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Op-Ed: Sanitized for Your Protection

I’m old enough to remember the Vietnam War. When I was young I would watch with fascination the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite on my families color Magnavox console television set.

Almost every night there would be pictures and video, taken by photographers and reporters that had pretty much free reign to go wherever they wanted of the war. Soldiers slogging through jungles rivers and streams with their machine guns above their heads, helicopters picking up wounded soldiers, carpet bombs being dropped on unnamed villages far below.

Many of the pictures were unedited, many of the videos shocking in both black and white and color showing soldiers bleeding to death, dying, shot through the heart or head, lying in their own blood, or of body bags waiting to be picked up. America saw the war every single night, right at dinner time.

Tonight’s war is brought to you by Palmolive Soap or Geritol or Chrysler. Every night, “Uncle Walter” as he was lovingly called, would dutifully tell us what was happening in those pictures and we learned the names of exotic far away places like Saigon, Denang, the Ho Chi Mihn Trail and Cambodia.

Walter and America also watched the young people protesting the war, burning draft cards, burning the flag. Walter, like an irritated grandfather, would report but you could tell he didn’t agree with “those hippies.”

Eventually after years of reporting on the war, he decided to see for himself what the vast majority of Americans already knew. He went to Vietnam to see what was going on.

He came back from observing the Tet Offensive and on February 27, 1968 Cronkite read these words to the nation:

“Both in Vietnam and Washington to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. For it seems now more certain than ever, that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could. This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.”

It was with those words, that the adults, the older people, the parents and grandparents that fought in World War II and thought the government was basically always right, and that we should never question our leaders, and that had supported the Vietnam War were finally given a heavy duty gut check.

If Walter Cronkite,the “most trusted man in America” a man their age whom they watched and trusted every night on the CBS Evening News had turned against the war, then perhaps all of those protesting kids in the streets weren’t totally wrong. Maybe the government hadn’t been complete straight with us about the toll of the war.

Because of Cronkite’s rebuttal of the war, Lyndon Johnson said at the time “If I have lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America” and decided not to run for reelection. It was Cronkite’s words that started the gradual, slow end to the conflict.

To this day, pictures of Kim Phuc running from a napalm bomb attack which burned the clothes off her body and of Life magazine covers are still part of the American psyche.

Video and still pictures are powerful things.

Pictures, both moving and still had changed the course of history.

Unedited video of Rodney King being beaten by Los Angeles police led to riots that led to reform.

Many of us remember the incredible videos shown over and over and over of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center building, people leaping from the 90th floor trying to save their lives.

Months and months of those images played on 24-hour cable news galvanized the country into war against Iraq. And so we went to war against a country that may or may not have had weapons of mass destruction or was even involved with the attacks themselves. We were convinced, as a country to do something because of pictures.

Since Viet Nam however and with the exception of 9/11, the depiction of violence and war in the news has become sanitized, pasteurized, and homogenized. Even the most innocuous of news stories that might have something controversial begin with a warning to get the kiddies out of the room.

Our US military no longer allows media photographers or videographers into war “hot zones” without a special escort, not unlike how North Korea only allows media into specific areas of their regimeand never without a government escort.

The official military reason is that it is for the photographers safety, but in reality, it is to make sure that only one side of the story is told. What we see is the version of war the military wants us to see.

Can you think of the last time on the US news, either network or cable, that you saw a US soldier actually having gotten shot, bleed and die like Walter Cronkite showed or Life Magazine printed? We see black and white high tech drone footage of some million dollar guided missile blowing up a building or cave or convoy, but we never see the actual bodies of the people in those buildings or caves or convoys.

War coverage becomes not much more than narration of a video game: Rated T for Teen.

We see the sanitized, wrapped-for-your-protection version of war. We only see the wins, we never see the losses.

We occasionally will see a picture of a set of coffins wrapped in American flags, but we never see how they got into those coffins to begin with. We see war that will not offend anyone. War, rated PG. Produced by your US Military.

