July 30, 2009

AP Headline Distorts Cambridge Cop Lashley’s Position on Crowley-Gates

CNNlashleyInterviewPic0709Cambridge Police Officer Sgt. Leon Lashley, the African-American cop who was with James Crowley during Crowley’s arrest of Henry Louis Gates last week, is learning the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished — especially one that involves speaking out in support of a fellow officer who happens to be white.

He’s also learning that the wretches who write headlines for the Associated Press can willfully distort his take on events in their headline in the hope that readers don’t read or click over to the actual text to see how he really feels.

Here is the example to which I refer:


As written, the headline will gave many readers who go no further the impression that Lashley may somehow be sorry for supporting Crowley. But there is nothing in the unbylined four-paragraph report that indicates anything resembling “regret” on Lashley’s part. In fact, you’ll notice in the third paragraph that Lashley ripped into Gates, saying that Gates “may have caused grave and potentially irreparable harm to the struggle for racial harmony.” Truth to power, so to speak, with no tinge of “regret.”

As a reminder, here is what Sgt. Lashley told CNN yesterday about Crowley and the related incident (video is at link):

Sgt. Leon Lashley, Cambridge MA Police: It happened to be a white officer on a black man, and the common call a lot of times is to call it a racist situation.

Let me, don’t get me wrong, it does happen. It has happened here in Cambridge. And I can’t say it will not ever happen again in Cambridge. (But) the situation here was not a racial(ly) motivated situation.

CNN (Reporter Don Lemon): And you know people obviously are going to be paying closer attention to you, because you’re an African-American man. I’m just being honest. And you’re supporting this white officer, that it has been put out there by some that “he was racially profiling Dr. Gates.” They’re going to pay attention to you.

Sgt. Lashley: I hope they would. I heard one of the comments call him a rogue cop. There’s nothing rogue about him. He was doing his job.

Kelly King, a fellow African-American officer, also supported Crowley in that same interview:

CNN (addressing Officer King): When you heard about what happened with this sergeant, what did you think?

Officer King, Cambridge MA Police: I was appalled. I know Jimmy. I’ve known him for more than the 11 years with the Cambridge Police. I knew him when he worked for Harvard.

I know him to be a good police officer, a good man, with character, and I knew these charges were bogus. There has been a tremendous rush to judgment. And I think the thing to be learned first and foremost from this is to look at all of the evidence, to consider all, to weigh all. I think Professor Gates has done a very good job at throwing up a very effective smoke screen, calling “racism,” as it had nothing to do with it.

CNN: And the President?

Officer King: It’s unfortunate. I supported him. I voted for him. I will not again.

I agree that I think it’s admirable that he would speak on behalf of his friend. But he should have recused himself. He should have stepped back, and he should have said, “I support my friend but I don’t have all the facts. I won’t weigh in yet.”

CNN: The Governor? (Deval Patrick)

Officer King: I would apply the same to him.

CNN: What do want people in the country to know who have already made up their mind about Jimmy Crowley?

Officer King: Keep their minds open, and realize that we would not support someone that we felt wronged someone else. We took this job to do the right thing. We all took this job to do the right thing. We would not support anyone in blue doing the wrong thing.

It’s a safe bet that Sgt. Lashley and Ms. King still have not one iota of regret for their passionate support of Crowley. They may regret, as do many of us, that we live in such a breathtakingly irresponsible establishment media environment. There’s little doubt that they both regret that this country has a President who can make a self-admitted fact-lacking rush to judgment who won’t even say “I am sorry” for his errors.

There is a better though still less than perfect headline for the same story, found here at the Mount Vernon (OH) News:

Black officer at Gates’ home during arrest says he’s become ‘Uncle Tom’ for supporting officer

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

MA Zoo-Funding Battle Hints At PC Zoo-Management Infection

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:57 pm

BostonZooPostPic0709The zoo I’m referring to is the Franklin Park Zoo (FPZ), not the Massachusetts Legislature or the Bay State’s Executive Branch — though the slang version of the word’s meaning likely applies to all of them.

