Monthly Archives: October 2014

Ratings-Crushed CNN Removed From DISH Subscribers

As if CNN didn’t already have enough problems with very low ratings among cable news channels, the plug was pulled on their programming from nearly 14 million subscribers of satellite TV provider, Dish Network. While Turner, a division of Time Warner, points the finger at Dish as being at fault for a programming fee deal falling through, the picture became clear that it was Turner who wanted a substantial increase in fees – likely due to it’s failing ratings on multiple channels, including CNN, Cartoon Network, CNN en Espanol, Boomerang and truTV. This also affected their revenue in advertising, a stark reality when low ratings come in to play. In other words, Turner is attempting to raise prices as a result, and Dish feels that their customers should not have to finance Turner’s failures on those channels.

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Two other channels, TBS and TNT, both of which have different bargaining talks that were separated several years ago, remain. Turner uses the fact that TNT and TBS‘s sports programming and sports rights garners much more bargaining power. While the debate for a fair programming distribution fee comes to the bargaining table, CNN has been replaced by Comcast-owned MSNBC on CNN‘s former channel. Why viewership continues to spiral downward is a matter of debate, but many viewers who have opted for other cable news channels say the network wasn’t properly or accurately reporting the news, losing credibility with viewers. But not so, according to a press release by Turner. “Dish is once again operating in a disruptive manner that takes away networks and programming from their customers,” the company said.

Without elaborating on what “disruptive behavior” is and by pointing the finger at Dish to customers, it’s widely known that Turner made Wall Street promises that CNN would improve in its ratings, thus strengthening its investor stock. It is speculated that CNN was beginning to turn viewership around with a 2% increase of the market share recently, but this backwards move at the negotiations table may actually negate those numbers. Turner cutting jobs for additional revenue hasn’t helped their reputation, either. According to the Dish Network website, the channels were not pulled by them, but instead by Turner. Many media sources are reporting the opposite, and the Turner “spin” on news is once again revealed.

“Our contract with Turner has expired and they have removed CNN, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, CNN en Español, Headline News, truTV, and Turner Classic Movies from DISH’s channel lineup. Currently, Turner is making unreasonable financial demands, and they have refused to extend the overall agreement. We continue to work with Turner to reach a fair and reasonable agreement with Turner,” Dish said on its site.

Texas Execution Set For Tuesday In Triple Killing Case

Miguel Angel Paredes Admits His Guilt, Sends Message To Kids And Gang Members


As Texas readies for it’s 517th execution on Tuesday since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, there comes an inmate who not only admits his crime, but also has a bit of advice for those who glorify the gang and criminal lifestyle. Miguel Angel Paredes was convicted in the triple homicide of Texas Mexican Mafia gang member Adrian Torres, 27, Torres’ girlfriend Nelly Bravo, 23 and Shawn Cain, 32, in September of 2000 in San Antonio. Why Paredes killed the three may never be known, but according to police (and prosecutors at the subsequent trial), Paredes ambushed them in premeditated fashion. As Paredes held a gun to Nelly Bravo’s head, she begged for her life.

Paredes shot her in the head despite her pleas.

Paredes admitted his role in the killings to police, implying that he was there to meet with Torres to talk about threats being made, despite prosecutors alleging that it was likely to settle a drug debt. “When I went to the house, I went to it to die, basically. Anybody that has common sense is going to know that if you threaten the leader of another gang he’s not going to be alone, and you’re going to have to go there willing to kill them,” Paredes told the San Antonio-Express News.

Paredes had co-defendants, then-21 year old John Anthony “Chino” Saenz and Greg Alvarado in the slayings. The trio killed their victims, loaded them in to a car, then took them to a remote area wrapped in carpet, where they attempted to burn their bodies.

Miguel Angel Paredes

Miguel Angel Paredes

Both Saenz and Alvarado received a life sentence in prison. So it remains unclear why Paredes was singled out for the death penalty. Many residents believe that the punishment should be the same for all, and point to an unfair ruling. “They should have all gotten the death penalty or they should have all received life in prison,” an onlooker of the trial said.

According to what was reported in San Antonio-Express News, Paredes had a message to the family of the victims and young adults who believe the gang life is where their calling lies as he awaits his fate.

“For me, I thought that if it’s between criminals, we knew what we get into,” he explained. “But when I started seeing my son was suffering because I was in here, that my mom was suffering because I was in here, it did not stop at me being able to handle the consequences.

“And I also saw that my victims, regardless of what they were into, they also had family members who loved them the same way that my son and mom love me. I saw that it was a bigger picture than just me in a box. Focus on the people that are really affected by this. This is not painless. It’s hurting the people that are law-abiding, that pay their taxes, that don’t hurt nobody,” he said. “Their only crime is to love somebody.”

“All that gang life folklore, the romanticism, it’s crap,” Paledes said. “As long as one kid sees beyond all that crap because of my situation, that’s fine.”