Other countries have no such qualms about showing carnage both inflicted by US and to US. In fact, because middle eastern news, indeed most world news media readily show the aftermath of our bombings, our raids, and our excursions into hostile territory, their nightly news has become a great recruiter for those seeking revenge on the “great Satan.”

“Why are they so hostile towards us?” Americans often ask when hearing about another Islamic extremist group that is born out of the rubble of another neighborhood in a country where we decided that our “precision air strike” also might include a few kids and a few women out shopping for groceries.

We call that “collateral damage.” We don’t call them “dead civilians.”

Sanitized war.

Let the kids watch the news parents, they wont be offended. There is nothing on the news to upset anyone.

I was thinking about the sanitized news this week as our country endured yet another mass shooting at a school, this time in Florida. 17 Dead. 15 children and 2 adults. Kids who will never make it to prom, the next football game or graduation.

How do we show this on the news? We show kids running out of the building with their hands in the air, and then we show the yearbook pictures of the victims.

We never show the actual crime scene footage.

We never show the pictures of the students bleeding to death, dying, shot through the heart or head, lying in their own blood, or of body bags waiting to be picked up. Even in the worst of shootings, we show the sanitized versions.

Today’s shooting has been wrapped for your protection. Yes, lots of dead kids. But we won’t show you that. We will show you this like we did at Sandy Hook.

Here are the Florida victims, all so damn happy.

All happy smiley faces. See? Being shot through the head or heart or lungs or liver or major artery isn’t such a bad thing is it? Heck, they were probably smiling while being shot!

CBS News did run social media footage of the Florida High School shooting as it was happening, and told Politico:

“We think it is important to not conceal the horror of tragic events as we report on them, although we have been careful to add a warning about the graphic nature of the video so that viewers can watch it at their own discretion,” a CBS News spokesperson told POLITICO. And going forward, the CBS spokesperson added, the video would not be used in teases and the sound muted after about 10 seconds.“

Because it has to be sanitized for your protection. Produced by the NRA. Guns make you smile!

I think it is high time we start showing the actual crime scene photos of these shootings. We need the country to see what a 1st grader with her their head blown off looks like. We need to see a freshman high schooler emptied and dead in their own pool of blood. We need to see the horrible effects of exactly what this scourge of guns and gun violence looks like.

Not sanitized.

Not pasteurized.

No stupid fuzzed out areas that might offend sensitive viewers.

The images we show now on the nightly news and online of school shootings are the equivalent of the images the military wants us to see in Iraq.

What we need to show are the images that Al Jazeera is showing the populations across the globe. We need to show the Vietnam war.

People need to be uncomfortable. People need to get upset. People need to see truth.

We are at war with guns and the gun lobby and gun manufacturers and politicians that support them. A war just as much as the war in Vietnam. The only difference is that we are fighting this war against ourselves and the combatants are well financed gun lobbyists and politicians that have made pacts with the devil to sacrifice our school children in the name of being reelected. The enemy apparently are our children.

We need to convince the generation that would be listening to the Walter Cronkites of today that they need to change their minds about guns.

Just as powerful unedited, unsanitized images changed helped the course of history and helped to end the war in Vietnam, saving tens of thousands of young men from being slaughtered, we need to show the war that is happening in our schools, our movie theaters, our malls, our outdoor concerts and our Universities.

We need to show the dead, not smiling, but exactly as they were found by the authorities: crouching in fear, dead, with bullet wounds piercing their young bodies, mowed down in their prime.

Until we can make the public actually understand through pictures and video, just as we did in Vietnam, I don’t think much will change. We have to change the clean cut Andy Griffith narrative that the NRA wants you to see.

We need to un-sanitize, we need to un-pasteurize, we need to show exactly the effects of gun violence. We need to stop worrying that someone might be offended. We need to change minds.

We need to show how much damage a high powered rifle bullet can cause on human tissue.

We need to see the stories of children that have been permanently maimed by a gunman’s attack.

