how the unremitting fear of loss can tear families apart.  I know how it can drive a sober cop to the bottle and a gentle man to physically and verbally abuse his family.  I know how all of it can drive a cop to take the law into his own hands to subvert a justice system he or she believes is pandering to a justice system which seems to care more about the rights of the accused than it does the welfare of those it is paid and dedicated to serve.

 But I also know what abuse of authority can do to a community and particularly to its racial minorities.  I marched in the streets of this community along with thousands of others of my fellow citizens to protest the treatment of Rodney King.  I saw and heard and felt the fear and anguish of those gathered in black churches, remembering the streets of Selma, Mississippi and Montgomery, Alabama when a black woman could be raped or a black man hung simply for being on a dark and lonely road after dark.  I remember the clubs and dogs local police not only in the South but in a score of American cities used when “Negroes,” as they were called then, stood up and demanded the rights for which so many white Americans died during the bloodiest war in America’s history.  Racism in its most benign form is a disgrace and a travesty.  When it becomes an unofficial policy of those charged with protecting every man, woman and child in a community regardless of race, religion, gender and gender preference, it mocks the very principles of freedom and sends us into a dark age the likes of which have not been seen since a mad paper hanger set into motion the systematic extermination of six million Jews during the Holocaust.

 I have this sinking feeling that what a fair, impartial and in-depth investigation of the Seattle Police Department will reveal and it sickens and disgusts me as nothing else in my life has.  I am glad California Highway Patrol Sergeant Merritt Vaughn Miller is not alive to witness this.  But if he were, he would join me, his son, in demanding that a Department in disgrace not rest until it redeemed itself and became again worthy of bearing the shield and the responsibility for which so many good cops have given their lives and continue to give their lives so that all of us from Bangor, Washington to Bangor Maine and even unto Biloxi, Mississippi can again walk our streets free and unafraid.

See also:

Police withheld correspondence in shooting of woodcarver


In order to make this a healthier world for children, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that $100-million will be dedicated to the eradication of polio throughout the world ,in partnership with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who agreed to double Britain’s commitment this year to about $62 million.  To us, because polio claims the lives of so many young people, this is philanthropy at its best and living proof that wealth and compassion and a conscience are not mutually exclusive.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of a local correctional officer who was killed by an inmate of the facility at which she worked because, apparently, she tried, in vain, to warn her superiors of a blind spot in the jail’s internal surveillance system well known to the incarcerated killer and certainly exploited with fatal results.  Sometimes I am really reminded of why the Good Lord gave us one mouth and TWO ears.

Well, apparently there is one shaken up Canadian in Gatineau, Quebec who is more than a little browned off that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police could not tell the difference between the aroma of marijuana and the fragrance of a skunk.  Ten of Canada’s Finest broke into his home at gunpoint and searched the place, only to find it drug-free.  During the search, they did, however, find a skunk living under the citizen’s house.  Authorities apologized but the Quebecker is still concerned that when he tries to cross into the United States, this will somehow prevent him from doing so.  We thought this was a Keystone Cops incident, even though our respect for the RCMP is high (pun intended) until we did some checking ~ both scientific and anecdotal ~ and learned that there is a strain of marijuana which does, in fact, smell like a striped woods kitty.  One question, however, remains on my mind.  How in the world could this citizen live with that creature’s stench 24/7?

Washington State introduced legislation January 18 proposing the creation of a Washington Investment Trust (WIT) to “promote agriculture, education, community development, economic development, housing, and industry” by using “the resources of the people of Washington State within the state.  Currently, the state’s funds are deposited in the Bank of America, which determines how they are invested.  At present, only North Dakota has such a system but has for nearly a century.  Several other states, including Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, and Virginia have similar legislation pending.

It may be the longest swim ever by a furry mammal.  A hungry female polar bear that researchers fitted with a GPS collar swam 420 miles through open water in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska in search of drift ice hunting grounds.  It took her almost ten days, during which she swam continuously and lost one-fifth of her body fat.  Wildlife experts are in awe and quite frankly, so are we.