As reported in a July 10 Boston Globe story, in reaction to Governor Deval Patrick’s line-item veto of $4 million of the FPZ’s $6.5 million annual subsidy, Zoo New England, which runs the FPZ’s two zoo sites, “…. in a written statement that echoed a letter sent earlier to legislative leaders, said they would be unlikely to find homes for at least 20 percent of the animals, ‘requiring either destroying them, or the care of the animals in perpetuity.’”

After a fierce public and political backlash, zoo management appeared to pull back. Glen Johnson at the Associated Press on July 13 said that  ”it stepped back from that claim over the weekend, saying ‘there are no plans for the zoo to euthanize any animals in the collection as a result of the budget cuts.’”

Or did they?

On July 15, the Boston Herald reported that “The chief of the Boston area’s two major zoos is standing by statements that the facilities would shut down and some animals would have to be euthanized if the Legislature does not restore $4 million in state funding.”

Yesterday, the AP reported that state’s legislature plans to restore $2.5 million of Patrick’s $4 million cut yesterday in a veto override package.

With all the back and forth and the de facto animal death threats, it’s more than a little surprising that this story didn’t have a wider national breakout. But that is indeed the case: A Google News search on “Boston Zoo Patrick” (not in quotes), sorted by date but with no duplicates, returns only 74 results (not the 207 indicated by Google at the top of the related page). Fox News and USA Today appear to be the only outlets outside of New England that covered the story.

The July 10 Globe report by Matt Viser also notes that the FPZ’s two zoo sites receive 570,000 visitors a year, an $11 million operating budget (meaning that taxpayers are funding about 60% of its operations), and a strange penchant for secrecy given its publicly-funded status (bold is mine):

…. a film crew is laying the groundwork to begin filming a comedy, “The Zookeeper,” starring Kevin James and Rosario Dawson, near an unused outdoor gorilla exhibit near the zoo’s rear entrance. Filming is scheduled to run from July 20 through October, and the zoo was paid a substantial location fee that zoo officials would not disclose.

More significant in the long run, a lengthy July 26 report by the Globe’s Keith O’Brien on the status of the nation’s zookeepers’ thought processes (zoo-logic, if you will), has several clues that explain why zoos can’t beef up their receipts from attendees and non-government sources.

It seems that zoo managements are slowly abandoning popular attractions in favor of turning their enterprises into indoctrination camps.

Here are key paragraphs from O’Brien’s four-pager that reveal a bit of that zoo-logic:

Goodbye, Jumbo
The identity crisis of the modern zoo

Ron Kagan’s decision …. (was) shocking. The executive director of the Detroit Zoo announced in 2004 that he was voluntarily sending his zoo’s two Asian elephants to a California sanctuary, where the land was plentiful, the weather temperate, and the elephants could roam. The reason, Kagan said, was simple. To paraphrase: The zoo, despite its best efforts, was essentially ruining the elephants’ lives.

…. Kagan’s choice, which is still reverberating in the zoo industry five years later, marks the latest twist in a long, often clumsy, historical shift – from animals caged for our delight, to a more enlightened conservation message, and finally to the notion that zoos can actually change human behavior by teaching us about the ways we’re damaging the natural world. Now more than ever, zoos are bringing the message of wildlife conservation to the forefront, making it not only part of their marketing plans, but their core missions. Indeed, some zoo directors now say conservation is the only pure reason for keeping animals at all.

…. Even as government funding dries up, attendance at many zoos is steady, and even rising. And with the natural world in increasing peril – poachers killing elephants in Africa, climate change threatening habitats worldwide, and American children increasingly sealed off into safe suburban bubbles – many zoo officials feel that this is their moment, their chance to remind people why wildlife matters, before it is too late.

…. In a recent study conducted by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums titled “Why Zoos & Aquariums Matter,” researchers surveyed more than 5,000 visitors and reported that zoos are indeed helping to shape the way people think about the natural world. Fifty-seven percent said their zoo visits strengthened their connection with nature. Fifty-four percent said zoos and aquariums prompted them to reconsider their role in environmental problems, and 61 percent talked about what they had learned.