We need to show the those people that believe that dead children are simply the “price of freedom” and that NRA contributions trump common sense in some politicians minds.

Pictures and videos are powerful weapons.

It is time to unleash them again. Uncle Walter would be proud.


Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback. Feel free to leave a comment.  Read his previous columns here.

El Barrio Del Diablo: Fast Forward to the Music – A Case of Mistaken Identity

I wear sunglasses a lot. It could be overcast or raining, and I have them on. I’ve watched movies in a theater with shades on. And if I’m in a pool…no question. So like Jake and Elwood Blues, its nighttime and I’m wearing sunglasses…

I’m strolling along the strip in Vegas enjoying a pleasant night’s breeze and the multitude of colored lights that just go on forever like jewels against a dark desert sky. As I casually scan the sites I notice a couple a distance away, heading in my direction and they’re both looking at me.

Countless times I have noticed people staring at me in public, in various locations, but they are never aware that they also are being watched in return–with my eyes hidden behind a pair of Ray Bans. The couple is about thirty feet away so I pretend to stare at the swaying dances of the Bellagio fountains on my right, but I keep my vision on the couple.

As they get closer, the man turns his gaze away but the woman continues her ogling. As they pass close by she says,”Is that who I think it is?” The man answers,”It sure does look like him”.

This exchange left me to wonder,”Don’t they know that I can hear them? And, who do they think I am anyway?”

It was one of those odd moments.


Fast forward to a northwest setting: I sit waiting in my car at the Lakewood Park & Ride, a transit center just south of Tacoma, on a dark rainy evening. My son’s bus hasn’t arrived. He’s commuting from Seattle from an art gallery so I’m his ride home. The express buses are coming in every twenty minutes but he’s still not on any of them.

Multiple buses come and go; restless, I change radio stations trying to pass the time. I turn the music down low and listen to the rain come down when there’s a knock on my window. I turn to see a man looking in and I’m wondering what he needs. I glance at him. He doesn’t look shifty, so I roll down the window a couple inches.

“What’s up”, I ask. He begins,”Sorry to disturb you sir, but do you happen to have a dollar for a bus ride?” OK, here we go…I should have known…I’ve heard it before dozens of times (I’m sure many of us have). I know the bus system and the fares very well, so I quiz the guy.

“Where you going?” Without a pause he says,”Olympia”.

So I counter with,”And how much do you need?” “A dollar fifty”, he says without hesitation.

I immediately know he’s right and I now feel that he legitimately needs a handout. I give him two bucks, he thanks me several times and wishes me a good evening. I tell him to take it easy.

The real Tony Orlando

He’s about ten steps away when he turns and says, “Sorry again for bothering you, but I have to ask…are you Tony Orlando?”

At this precise moment I need distraction from a half hour of waiting for the right bus to arrive. I’m bored, so I said,”Yes I am”… and then wonder where this is gonna go. He pauses and grins and tells me in an excited voice,”I knew it, I knew it! … wow”, he continues,”glad to meet you!”

I grin and say thank you. Then he looks a little puzzled and says,”Wait, what are you doing here if you don’t mind my asking?” I reply,”I live here. I’m waiting for my son…he works in Seattle.”

“So you’re on vacation?”, he says curiously. “Yes, I’m taking a break and I go back to do some more shows next month”, I say matter-of-factly surprising myself for coming up with that line effortlessly.

He thanks me again and says “I really like your music”. “Thank you”, I reply with a smart-alec grin.

My son’s bus arrives and I notice the man actually does board the Olympia bus just like he said. After opening the passenger door, my son asks,”Who were you talking to?”

“A Tony Orlando fan”, I manage to say with a smirk. I tell him the story on the way home and he listens waiting for me to finish.

He then turns to me and says,”Did he ask you for an autograph?”

I laughed.

Jose Oswaldo RicoLeave a comment! I’d like to hear from you.