In the very near future, plants could be joining the war on terrorism. Botanical geneticists at Colorado State University have altered certain plants so that their leaves will change color in the presence of TNT and the technology is expected to be applied to other kinds of explosives.  Plants are apparently even more effective than bomb-sniffing dogs and other animals because of their ultra sensitivity to chemical changes in the air.

Felina: I am reading about this large place on the shores of the Salish Sea between these two great mountain ranges, which has this tall symbol of human male manhood and which needed to be rebuilt because when it was first constructed, it was during years of low tide and then their toilets started backing up.

Sam:    I’m going to take a shot at this and say we’re not talking about their imaginary city of Oz.

Felina: Quite so.  It is named after one of the leaders of the original humans who lived there and whose name they revere even after the newcomers replaced the First Nation there.

Sam:    Ah, Seattle, Washington, Felina.  The Space Needle, Denny Regrade and Chief Seattle of the Suqamish Nation. 

Felina: Yes, Samuel.  That Seattle, Washington.  It appears that those humans who are charged with protecting them are now being investigated by an agency charged with protecting the protected from the protectors.  This is a bit confusing to me.  It would appear these shepherds protect some of the flock but actually hurt some others. 

Sam:    The white sheep and the sheep of other colors, Felina.

Felina:  Despite the fact that the Creator made all sheep equal?

Sam:    Sadly, love of my life.

Felina:  And their own Constitution and the City Charter which requires them to administer equal enforcement to all, apparently.

Sam:    That’s pretty much what they’re being investigated for, Lass, yep.

Felina:  I notice that they do not seem to keep a police chief for very long.  They either seem to go to other less troubled communities or they serve in a more responsible capacity.  There is one whose name would twist the tongue of a humming bird who is now working in America’s capital.

Sam:    Yep, Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Felina:  Is this responsible then for why they are under investigation?

Sam:    Nope, but it might contribute to it.  Look at it like this, Felina.  Bees and ants work well together because there is a top insect who remains in charge from birth until death.  They direct ~ through other management ants and bees ~ what the hive and hill will do.  They make sure all the tasks are done correctly and replace workers who cannot perform these duties.

Felina:  But when a Queen is hurt or killed, the hive or the hill is very disorganized until a new leader is chosen.  And each leader imprints their own way of doing things upon the rules of how things are done.  So it would follow that it would be very confusing if the leaders come and go often.

Sam:    Yep, sun, moon and stars of my life.  That certainly might be one way of explaining it.

Felina:  It still troubles me that they should need Queens and lesser leaders to insure the fair treatment of those they are pledged to serve.

Sam:    It does me as well, Felina.  But it does happen and the Seattle Police Department is hardly alone.  Other cities have had similar problems and it seems to happen when a few of what humans refer to as either racists or bigots break the rules and are not punished.  This encourages others who might be tempted to do so as well.  If it goes unchecked, it can impact even those of dedication, honesty and integrity.

Felina:  It has always baffled me, Samuel, that evil seems to spread so much more easily than the good human beings do.

Sam:    Sometimes, my love, morality is a matter of evolution.  And we are not talking about a species which has been around as long as other life on this planet.

Felina:  I sometimes wonder if they will survive to embrace the life-enhancing as a species-wide behaviour.

Sam:    You’ve got a lot of company in that regard, Felina, including other humans.

Felina:  It would be sad if they went the way of the dinosaur.

Sam:    Oh, I don’t know, Lass.  Coal and diamonds have their place as well.

Felina:  As epitaphs of a failed organism, I quite agree, Samuel.

Sam:    And on that note, Lass?

Felina:  And on that note, gentle readers, until next time, may the Creator bless and keep you.


Sometimes there is survival wisdom in age and this is particularly true in a blog we found by, of all people, American actor and martial arts expert Chuck Norris.  It’s entitled “An 87-Year-Old’s Economic Survival Guide.”


 In our ongoing campaign to either help you get healthy or stay that way, here’s another of those “there’s no excuse not to do this” items we publish with irritating consistency.  Hint:  It’s good for your blood pressure and it’s one you can do WITHOUT uprooting your butt from your chair or the couch.  Yuppers, go here.

We happen to catch our favorite First Lady on the American television show Good Morning America recently, promoting her national “Let’s Move” physical fitness campaign and bringing it now to military bases where, it seems, too many service men and women are unable to train because of problems with weight, fitness and nutrition.  Way to go, Michelle.


