About Walter Brasch

Columnist, author, journalism professor. Latest book is BEFORE THE FIRST SNOW: STORIES FROM THE REVOLUTION, a look at the couterculture from 1964, as seen through the eyes of a "flower child" who is now middle-aged--and of the reporter who covered her story. The book is available through Amazon.com . . . Check out website, www.walterbrasch.com for further info. Or, just write me: walterbrasch@gmail.com

Katrina: A 10-Year Review

by Walter Brasch This week is the 10th anniversary of the destruction of the southeastern gulf coast by Hurricane Katrina. More than 1,800 people died. There is no estimate for the number of pets and wildlife. Damage was estimated at more than $100 billion. About 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded. In Mississippi, the water surge flooded as much as 10 miles from the beaches. The Category 3 storm should not have caused that much damage, but it exposed poorly-designed levees that should have protected New Orleans. Sanctimonious critics, many of them conservative politicians, claimed that if the residents had evacuated New Orleans like they were ordered, the death toll and suffering would have been significantly less. What they … Continue reading

Canned Pleasure: The Thrill of the Kill

By Walter Brasch Would you like to go to Zimbabwe, kill and behead a lion, just like that dentist from Minnesota or the physician from Pittsburgh recently did? They paid about $50,000 each for that experience. How about a black rhino, an endangered species? A professional hunter from Dallas, Texas, won a $350,000 lottery to stalk and kill that animal in southern Namibia. In the 1950s, there were about 70,000 black rhinos. There are now fewer than 2,400, most of them killed off by the human predators. If giraffes are your thing, you can go to South Africa and, like a woman from Idaho, kill the world’s tallest animal, pose with it, and post it onto your Facebook page. But, … Continue reading

Their Cheatin’ Souls: Short Circuiting Ethics in America

    by Walter Brasch   New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady says he had nothing to do with having air removed from game balls. The NFL, following an investigation, says he did. It gave him a four game suspension, which he is appealing. That four game suspension could cost him somewhere between $2 million and $4 million of his $14 million 2015 salary. If he plays well with others, doesn’t get into any more trouble, and injuries and retirement don’t stop his career before he becomes 40 years old in 2017, he will earn $31 million for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The NFL also fined the Patriots $1 million and required the team to forfeit its first round … Continue reading

Three Commandments for Every State Capitol

    by Walter Brasch   The Oklahoma Supreme Court this past week ordered the legislature and the executive branch to remove a six-foot tall Ten Commandments granite monument from the front of the state house. The monument was placed there in January and is a direct violation of the First Amendment. The response by dozens of legislators, most of whom may be illiterate about the Constitution, was to call for the impeachment of the justices. The state’s attorney general who, presumably, took Constitutional Law in college, said he would appeal the decision. He, and many legislators, are also thinking of repealing the part of the state constitution that prohibits the use of public funds for religious purposes. The only … Continue reading

Whoopin’ and a-Hollerin’ for the Plantation Life

  by Walter Brasch   Judge A. Joseph Antanavage, with shotgun in hand, stood before a modified Confederate battle flag, and looked as if he had planned to defend whatever it is that the Confederate flag stands for. But, this wasn’t in the South. This was at a pigeon shoot near Hamburg, Pa. Pennsylvania is not only where the only legal organized pigeon shoots still exist, but where it’s not unusual to see shooters waving the Confederate flag or wearing clothing that features the flag. Pennsylvania is the Keystone state, the state where the Declaration of Independence was written, and the Articles of Confederation approved. It is where Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863, four months … Continue reading

The Business of Wall Street

  by Walter Brasch   If you don’t mind working hard—and partying even harder—why not get a business degree, take a couple of state and federal tests, and become a Wall Street trader? These are the people who are the current crop of Gordon Gekkos—you know, the pretend-fictional character portrayed by Michael Douglas in Wall Street. The men spend thousands of dollars on suits, ties, and cocaine. The women spend thousands just to own a closet of Jimmy Choo shoes. But their existence is shrouded by a coop they call an office or cubicle. Their tools are multiple phone lines and computer screens. The chase for money—and perhaps the excitement in getting people to give up a chunk of their … Continue reading

Citizen-Journalist Fined for Telling the Truth

  by Walter Brasch   Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa., was found to be in contempt of court, Thursday, and fined $1,000. Her offense? She tells the truth. Truth is something that apparently has bypassed the court of Judge Kenneth W. Seamans, who retired at the end of 2014, but came out of retirement to handle this case. The case began in October 2013. Scroggins, a retired real estate agent and nurse’s aide, was in Common Pleas Court to explain why a temporary injunction should not be issued against her. That injunction would require her to stay at least 150 feet from all properties where Cabot Oil and Gas had leased mineral rights, even if that distance was on … Continue reading

A Call for Fair Pay for College Athletes

  by Walter Brasch   Some people foolishly believe the purpose of a college education is to further one’s education. To explore new cultures and views. Perhaps to help make a difference in the world. They, of course, are wrong. The purpose of going to college is to party, make contacts, and get a job. Sometimes the job is as a shift manager at a fast food restaurant. Sometimes it’s as a professional athlete. March Madness, the nation’s annual tribute to tall teenagers who can dunk a basketball, is now over. A few of the starters will become professional basketball players this year; some in the next year or the year after that. The University of Kentucky and Duke University, … Continue reading