But visitors don’t come to zoos “to eat their vitamins,” said Thane Maynard, executive director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. And so, zoos are trying to take on an ever more idealistic mission, while serving up fun by blurring the lines between the worlds of the humans and the animals.

…. Ron Kagan isn’t against conservation; that’s part of the mission, he said. What he’d like to see more of, however, is in-depth discussion about animal welfare, how to best gauge it, and what to do about it if zoos are falling short of meeting animals’ needs. It’s a discussion that may lead to the conclusion that the zoos’ ultimate mission means giving up more of its animals, but Kagan’s all right with that.

I don’t know about you, but it seems that there is an offensive undercurrent of thought in modern zoo-logic that treatment of animals in bygone years was presumptively cruel.

It would be one thing if the zoos were truly private entities making these decisions on their own. And of course attention must be paid to evolving standards relating to what constitutes proper animal care.

But given the fact that so many zoos are now at least partially subsidized by the government, it seems that there is less focus on pleasing customers within proper animal-care constraints and more focus on creating politically correct “teachable moments.” That focus may partially explain why non-government receipts from attendance and donations is mostly flat. Government-funding cutbacks in the form of gradual zero-outs might force zoos to get back to their core mission within more reasonable financial constraints. It should be tried. Meanwhile, zookeepers whose knee-jerk reaction is threaten the destruction of animals in their care if they don’t get their way need to grow up.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Latest Pajamas Media Post (‘The Associated Press Declares War on the Online World’) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up at BizzyBlog on Saturday morning (link won’t work until then) when the blackout expires.


Left on the cutting room floor: One of the reasons AP must be watched is that their reports change over time, and the wire service is getting better at making hard to find original or developing versions. If bloggers and others can’t excerpt on AP reports when they see them, the text they are referring to may very well be gone in mere hours, leaving no proof that the excerpted text was ever there.

I’d be more impressed with AP’s interest in accountability if AP would leave tracks to previous versions of its reports on individual stories. It’s not that hard; bandwidth is cheap. I just don’t believe the interest is there.

An example of how AP reports evolve and devolve is embedded in this May 2008 post, when President Obama announced (on a Saturday) that he was quitting (but not denouncing) Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ. AP reporter Tom Raum thought it necessary to insert verbiage about John McCain’s virtual non-relationships with other preachers — as if that was relevant to a story about Obama terminating a 20-year membership at an objectively racist, separatist mockery of a church.

Lickety-Split Links (073009, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:43 am
  • France moves ahead with “controversial postal reform” — Meanwhile, our postal service, which should be privatized, is on track to lose a record-setting $7 billion, and wants to cut back service.
  • Thanks to Alo at Brain Shavings for e-mailing links to American Thinker’s ongoing series, currently up to four parts, called “What to Ask Your Congressman About Obamacare.” They are: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4. There are apparently more parts to come; they will be linked here. Update: Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7 of 7.
  • James Pethokoukis at his Reuters blog“Why ObamaCare is morphing into RomneyCare.” A 2012 electoral contest between the current alleged GOP front-runner and the current presidential incumbent would in many ways be Romney v. Romney. We have about two years for a candidate who supports sensible conservatism, which is actually a redundant term, to appear.
  • Debra Burlingame in the Wall Street Journal“Revenge of the ‘Shoe Bomber’; The terrorist sues to resume his jihad from prison. The Obama administration caves in.” Money sentence: “Meanwhile, in order to appease political constituencies both here and abroad, the Obama administration is moving full steam ahead, operating on the false premise that giving more civil liberties to (imprisoned) religious fanatics bent on destroying Western civilization will make a difference in the Muslim world.” Oh, it will make a difference, just not the one Obama naively expects. Or does he really understand what is really likely to happen, but okay with it?
  • According to a just-received CNN e-mail, “Exxon Mobil’s second-quarter income tumbles 66% to $3.95 billion, falling short of analysts’ estimates.” Before statists carrying out their own virtual jihad against producers break out the champagne, they should recognize that this probably means that their beloved Uncle Sam will get billions of dollars a year less in corporate income taxes if this continues at Exxon and other oil companies. The disaster in federal corporate income tax collections, and federal tax collections in general, shows no sign of abating, as shown in these individual line items making up the vast majority of all money collected:


Four Years After Kelo Ruling, Now-Barren Area Still Needs ‘Springboard’

Four years ago, on June 23, 2005, a 6-3 Supreme Court majority ruled in Kelo v. New London that the New London, Connecticut government could condemn houses in that city’s Fort Trumbull area in the name of redevelopment. A bit over a year later, the city settled with the area’s final two holdouts, the Cristofaro family and Susette Kelo.

