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Friday, July 27, 2012

So THIS is news?

Woke up this morning to check the news.

These are some of the NEWS stories this morning.

Colorado shooting re-created in 3D

Kids punched, kicked at daycare

Suspect's son brawls with witness

Watch man survive 96,000-foot fall

Smoking orangutan heads to rehab

Video shows SeaWorld orca attack

And these are just from CNN.

I am seriously starting to wonder why I even check that source anymore. Or why people watch that network.

Of course, what other choice do most people have? Fox? MSNBC?

Comedy News Network?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Difference between "that" and "those" in a speech

Recently, President Obama created a good bit of controversy for a statement he made in a speech. It's a statement that, taken in isolation, sounds very bad.

But, taken in context of the whole speech (including the very next line of the speech when President Obama says "The point is ..."), the single line of the speech is precisely the same thing that his opponent (Governor Mitt Romney) has made repeatedly on the campaign trail.

President Obama and Governor Romney both agree, and have said so in speeches this week--that our successes are not only due to our hard work and initiative, but also happen because of help we receive along the way from many others, including governments (who help educate us, provide for our safe transportation, clean air and water, public safety, etc.).

Yet, even as Governor Romney has said this very thing (this week he even said good people in government have helped us, too) somehow this did not outrage Fox News as it did when President Obama used the word "that" instead of "those.")

Watch Jon Stewart's explanation now: 

Part 1:

Part 2:

Then come back and tell me how Governor Romney and Fox News can justify their invented and unnecessary outrage. And explain to me how Fox News could actually have two little girls who started a business on one of their programs and ask them "... how do you feel about the President saying that you needed help to start this business?"

And when they said that they DID have help from others, Fox News still did not get off the issue (nor did they acknowledge who paid for these kids' education .... um, taxpayers perhaps?).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Prison is a whole from where light does not emerge

In the book, it is shown that most Americans have never seen the inside of prisons, although shows such as LockUp, unrealistic though they may be, at least give people a glimpse of some of the realities of prison life.

Yet, it remains true that most of what goes on behind prison walls is completely unknown. Part of this is owing to the fact that the news media tend not to cover stories like this one:

Did you know prisoners in North Carolina had launched a hunger strike? Neither did I. Because it is not in the news, and the news is where we go for information.

This is just another example of the news media not doing its job. And since we are paying for incarceration, it is our business what goes on there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Independent media starting to ask tough questions ...

... in the wake of the mass shooting in Colorado.

So here is an example:

Friday's horrific shooting in Aurora, Colo.—one of the deadliest in U.S. history—has reignited the debate over gun control in America. Just how bad is the problem? Through media reports, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a nonprofit lobbying group, has compiled a list of 431 shootings with more than one victim since 2005. On average, according to the organization, a multiple-victim shooting happens every 5.9 days in the United States. The deadliest city in this period, according to the data, is Chicago, with 17 shootings since 2005—totaling 72 people wounded and 30 deaths. Thirteen of those shootings were in a public place. New Orleans, Kansas City, and Philadelphia were tied for second bloodiest, with nine shootings in this seven-year period. Plus, James Warren on why the Colorado shooting is tragically unsurprising.

Be sure to check out the interactive map for state-by-state comparisons.

Note: They tend to happen in the places where there are more people (e.g., the South!, California), AND the places with the death penalty. Interesting!

Monday, July 23, 2012

This is what happens when football comes first

Now it is front page news all over the US.

The NCAA announced a $60 million fine against Penn State University today and banned its football team from the postseason for four years. FULL STORY

NCAA Hits Penn State With Penalties Amid Scandal

URGENT: NCAA announces $60M fine for Penn State, four-year Bowl ban and loss of all victories from 1998-2011

There is a a lesson here for universities that want to put football first. When officials will protect even child rapists in order to success on the field.

I wish officials at my university would learn it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

And so it begins ...

And so it begins ... It's part of the 24 hour news cycle, referred to as the CNN Effect. People must be talking at all times not matter what, like silence is a bad thing.

