Monday, April 30, 2007

Some foolishness to see April on its way

This is the last day of April, at least for 2007. May Day is tomorrow -- time to find a Workmen's Circle chapter and sing The Internationale, the theme song of socialists and progressives back in the day. for an English version.
You may remember it from the soundtrack of the long-but-wonderful movie "Reds." Never seen the film? Make time -- it's worth it.

April comes in with April Fools' Day. I like the Chinese tradition of celebrating an event after it happens, so let's celebrate some silly things that have come our way in April.

For example, some mental-health advocates feel that their clients' privacy is the prime concern, above all other concerns, including public safety.

Therefore, the names of those who have been diagnosed with mental problems, even if those problems are severe enough to warrant involuntary commitment to a mental-health facility, should never be made known to the police, even to be put into a database used by the gun-shop owners to run the instant background check mandated by the federal Brady Bill.

It's true, even after the massacre at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, according to a "60 Minutes" piece presented by Steve Kroft last night.

Spokesmen for the National Mental Health Association, as well as the Gun Owners of America, say someone who suffers from delusions, has been adjudged a threat to his or her own safety and the safety of others, and has been committed to a mental-health locked ward and then released should be able to buy a gun with no impediments.

The folks at the National Rifle Association think this is wrong, according to its executive director, Wayne LaPierre, in the Kroft piece.

If you only think this applies to states such as Texas, think again. The story started out in Massachusetts. Close enough for you?

The following comes from an Associated Press story.

"In creating the background check system, Congress passed a law in 1993 that said states must supply mental health records on people who have been declared mentally defective or have been involuntarily committed. But in 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that requirement, saying states cannot be forced to take part in a federal program of this sort.

"'It's a voluntary process," said Jerome Pender, deputy assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which includes the database. "There's no requirement."

"The states that report at least some mental health records to the FBI are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming, according to the FBI.

Oh, you didn't see your state's name there? Neither did I.

Second on the silly list is the report that New York City subway hero Wesley Autrey was being sued by his lawyer, Diane L. Kleiman.

It seems Autrey hired Kleiman to handle publicity and other things after he saved a 19-year-old man who had suffered a seizure in January and fell onto subway tracks. Autrey, 50, jumped onto the tracks and saved the younger man by lying on top of him and preventing him from moving as the train roared overhead.

Autrey had said Kleiman had manipulated him into signing a one-sided agreement and sued her to get out of their contract.

Kleiman is seeking money for breach of contract and damage to her reputation.

"They're making me look like a shyster. I'm not a shyster," Kleiman told the New York Post. "I'm not money hungry."

Oh, yes....she's also seeking legal fees.

Third is all the yak about the New York Yankees being in big trouble, along with their manager, for losing all these games in April.

Look, I'm just as happy as anyone about the Yankees losing games, especially five of six to the Boston Red Sox. I love the fact that Julian Tavarez beat the Yankees' top pitcher and that both Big Popi and little Alex Cora hit balls out of Yankee Stadium.

But, to those who say it's only April and things can change, I say the following: You Are Right. It's early. It's months even until All-Star Break.

But we can still enjoy it.

And two of my grandchildren were born in April, Naomi, who just turned 3 and the one who will be named tomorrow, when he will be 8 days old.

That makes up for everything.

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