For Paredes, it may be too little, too late. History has shown that when a Texas death row inmate receives an execution date, it’s for keeps. But the killer seems to have concluded that he is where he belongs, in so many words, and has his own way of relaying reality.

“I stayed there in bed, wishing again and again to be able to take their pain away, but it was not up to me. Now I have heard from my loved ones, and seen the signs of sleepless nights and sorrow in their face, and have heard so much of the pain they feel, that I wish none of this was real, not for me, but for them,” he wrote on



A Sunny, Amish Saturday Afternoon

Visit to an Amish community in Iowa proven worth while

Summer has long-taken its last breath as fall tightens its grip in the Midwest, as the leaves fall and the temperatures drop. But instead of raking up nature’s seasonal statement, my girlfriend Julie and I planned a day out that was not so ordinary. Residing in northern Iowa only a short time, there’s much to see, and that includes culture of our beloved America. No, I’m not referring to corn or soybean farmers, nor were we intending to see cow or pig farms. The topic today is about the Amish community that has been in Iowa since about 1914.

To set the stage, the Amish had their beginning here in America well before the Declaration of Independence was thought of. Before our founding forefathers stood up to the British for independence, religious freedom was still controlled and dictated by the kingdom. But a new arrival in 1682, William Penn, made it his mission to change that before freedom from tyranny was declared – a sort of ‘religious experiment’ that would change the course of day-to-day adherence to the word of God.

Prior to Penn’s arrival, there was unrest between Catholic and Protestant leaders and Anabaptist’s in Switzerland. Catholics were largely against the practice of adult baptisms, and a man by the name of Jakob Ammann led a schism that in turn was shunned by Catholics and other religious leaders.

An Amish man makes a delivery of goods at a local store

An Amish man makes a delivery of goods at a local store

Penn, who created a refuge of sorts for native Americans and others who preferred freedom of religion after his arrival in America, led the charge for those who felt the shackles of popular religious practices shouldn’t pertain to them. His plight began in Pennsylvania, but has spread to several other states. The Amish in Hazleton represent a sect who were seeking a more conservative lifestyle than others within Iowa in 1914. Today, their plight to live free of electricity, motor vehicles and other modern conveniences is obvious right away.

About a 25 mile drive east of Waterloo, Iowa, we arrived on a picturesque mild day with crisp cool air, and a gentle breeze. We arrived rather hungry, but to our initial disappointment, we didn’t count on no restaurant in the Amish community. It is mostly made up of shops that have supplies for building, cooking and providing basic necessities.


All the ingredients for a tasty meal or a desert line the shelves at an Amish store

In between the stops at the various shops, we were afforded the opportunity to witness how the Amish live as well. Late October is harvest time in Iowa, but in the Amish Community, gathering the crops is done slightly different. With no dependence on large, industrious combines or tractors, Amish farmers depend highly upon horses and manpower to get the job done. Most Americans are accustomed to technology, and would otherwise be amazed at the hard work and resilience that goes in to farming without those luxuries. But many generations of proven methods and adherence to Amish customs make the chores look rewarding.

Nobody sits down on the job here.

An Amish man plows through the soil of his field, pulled by horses

An Amish man plows through the soil of his field, pulled by horses

There were jams, spice mixes, and flavors to add to meats and vegetables to liven the flavor. Baking products were a huge fare in the Amish stores, as were the meat rubs and jarred fruits, vegetables and meats. It seems there’s an order in the Amish community that has the males working the fields and the females caring for the home, meals and younger children. Amish sects believe a child needs just a basic education, and shun the idea of them joining the military, as they believe it takes them too close to the outside world. This, coupled with motorized vehicles, is frowned upon, for the Amish believe this would lure their “flock” away due to modern conveniences and society.


All natural, all home made

Besides the food-stuff Amish shops offer, there’s the superb woodworking and furniture. While it’s mostly not fancy, both are durable, made by hand and of quality construction. Costing about the same amount as pressboard and other cheap materials used in traditional furniture stores and toy outlets, one can expect these items to last many years more, if not for a lifetime. Workmanship is the pride of the Amish, who begin understanding at a very young age that hard work translates in to success and progress.

Entering an Amish furniture and woodcraft store

Entering an Amish furniture and woodcraft store

Toys, fit for Amish children and the like

Toys, fit for Amish children and the like

As mentioned, children learn the value of hard work early in life. Most Amish in the Iowa community begin having their children tag along as early as 4 or 5 years old. Without a doubt, this instills not only the nature of what their careers will entail, but also the discipline in order to pull off such feats as plowing a field without a tractor or other technologically advanced machinery. As for the females, it’s also taught from a young age how to bake, cook, perform laundry duties and other chores modern society does with ease (with the assistance of electricity and respective appliances, of course).

The value of an Amish’s days work is measured in pride, not possessions.

