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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why, exactly, is this a national news story?

Prosecutor out 'to discover truth' about teen's death

Parents believe son was murdered

State authorities ruled no foul play was involved in the death of Kendrick Johnson, who was found in a rolled up gym mat. A federal prosecutor says he's opening a formal review of the case.FULL STORY
In fact, why is any one murder ever a national news story? A leading story especially?
With 14,000-16,000 murders in any given year, why are some newsworthy whereas others are not?
And what about the hundreds of thousands and millions of others who are killed through the reckless and negligent actions of other people that never make the news?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

These are your TOP criminal justice policy stories in the news right now ...

... according to Google News. Personally I think stories number 7 and 9 are the most interesting.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A man steals a wallet from Wal-Mart ...

... and it is front page news.

He netted what, $10?

He gets arrested, prosecuted, and convicted. Then he spends some time in jail (weeks or months). All this costs us far more than the damage he caused us through his crime.

A man robs a bank ...

and it is front page news.

He netted what, $6,000?

He gets arrested, prosecuted, and convicted. Then he spends some time in prison (years). All this costs us far more than the damage he caused us through his crime.

So we're losing money from street crime. And it is news.

Then we spend more to punish them than their crimes cost us. And it is not news.

People come along and wreck the economy. They do it through willful and reckless acts. We know who they are. Where they are. We know exactly what they did.

They netted hundreds of millions, and some billions of dollars. In fact, their acts cost the US economy between $11-22 TRILLION!

This amounts to $104,350 for every household in the US!

Or, somewhere between 600 to 1,200 years worth of street crime (direct losses caused by theft, burglary, and motor vehicle theft).

Yet, who has been arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and punished for these acts?

No one. Not one.

Take JP Morgan, for example. Fraud committed by executives working for this company helped cause the financial crisis that led to the losses noted above.

Yet, no one with the company faces charges or hard time.

Instead, the company is being fined $13 billion for their acts.

No one will admit guilt. No one will go to prison.

Compare this with your average bank robber. He tends to net about $4,000 to $8,000 if he gets away with it (which he rarely does). Then, he will face a sentence of about seven to ten years, if not longer!

This will cost taxpayers about $300,000 on average, far more than the damage actually caused by the robbery.

Again, not news.

What about the corporate bandits who cripple our economy through their widespread fraud?

We let them walk free so they can continue to harm us.

This summer, Bloomberg News reported:

The six biggest U.S. banks, led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Bank of America Corp., have piled up $103 billion in legal costs since the financial crisis, more than all dividends paid to shareholders in the past five years.

That’s the amount allotted to lawyers and litigation, as well as for settling claims about shoddy mortgages and foreclosures, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The sum, equivalent to spending $51 million a day, is enough to erase everything the banks earned for 2012.

The mounting bills have vexed bankers who are counting on expense cuts to make up for slow revenue growth and make room for higher payouts. About 40 percent of the legal and litigation outlays arose since January 2012, and banks are warning the tally may surge as regulators, prosecutors and investors press new claims. The prospect is clouding outlooks for stock prices, and by some estimates the damage could last another decade.

And no prison time. None at all.

Where are the media on this one?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What can you do when your news is FAKE?

So, if you are the typical American, you get whatever news you watch from TV.

And the most watched network is, incredibly, Fox News.

The network features "newsy" talk shows--opinion shows really--the purport to show serious analyses of social policies such as the Affordable Care Act (or "Obamacare").

People watch these shows. And they take them as gospel truth.

But what if they are, literally, fake? Not Jon Stewart of the Daily Show fake (a show that offers facts but does so in a comedic way), but fake, as in wrong. Intentionally distorted. Lies. 


Take this example from

I happened to turn on the Hannity show on Fox News last Friday evening. “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity announced, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.”  Three married couples were neatly arranged in his studio, the wives seated and the men standing behind them, like game show contestants.

As Hannity called on each of them, the guests recounted their “Obamacare” horror stories: canceled policies, premium hikes, restrictions on the freedom to see a doctor of their choice, financial burdens upon their small businesses and so on.

“These are the stories that the media refuses to cover,” Hannity interjected.

But none of it smelled right to me. Nothing these folks were saying jibed with the basic facts of the Affordable Care Act as I understand them. I understand them fairly well; I have worked as a senior adviser to a governor and helped him deal with the new federal rules.

I decided to hit the pavement. I tracked down Hannity’s guests, one by one, and did my own telephone interviews with them.

First I spoke with Paul Cox of Leicester, N.C.  He and his wife Michelle had lamented to Hannity that because of Obamacare, they can’t grow their construction business and they have kept their employees below a certain number of hours, so that they are part-timers.

Obamacare has no effect on businesses with 49 employees or less. But in our brief conversation on the phone, Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce?

“Well,” he said, “I haven’t been forced to do so, it’s just that I’ve chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs.” What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he’d call me back. He never did.

There is only one Obamacare requirement that applies to a company of this size: workers must be notified of the existence of the “” website, the insurance exchange. That’s all.