If anyone has any doubts at all that more needs to be done to find a cure for cancer, check out this heartbreaking story of a father who passed the gene responsible for it down to one of his daughters.  Our thanks to Bert and Remi in Oxfordshire, England for turning us on to this one.

Here’s a possible heads up regarding the link between breast implants and a very rare form of breast cancer which has been found in the scar tissue around those implants.  For more on this one, please go here.



 Once upon a time, in Regina, Saskatchewan, someone built a home so efficient it could be heated with a hair dryer.  And then forgot about it and built no more of them.  Then a German physicist somehow found out about it, studied it, published a paper on it and now there are an estimated 25,000 of them throughout Europe and elsewhere.  However, there’s still only one in Canada.  This one reads like popular mechanics ala Ray Bradbury and yep, for more, go here.

 I so love it when people you wouldn’t think could make a difference in this world turn out to be doing exactly that and I’ve learned never to underestimate children in that regard.  This is one more story of why I feel that way.

Advocates for ending homelessness in Vancouver, British Columbia range from local elected officials to designers and builders and many agree that modular homes are proving, increasingly, the way to go.  The idea is that the working poor, who often live in single rooms in hotels, can move into these small units that can be built on roof tops, odd patches of property and even floated and then the homeless can move into the single room hotels.  This sure looks like it would work south and east of Canada as well so for more, please go here.


Finding Rootedness is perhaps the most empowering blog we have yet come across for those of us who value positive and empowering alternatives.  This one is for the window pushers among us.  It offers not only solid alternatives to the chaos but news of where these options are being successfully implemented.

Irish Newsletter is an outstanding pocket source of Irish life, politics and times.  Particularly well written are their news snaps (shorts) which ~ according to friends of mine in Erin ~ literally tell it like it is.  While the Republic of Ireland’s population is only about 4.5-million, there are an estimated 80 million people of Irish descent worldwide and email version of this reached 50,000 of them.

 Rusty Miller – Writer/Editor For Hire is my professional home page.  Contracts I receive through this site help finance The Northstar Journal.

Sightline Daily is the best Pacific Northwest source of environmentally friendly news we’ve encountered yet.  They draw from newspapers and National Public Radio sources in Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington State.

The Northstar Gallery features photography of Seattle available as postcards, computer wallpaper and workspace art.

Words Matter: How Media Can Build Civility or Destroy It is a “Should Read” for any of us involved in the communication of the written word.

Wrath of the Testament, an exciting seagoing saga of war and rebellion, is now available for $3.99 at

Yes magazine is the online Life and Look of the Internet combined and their present series “What Happy Families Know is both insightful and inspirational.


Seattle's University District

Photo by Merritt Scott (Rusty) Miller

What’s Going On Here?

 Whether you live here or plan to visit ~ and whatever it is you enjoy doing at home or as a tourist ~ you’ll find it listed here at




 Experts in Arkansas have determined what killed some 5,000 redwing blackbirds who fell from the sky on New Year’s Eve over the small town of Bebe.  The injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma.  Fireworks disturbed the birds, who normally fly during daylight and the pyrotechnics disoriented them.  So apprently they banged into trees, buildings and other objects.  All five thousand of them.  Yep, that works.

 We didn’t know that January is National Bald Eagle Watch Month but this list of great places to watch these magnificent birds stands for all seasons in the continental US.  It also includes “eagle etiquette” and other useful and critter-enlightening information.

 Recommended Related Links:


Those of you inclined to bestow extreme affection on your pets ~ and I don’t know of an animal lover who isn’t inclined that way ~ might want to consider drawing the line at kissing them or even sleeping with them.  Recent research has identified a variety of diseases known as “zoonoses” which range from the relatively benign to the potentially fatal.  Yep, for more on this one, definitely please go here.

Well, that’s it for this week.  If you enjoyed this edition and would like to contribute to the next,

And if you’re in a shopping mood and into some interesting choices?  We have a “reader stocked” General Store that you might want to check out.  We’ve stocked a bit of everything from camping gear and cookware, specialty food items, books, music, films and fun/interesting/weird things that just somehow found their way onto the shelves at night when we were asleep.