An Amish farmer totes his two young boy in a corn hauler for an early look at their lives to come

An Amish farmer totes his two young boys, no older than 6, in a corn hauler for an early look at their lives to come

Amish folks are shy, and are taught to avoid unnecessary contact with the modernized world. The temptation to leave the Amish world behind is too great in their belief, going so far as prohibiting even service to the military, as many do not return home if they do so. Some have hinted at the notion that this way of life is brainwashing or controlling the natural urge to explore, especially where other options to living are concerned. But one thing remains certain among a populace shielded from the problems of society in general in that they live a peaceful, forgiving lifestyle free of the rigors we label as stress.

If only it were that simple for we television-watchers, car drivers and late Sunday morning sleepers.

An abode cozy to the eye, occupied by a large Amish family

An abode cozy to the eye, occupied by a large Amish family

Julie and I travelled many miles in the community surrounding Hazleton on Saturday, each stop being as captivating as the last. We were both amazed and humbled by what we witnessed in the Amish community that day, and even pondered what life would be like under those circumstances. We surmised that it would be difficult to give up our way of life as we know it now for the existence of no television, radio or refrigerators. Life without electricity would be unheard of, unless we were born in to a world void of it and we knew no better. And I guess that’s how life really goes for us as individuals.

If I learned anything at all, it’s the lesson that we are products of those who not only bring us in to this world, but also items of their teachings and what we’re exposed to, whether a little or a lot.

A horse "in training"

A horse “in training”

Driving, redefined

Driving, redefined

Julie picks out her baking items

Julie picks out her baking items

The finest bread this side of the Mississippi

The finest bread this side of the Mississippi


Hazleton's beauty

Hazleton’s beauty


Throughout America: 20 Years of Personal Discovery – Chapt. 1

Chapt. 1: Leaving Home


Up until I was 28 years old, I hadn’t seen most of the country. In fact, Florida was almost all I knew before then. I had been to the Bahamas and Puerto Rico, and had been to the Carolina’s on a brief jaunt to visit “family” but otherwise, the Sunshine State was my entire world. Florida, I felt, had it all, and I never thought that there would be a need to venture outside of the peninsula to live elsewhere. But almost 20 years ago, I felt it was time for change. An epiphany, if you will.

I never knew my departure would bring adventure as it did.

Late in 1996, the planets aligned in my life to bring about change that would alter the course of my future as a whole. During that time, I had to face the fact that life was not where I wanted it to be, and I felt that drastic change would be a good remedy. So in that year, I decided to move away, accompanying my best friend, who was just as anxious to create a change in fortune as I. While I had no real plan, I knew that I had a good friend with me to help me along, who I might mention was plenty-wiser than myself.

We decided Spokane, Washington would be the destination. My friends sister lived there and we knew we’d have plenty of room to reside and set up our new lives. Room mates at the time in Orlando, we got rid of most of our large possessions, and packed the car full of belongings that we felt would be essential. Clothes, cookware and a few odds and ends filled the trunk and back seat.

As mentioned, I had been on road trips before, but nothing like this. The goal was to keep driving until too tired to continue, laying over in a random town here and there along the way. 2,800 miles was a long drive, and in the early weeks of November, the weather would be a trivial intro from state to state. It was going to be my first taste of bitter-cold weather outside of Florida, the state I was spoiled by with sunshine, warmth and beach-laden weekends.

When we said our goodbyes to family and friends, we had yet to decide the route in which we wanted to get to Spokane. The most direct route would have taken us through the heart land of the country, but we opted to take another route that would take us to the California coast and northward from there (an additional 800 miles, for a total of 3,600). I had always wondered to myself about the experience of seeing such sights as the Grand Canyon, Redwood Forest and steep cliffs over the ocean on the Pacific Coast Highway. I also dreamt of seeing some of the highest peaks in the lower 48. On this trip, I was to be shocked  over what my sub-tropical lifestyle had hidden from me all those years.

Life in Florida was mostly grand, in that I grew up with the afternoon thunderstorms in the summer and mild winters that still had weather good enough to go to the beach from time to time, even in December. There was an occasional tropical storm or hurricane, but it was a part of life and we knew no differently as natives. Some life-long residents complained from time to time when the weather wasn’t favorable, but the worst of those who complained were not originally from Florida at all. They complained of the bugs, the humidity and the heat. One transplant from Maine struck me as completely confused, and had done so because of his move from a region completely different from that of my home state.

“This humidity is killing me, there are storms all summer and hurricanes galore,” he would say. He also had much to say about the bugs, the economy and the attitudes of southerners. “If we saw bugs in our home up north, we’d contact the health department. People here don’t seem to care.”

Why people, namely from the northeast, move to Florida and have a problem with it after relocating there is a mystery to common sense. But as I move out of Florida, and in to Washington state, common sense sometimes seems wanton, as I’ve had the opportunity to see many walks of life across our great nation.

The car was packed full, and the anticipation was overwhelming. In some ways I was nervous, but in others, I was ready for something different. I was searching for something, but admittedly, I wasn’t certain what that was.

Tag along on my journey, as I try to make sense of it all.