José Oswaldo Rico, Guest Contributor Previous  columns HERE

Southwest Airlines Expands Service at El Paso International Airport

On Wednesday, the City of El Paso and Southwest Airlines announced the sixth newest non-stop flight from El Paso International Airport.

“This is a major accomplishment for El Paso. We are listening to our community and making major progress in offering more options to fly to popular destinations. We are excited to announce these great opportunities for leisure and business travelers alike,” Mayor Dee Margo said.

The El Paso airport will now offer a new, non-stop flight to San Diego and additional flights to Las Vegas.

“We are working continuously to increase connectivity in El Paso, with each additional non-stop flight we are achieving our goal to grow the core business of air transportation.” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said.

Southwest Airlines released their flight schedule through June 1, 2018. The new non-stop flight to San Diego will commence March 11, 2018, and will fly on Sundays.

Two additional non-stop flights to Las Vegas will commence April 14, 2018, and will also be flying on Sundays. Flights can be booked now at

Other recent additional non-stop flights include:

  • Frontier Airlines to Denver – announced July 18, 2017, begins March 8, 2018
  • United Airlines added 4th daily flight to Denver – began on April 5, 2017
  • Allegiant Airlines to San Diego and Las Vegas – began May 6, 2016
  • Allegiant Airlines to Orlando-Sanford – began May 27, 2016
  • Allegiant Airlines to Oakland – began October 6, 2016

According to the website  the following list shows the direct, nonstop flights from El Paso.

Domestic non stop flights from El Paso may fly to:

  • ATL – Atlanta, Georgia – Delta
  • AUS – Austin, Texas – ExpressJet Airlines, American, Southwest
  • AZA – Phoenix, Arizona – Swift Air LLC
  • DAL – Dallas, Texas – Southwest
  • DEN – Denver, Colorado – SkyWest Airlines, Trans States Airlines
  • DFW – Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas – American, Mesa Airlines
  • HOU – Houston, Texas – Southwest
  • IAH – Houston, Texas – Spirit Air Lines, SkyWest Airlines, Trans States Airlines, Mesa Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines
  • LAS – Las Vegas, Nevada – Allegiant Air, Southwest
  • LAX – Los Angeles, California – Southwest, SkyWest Airlines
  • ORD – Chicago, Illinois – Envoy Air
  • PHX – Phoenix, Arizona – Mesa Airlines, Southwest
  • SAN – San Diego, California – Allegiant Air
  • SAT – San Antonio, Texas – Swift Air LLC, Southwest
  • SFB – Sanford, Florida – Allegiant Air

International non stop flights from El Paso may fly to:

  • MEX – Mexico City, Mexico – Swift Air LLC

Allegiant Expands Non-Stop El Paso Service

Allegiant begins its inaugural flight from El Paso to Orlando/Sanford on May 27, 2016. Orlando/Sanford is El Paso’s 12thmost popular destination and is the first non-stop to Florida.

“We are extremely pleased that Allegiant will be providing non-stop, seasonal service to Orlando/Sanford, a popular tourist spot due to nearby theme parks and beaches.

Combined with the non-stop service they provide from El Paso to San Diego and Las Vegas, Allegiant now offers service to three desirable tourist destinations,” said Monica Lombraña, A.A.E. Director of Aviation.

Allegiant seasonal service from El Paso to Orlando/Sanford and will operate on Monday and Friday with the following flights:

El Paso Departures:                       

Departs from El Paso                      4:56 p.m.

Arrives Orlando/Sanford                  10:19 p.m.

Orlando/Sanford Departures:

Departs from Orlando/Sanford         2:30 p.m.

Arrives El Paso                              4:16 p.m.

Allegiant will be using 177-seat AIRBUS 320 between the two airports. El Paso’s airport will now provide the region with non-stop service to 12 cities and 14 airports.

For additional information visit:

Cruz’n the Borderland: Viva Las Vegas

I always say the wife and I LOVE to travel.  We have a slight problem, though.  Majority of trips we take usually end up out West, off I-10 , up 93, then a slight detour to I-515…to the bright lights of Las Vegas.