Next I called Allison Denijs.  She’d told Hannity that she pays over $13,000 a year in premiums. Like the other guests, she said she had recently gotten a letter from Blue Cross saying that her policy was being terminated and a new, ACA-compliant policy would take its place. She says this shows that Obama lied when he promised Americans that we could keep our existing policies.

Allison’s husband left his job a few years ago, one with benefits at a big company, to start his own business. Since then they’ve been buying insurance on the open market, and are now paying around $1,100 a month for a policy with a $2,500 deductible per family member, with hefty annual premium hikes.  One of their two children is not covered under the policy. She has a preexisting condition that would require purchasing additional coverage for $600 a month, which would bring the family’s grand total to around $20,000 a year.

I asked Allison if she’d shopped on the exchange, to see what a plan might cost under the new law. She said she hadn’t done so because she’d heard the website was not working. Would she try it out when it’s up and running? Perhaps, she said. She told me she has long opposed Obamacare, and that the president should have focused on tort reform as a solution to bringing down the price of healthcare.

I tried an experiment and shopped on the exchange for Allison and Kurt. Assuming they don’t smoke and have a household income too high to be eligible for subsidies, I found that they would be able to get a plan for around $7,600, which would include coverage for their uninsured daughter. This would be about a 60 percent reduction from what they would have to pay on the pre-Obamacare market.
Allison also told me that the letter she received from Blue Cross said that in addition to the policy change for ACA compliance, in the new policy her physician network size might be reduced.  That’s something insurance companies do to save money, with or without Obamacare on the horizon, just as they raise premiums with or without Obamacare coming.

If Allison’s choice of doctor was denied her through Obamacare then, yes, she could have a claim that Obamacare has hurt her. But she’d also have thousands of dollars in her pocket that she didn’t have before.

Finally, I called Robbie and Tina Robison from Franklin, Tenn.  Robbie is self-employed as a Christian youth motivational speaker. (You can see his work here.) On Hannity, the couple said that they, too, were recently notified that their Blue Cross policy would be expiring for lack of ACA compliance. They told Hannity that the replacement plans Blue Cross was offering would come with a rate increase of 50 percent or even 75 percent, and that the new offerings would contain all sorts of benefits they don’t need, like maternity care, pediatric care, prenatal care and so forth.  Their kids are grown and moved out, so why should they be forced to pay extra for a health plan with superfluous features?

When I spoke to Robbie, he said he and Tina have been paying a little over $800 a month for their plan, about $10,000 a year. And the ACA-compliant policy that will cost 50-75 percent more? They said this information was related to them by their insurance agent.

Had they shopped on the exchange yet, I asked? No, Tina said, nor would they. They oppose Obamacare and want nothing to do with it. Fair enough, but they should know that I found a plan for them for, at most, $3,700 a year, 63 percent less than their current bill.  It might cover things that they don’t need, but so does every insurance policy.

It’s true that we don’t know for sure whether certain ills conservatives have warned about will occur once Obamacare is fully enacted. For example, will we truly have the same freedom to choose a physician that we have now? Will a surplus of insured patients require a scaling back (or “rationing,” as some call it) of provided healthcare services?  Will doctors be able to spend as much time with patients? These are all valid, unanswered questions. The problem is that people like Sean Hannity have decided to answer them now, without evidence. Or worse, with fake evidence.

I don’t doubt that these six individuals believe that Obamacare is a disaster; but none of them had even visited the insurance exchange. And some of them appear to have taken actions (Paul Cox, for example) based on a general pessimistic belief about Obamacare. He’s certainly entitled to do so, but Hannity is not entitled to point to Paul’s behavior as an “Obamacare train wreck story” and maintain any credibility that he might have as a journalist.

Strangely, the recent shutdown was based almost entirely on a small percentage of Congress’s belief that Obamacare, as Ted Cruz puts it, “is destroying America.”  Cruz has rarely given us an example of what he’s talking about.  That’s because the best he can do is what Hannity did—exploit people’s ignorance and falsely point to imaginary boogeymen.


When does the FCC shut this network down? It is, after all, not real news. Instead, it is propaganda, defined as "information, esp. of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view."


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fox distorts research on anti-bullying program ....

.... for a purely partisan purpose to create, yet again, the impression that conservative views are being repressed by liberal establishments. Like schools (lol).


From this article:

Fox News attacked efforts to restrict school bullying by describing them as attempts to limit conservative free speech and misrepresenting a study on the effectiveness of certain anti-bullying programs.

During the October 20 edition of America's News HQ, Fox's resident pro-discrimination crusader Shannon Bream invited Fox News contributor David Webb and radio host Mark Levine to discuss whether efforts to combat school bullying "suppress" conservative students' right to free speech:

As Levine points out, both Bream and Webb fail to distinguish between acts of bullying - which typically target an individual and involve personal attacks - and purely political speech. It's unclear how a student speaking in favor of the Second Amendment would be punished under a school's anti-bullying policy so long as he or she avoided making threats of violence against other students.
Bream also grossly mischaracterizes a recent University of Texas, Arlington study, which found that certain school programs to combat bullying might backfire by teaching students new ways to bully their peers. Both Bream and Webb cite the study as proof that anti-bullying policies are cumbersome and generally ineffective.