Yep, it is the lead story

Early this morning I awoke to this...

Now it is of course the lead story everywhere:

And look carefully about what the media let you do with this story ... listen to the 9/11 calls, police radio, even look at graphic images of the victims! And we wonder why these things occur.

Federal officials: #Aurora gunman propped open rear door of theater, put on gear, threw tear gas and began shooting. " -
James Holmes, 24, is suspect in #Aurora shootings, say two federal law enforcement officials. " -
Witnesses: #Aurora gunman waited for 2 tear gas canisters to explode before firing into air and then at moviegoers. " -
Suspect in #theatershooting was dressed in black, wore bulletproof vest and riot or gas mask, witnesses say. " -
Police clarify number of wounded in #theatershooting is 38. " -

Colorado theater massacre

Gunman kills 12 at new Batman movie

• Suspect is 24-year-old James Holmes
• Black-clad gunman fired randomly
• Screaming moviegoers ran to escape
• Theater's back door was propped open
• Smoking canister tossed in

Police Trying to Disarm 'Booby Traps'
In Massacre Suspect's Apartment

URGENT: Police and FBI are questioning James Holmes, 24, the suspected gunman in a shooting early this morning at a crowded Aurora, Colo., movie theater that left 12 people dead and at least 50 wounded, as police work to disarm explosive 'booby traps' in his apartment.
  • Witness Thought It Was a Prank | Mall Shooting Survivor Among Victims | PHOTOS: Colorado Shooting Spree
  • WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES -- Alleged Victim Posts Pics
  • VIDEOS: Police Arrest Lone Suspect | Witness Describes 'Chaos' | Authorities Collect Evidence
  • VIDEOS: LISTEN: Police Radio After Theater Massacre | What Mark Will Theater Shooting Leave?
  • Mass Shooting in Colorado: How to Follow it on Twitter |
  • DR. ABLOW: Movie Had Nothing to Do With Shooting | NYC Police Express Concerns, Paris Cancels Opening

  • This will get interesting. Soon we'll learn of how the shooter was mad at the world for past wrongs, mentally ill yet untreated, and probably highly interested in and influenced by media images of violence. And of course we will learn nothing from it.

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    Let's be clear about non-profit media

    Non-profit media such as NPR are the best media available. They get the story right and are not motivated by profit. Not being constrained by a corporation that owns them, they are much more likely to ask tough questions, critically analyze claims by our leaders, and give us the information we need to function fully in a democracy.

    Here is an important example.
    A study by the Program on International Policy at the University of Maryland reported that a majority of Americans had significant misperceptions about Sadaam Hussein and Iraq prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    The study found that 48% incorrectly believed that evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda have been found (they did not exist), 22% that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq (there were none), and 25% that world public opinion favored the US going to war with Iraq (it did not). More than half (60%) had at least one of these three misperceptions.

    The misperceptions were also found to be related to support for the war on Iraq. For example:

    Among those with none of the misperceptions, only 23% reported supporting the war;
    Among those with one of the misperceptions, 53% reported supporting the war;
    Among those with two of the misperceptions, 78% reported supporting the war;
    Among those with all three misperceptions, 86% reported supporting the war.

    So being uninformed was related to higher support for the war and being informed was related to lower support for the war.

    How does relate to the media and NPR?

    Well, where you get your information impacts how informed or uninformed you are about the world and ultimately whether you support proposed policies like when leaders start talking about going to war.

    The study found that the number of misconceptions people held varied depending on their primary source of news. Viewers of TV News were most likely to have at least one misperception, led by Fox News (80%), followed by CBS (71%), ABC (61%), and NBC and CNN (55%). Only about half (47%) of people who reported relying on print sources had at least one misperception, followed by only 23% of listeners of National Public Radio (NPR) and viewers of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

    Got that? Listeners of NPR were the most informed and thus the least likely to support the war, a war that turned out to be a major, costly disaster.