Welcome to The Northstar General Store

If you would like to sell something with us or know someone who does, email us at and we’ll see what we can do.  See you next time.  Be well.


About minstrel312

MERRITT SCOTT MILLER Bio Wrath of the Testament Author and Northstar Journal editor Merritt Scott (Rusty) Miller is a former newspaper reporter who has published extensively in the Pacific Northwest and several times nationally. A U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, he began his career in the alternative media of the mid-Seventies. His own Sacramento-based monthly ~ Rapline ~ drew praise from Sacramento BEE metro columnist Herb Michelson in a column published that that newspaper; and from Berkeley Film Quarterly editor and author of the bestsellers Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging, Ernest Callenbach. A Northern California native with roots in British Columbia, Mr. Miller has written for several Northwest community newspapers, United Press International, the daily Portland Oregonian and for such Seattle publications as the Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Press and the University Herald. As an investigative reporter for the McMinnville, Oregon News-Register ~ and in conjunction with CBS News in New York, Washington, DC and Flagstaff, Arizona ~ Mr. Miller localized a story of alleged Contra gun-running by an international air freight company headquartered in that Willamette Valley community. During the 1987 Angel Complex Fire in southern Oregon, Mr. Miller worked as the lead dispatcher for the U.S. Forest Service and covered the disaster for National Public Radio and as a special writer for the Portland, Oregonian. His 1988 series on child abuse for a rural weekly earned him praise from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. In his career as a journalist, Mr. Miller has interviewed a Nobel peace laureate; an internationally renowned abstract artist; a popular folksinger and various Pacific Northwest elected officials, include a state treasurer and governor. An accomplished travel book writer, Mr. Miller has penned demographic and feature copy for the “Best Choices” series on Eastern Washington, British Columbia, Virginia, South Carolina and Atlanta. As either a contract or staff publicist, he has served a host of clients including the Olympia Music Festival, Umpqua Valley Community Hospital, the City of Canyonville, the Tiller Ranger District, The English School, the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners, Yamhill County Assessor Kim Worrell and Workers of Oregon Development. His freelance publications include: United Press International, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Portland Oregonian, Forest World, American Trucking, Trucks, Oregon Adventures, Oregon Education, Old Oregon, The Entertainer, the Seattle Press, the San Juan Island Sounder, Northwest Passage, Northwest Connection, Seattle Source, Seattle Forum, the University of Colorado’s Writers Forum, Clouds, The long Beach Literary Journal and the Pacific Media Group. He has worked since the age of 13 and has been a hop harvester, professional musician, civil servant, forester, convenience market clerk, lumber mill worker, temporary word processor, technical writer and editor. He has also led a social services research and development team and has six years of radio and telephone communications experience. His interests include astronomy, aviation, camping, Canada, communications, conversation, cooking, dancing, economic development, education, environmentalism, exploration, film/DVDs, fine dining, government, green technology, health. History, human rights, International community, Internet media, law, literature, marine engineering & design, medicine, music, nature, networking, outdoors, pets, photography, romance, science, sexuality, technology, travel, water, wildlife His honors and awards include: Letter of Appreciation - Amnesty International; US Senator Patti Murray Letter of Appreciation for The Northstar Journal Blog; Editors Choice, International Library of Poetry; Congressman Edward Murray Letter of Appreciation; Congressman Frank Chopp Letter of Appreciation; Hersch Best Read on the Net Award for The Northstar Journal; President Bill Clinton Letter of Appreciation; Workers Of Oregon Development Certificate of Appreciation; City of Canyonville Police Department Certificate of Appreciation; City of Canyonville Mayor’s Office Certificate of Appreciation; California Supreme Court Justice Rose Bird Letter of Appreciation; Northwest Magazine Editorial Board Letter of Appreciation for Rain; Editorial Award, Society of Professional Journalists; Sacramento Bee Metro Column; Honor Roll: California State University Long Beach; Deans List: Long Beach City; Mr. Miller currently resides in Seattle, Washington, where he continues to edit and publish The Northstar Journal. He is working on two novels concurrently and a sequel to Wrath of the Testament.
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