In reality, however, the authors of the UT Arlington study stated that their findings should be used to develop more aggressive and sophisticated anti-bullying efforts:
The study suggested that future direction should focus on more sophisticated strategies rather than just implementation of bullying prevention programs along with school security measures such as guards, bag and locker searches or metal detectors. Furthermore, given that bullying is a relationship problem, researchers need to better identify the bully-victim dynamics in order to develop prevention policies accordingly, [Seokjin Jeong, lead author of the study,] said.
The study also found that a lack of supportive involvement from teachers increased the risk of bullying victimization, further highlighting the importance of school involvement in efforts to combat bullying.

Fox's segment comes just days after the network appeared to participate in Spirit Day, an event meant to show support for victims of anti-LGBT bullying. The network has a history of downplaying or ignoring the impact of bullying against LGBT youth and mocking attempts to protect students from harassment at school.


This reminds me of the stories Fox runs each and every year about the war on Christmas.

Yet, each and every year, we have another Christmas. And people freely celebrate it without any interference whatsoever from the government, or the media, or even private for-profit businesses who choose to say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" just to be inclusive (as Presidents Obama, and Bush, and hell even the sainted President Reagan, did on their holiday cards).

Shoot, look what Fox News says about putting a dog on the front of a holiday card!

I, for one, see what is going on here. Fox News has a delusion of persecution. And they're just trying to suck the rest of us into it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Seeing corrections

In the book I show how people rarely get to see corrections. I mean, really see it.

Because the media tend to focus least on this branch of criminal justice.

And because what goes on behind closed doors has historically been hidden from us.

But in this stunning set of photographs, we see to at least a small degree what it really looks like to be locked up in America.

What is amazing is that these are photos of children.

As you look through them, keep in mind the historical reasons the juvenile justice system was created. To act as a parent to needy and at risk children. To help kids who need help (i.e., rehabilitation). In that context, this is shocking.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wanna see bias in the media?

Here you go.

Lead story on CNN:
Watch this video

Most say Boehner should go

According to the CNN/ORC survey, 54% say it's a bad thing that the GOP controls the House, and most say House Speaker Boehner should be replaced. FULL STORY

Lead story on Fox:

vows to fix ObamaCare site issues

Now, to CNN's credit, they do have a story on their front page about the problem with Obamacare's website. But Fox does not have a story about who is to blame for the government shutdown.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crimes on the front page

So what is new about today?

Well, the government shutdown and the possibility of failing to raise the debt limits are still in the news. Because of a few dozen loony lawmakers who are simply out of touch with reality.

But beside that, it is more of the same ...

NEW Police: Arrest in LAX dry ice blasts

Chief: 64 cops + 137 shots = law broken
Ripken's mom thwarts carjacking try

2 girls arrested after bullying death

Mug shot extortion sites are still running

Cop shoots would-be motorcycle thief

What an awful world we live in, if you believe the news.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Media still following the shutdown ...

Watch this video

Speaker: 'Lot of opinions' about what to do

Boehner's remarks about the House GOP's plans came a day after Senate leaders said they were nearing a deal to end the shutdown. FULL STORY

So you'd think the nation is hopelessly deadlocked, no? Like there are two sides representing two groups of people that simply do not agree?

That would be a result of how this event is being and has been covered by the news.

But, according to a new report from NBC News, Americans share much more in common that you might imagine. See?

EXCLUSIVE: America isn't as divided as we think

Image: Who's in the American Center?

'Very anxious': Is America scared of diversity?

Quiz: Where do you stand?

It's just that this particular event and the way it is being covered is creating the impression that there are two Americas, each divided deeply from the other on fundamental issues, thereby explaining the deadlock in Congress.

The reality is, we now know why the shutdown persists. So if you have five minutes--just five minutes--you can understand it too. Right here:

Monday, October 14, 2013

The bravest girl in the world ....

.... as some have called here, is telling President Obama that drones are 'fueling terrorism."

Wonder if he will listen to her?

Malala Yousafzai Tells Obama Drones Are "Fueling Terrorism"
This story is one you won't hear much about in the mainstream news. Same can be said for these, each with clear implications for crime and justice:

Five Totally Avoidable Tragedies Caused by the Shutdown

By Robin Marty, Care2 | Report
US Accused of Unprecedented Assault on Press Freedom

US Accused of Unprecedented Assault on Press Freedom

By Ramy Srour, Inter Press Service | Report

Report Finds Police Worldwide Criminalize Dissent, Assert New Powers in Crackdown on Protests

Report Finds Police Worldwide Criminalize Dissent, Assert New Powers in Crackdown on Protests

By Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Video Interview 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I want to know ...

WHO watches these videos?

I mean, these are advertised as top stories.

Baby Veronica's dad: No more fighting HLN

Do these stories add anything to our lives? Do they provide information on the world? Do they inform us? Do we learn important things from them?
Do you actually watch these?