    So when a Senator from Florida (who is on the short list of candidates for Vice President) starts questioning spending public money on public broadcasting, someone needs to call him out on it. Stated simply, if more people listened to NPR and less watched Fox News, we'd be a whole lot smarter and a whole lot less likely to be duped into stupid and unnecessary wars.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    What is most likely to kill you?

    What is more dangerous to you?



    Something else?

    What is your answer?

    In fact, murder kills about 15,000 people every year in the US. Smoking more than 430,000!

    Yet, the latter is legal. It is one of those "excluded harms" are far more dangerous than crime.

    Turns out another legal behavior is also very dangerous. And props to media organizations such as CNN for pointing it out.

    What is it? Not moving!

    Physical inactivity as deadly as smoking

    Now, one in every 10 deaths worldwide is caused by just sitting on your butt too much.

    Researchers say physical inactivity has become a global pandemic.
    Researchers say physical inactivity has become a global pandemic.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    How the local news works

    If you pay attention, you see it every day. This is how the local news works.

    First, you find a local crime story (or regional one if a local one is not available, and if that fails, a national one that is random or bizarre or that involves a young, white, female victim).

    This will do:

    Lake County deputies kill a man after knocking on wrong door (WESH)

    Cops shoot man dead — at wrong address

    Officers looking for an attempted murder suspect knock on the wrong door, with tragic results. 'Bizarre' circumstances

    Then you link it to any other stories that are similar in any way, such as:

    And then you run them, all together.

    See the link? Story one is about a tragic shooting. Story two is also about a shooting. The two have nothing to do with each other, but since they share the word "shooting" you go with it.

    People that shoot others can go to jail. So you run the third story because it has the word "jail" in it. Finally, story four deals with a Sheriff who runs a famous jail, so you can run that, too.

    It is sad, but it is in the news every day, just like this. And people are constantly bombarded with this news, thinking the world is a much meaner and scarier place than it really is.

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    How corporations control America

    Well, it is safe to say that you will not see articles like this in the mainstream (i.e., corporate) news).

    This is from Alternet:
    Photo Credit:
    The great power struggle of the 20th century was the competition between Soviet-style communism and "free-market" corporatism for domination of the world's resources. In America, it's taken for granted that Soviet communism lost (though China's more capitalist variant seems to be doing well), and the superiority of neo-liberal economics -- as epitomized by the great multinational corporations -- was thus affirmed for all time and eternity.

    There's a small problem with this, though. An old bit of wisdom says: choose your enemies carefully, because over time, you will tend to become the very thing you most strongly resist. One of the most striking things about our victorious corporations now is the degree to which they've taken on some of the most noxious and Kafkaesque attributes of the Soviet system -- too often leaving their employees, customers, and other stakeholders just as powerless over their own fates as the unhappy citizens of those old centrally planned economies of the USSR were back in the day.

    It's not just that the corporations have taken control over our government (though that's awful enough). It's also that they've taken control over -- and put serious limits on -- our choices regarding what we buy, where we work, how we live, and what rights we have. Our futures are increasingly no longer our own: more and more decisions, large and small, that determine the quality of our lives are being made by Politburo apparatchiks at a Supreme Corporate Soviet somewhere far distant from us. Only now, those apparatchiks are PR and marketing executives, titans of corporate finance, lobbyists for multinationals, and bean-counting managers trying to increase profits at the expense of our freedom.

    The rest of the article discusses how Americans are being controlled by large corporations, generally even as it highly pleases us because first and foremost we are consumers looking to simply buy (and have) more for less (and as little as possible). In other words, we like it.

    There is information here about how it impacts shopping, health care, education, and on and on.

    The only mention of crime is this:

    "Our increasingly privatized and militarized law enforcement is starting to owe a lot to the brutal Soviet policing style, too. We have gulags now -- and the corporations are running them, too."

    That is something that is lost on even most criminal justice majors -- the links between large corporatiosn and crime control mechanisms such as policing and especially corrections. And as long as the media are owned and controlled by corporations with the same overriding interests of making profit, they probably will not learn such lessons.

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012