*cue the Elvis*

Ah, Las Vegas…”the meadows”…A city that’s gonna  set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire! So much of my later part of life has been spent planning trips, putting miles on the car, eating the food that can only be found in the 702…how many pictures I’ve taken,  even got married there!

2167Yup, true story…I am that guy who said, “lets do something crazy…lets get married in Vegas.”  (ok, sure, I aint the first one… FRIENDS did it before me, and Britney Spears had her  Vegas wedding annulled, but me and the wife…we did it! We eloped and everything!!)  and we have  visited at least once a year, for the passed 8 years.

Not because we are big spenders, but  because there’s something about that city that calls us.  Something about it that makes us call it HOME.  The draw, the allure, the energy.

Pulls us in every time.  No sooner does one vacation end we are already planning the next one…which family/friends can we take with us next time….what place didn’t we visit that we can come back to…or where can we re-visit?

The city moves, you have to move with it.    For example, in a mere matter of a few years, the city has changed drastically.   In the early 90’s  it tried its best to become a family destination by theme-ing  casinos, and bringing more kid-friendly attractions.   It worked for a little bit, but then the city learned a costly mistake…families don’t gamble.

The city almost started hemorrhaging money! It needed to go back to its roots, back to that thing that put it on the map to begin with.  That thing that  paved the streets originally…gambling . In fact,  that’s where the whole idea of “What happens in Vegas stay in Vegas” comes from.

Nowadays, add in a high end buffet and top dollar show, and you’re are back in bossiness.  But surly, you ask….surly there’s more to it that12184 that??  Yeah, there is.  Its just hard to pin point the feeling we have about it, exactly.     But we like to call it home.  Why, you ask?

I think the absolute best way to explain it is this way….Las Vegas allows you to be someone your not.  Not in a lying, deceiving way…but in a
way that everyone there is new, fresh…looking to be something that they WANT to be.   Its not putting a mask on, and pretending…its letting the inner person you have inside, come out and play.

I have a friend here in town, who is average ordinary school teacher.  Nothing fancy or special, just a guy who goes to work, and does his best to enrich the lives of our kids.

If only they knew that in Las Vegas, he’s a high roller, with platinum status…sleeping in the best rooms, eating the best foods.   Professor High Roller, indeed.

12183Now, here’s the best part of all of this:  Las Vegas is the 29th most populated city in America, with a number count of just over 2 million people.  But when you mention “Las Vegas”…people tend to think of one of two streets.

That’s like talking about El Paso, and the first thing that comes to mind is George Dieter and  Montana!!      What a marvelous trick the city has pulled.

The city is always changing, evolving, and dare one say, improving.  Given a choice, I wish I could go back in time when the Mob controlled the city, not the mega corporation that do now.   Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to do and see, but after visiting 3-4 casinos  they are pretty much the same.

Casino room here, food courts over there, over THERE is the 2 fancy-high end restaurants…just passed the elevators is the gift shop, or mall as it may be in some….*sigh*.   But to have been able to visit in the 50s and 60s, where you could enjoy the finer things that were not attainable in your everyday, mundane life.

Oceans 11You walked into a club, and was treated like royalty, never really making eye contact with anybody, only glances to show acknowledgement.

And if you DID see someone you knew, you didn’t say hello.  Maybe a wink a or a slight tilt of the head, and everyone went about their business.

There’s nothing wrong with the modern day Las Vegas.   Fun can still be had  and now it seems the more you venture off the Strip or even downtown, the more, dare I say cooler things can be found.  From famous  pawn shops, to a pinball hall of fame, a little research of things to do will bring a variety of results that get you off the hustle and bustle of the over-priced and overly crowded luxury-themed resort filled Strip!

The city as whole has a certain…freshness, energy, evolution, fulfilling familiarity to it and that sounds  a lot  like HOME to me.

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