Since then the city has without success tried to engage a developer to build a hotel on part of the now-leveled area, and to put apartments or condos on the rest. Yes, you read that right; they’re building residences where residences used to be.

The idea behind the hotel was that it would serve as lodging for visitors to the anticipated U.S. Coast Guard Museum.

Now, as reported in last Friday’s New London Day, it seems that even the Museum’s ultimate presence in Fort Trumbull is in serious doubt:

Coast Guard museum plan on hold
Shelving of project disappoints city officials still looking for Fort Trumbull springboard

Plans for a Coast Guard museum, which city officials have long hoped would be the impetus for economic development at Fort Trumbull, have been put on hold.

Citing lackluster fundraising figures and a stagnant economy, the National Coast Guard Museum Association and the Coast Guard Foundation voted unanimously Thursday to postpone the $65 million project.

Jerry Ostermiller will step down as president of the Museum Association, a job he has held since January.

”This doesn’t mean we’ve given up on the project, it means we’ll put it on the shelf until the economic climate improves,” said Anne Brengle, foundation president.

Most of the rest of the article consists of city officials and politicians absurdly pretending that the news is no big deal. But a Day editorial punctured that nonsense:

New game plan

It would be hard to come up with more deflating news for the prospects of economic development in Fort Trumbull than the announcement Thursday that the Coast Guard Foundation is suspending its effort to raise funds for the construction of the National Coast Guard Museum.

…. Whether the revival of the museum project is possible when the economy improves is questionable at best. Association leaders say it will be at least a year before they are in a position to try. Many people donated generously to get this far. They will not jump back in easily.

The New London Development Corp. was counting on the museum and construction of an adjacent hotel as the linchpin for Fort Trumbull redevelopment. This newspaper has previously expressed concerns that the NLDC’s plans were too dependent on this one project. NLDC mentions the museum a dozen times in its development plan, to the exclusion of almost anything else.

The city must be open to other development possibilities on the 90-acre tract. Commiserating about the museum serves no purpose. The Fort Trumbull peninsula is prime waterfront land with significant potential when the economy improves.

The “New Game Plan” title of the Day’s editorial is an admission that there is currently “no game plan.”

This situation is especially infuriating because a primary underpinning of the Supreme Court’s decision twisting the 5th Amendment’s “public use” clause and allowing the city’s condemnation and takeover of the area was the judicial majority’s confidence that city elders knew what they were doing, as noted in this paragraph from the ruling itself (bolds are mine):

The city’s determination that the area at issue was sufficiently distressed to justify a program of economic rejuvenation is entitled to deference. The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue. As with other exercises in urban planning and development, the city is trying to coordinate a variety of commercial, residential, and recreational land uses, with the hope that they will form a whole greater than the sum of its parts. To effectuate this plan, the city has invoked a state statute that specifically authorizes the use of eminent domain to promote economic development. Given the plan’s comprehensive character, the thorough deliberation that preceded its adoption, and the limited scope of this Court’s review in such cases, it is appropriate here …. to resolve the challenges of the individual owners, not on a piecemeal basis, but rather in light of the entire plan. Because that plan unquestionably serves a public purpose, the takings challenged here satisfy the Fifth Amendment.

With nothing but barren land and no prospects for improvement four years later, how much more foolish can the Court majority possibly look?

One should also not forget that the high-powered, politically-connected Italian Dramatic Club was outrageously spared from the wrecking ball in a blatant act of city favoritism. As was ruefully stated as this sad process unfolded, “The Italian Dramatic Club can stay, but the Italians have to go.”

Despite all of the attention the original case commanded, the decision’s inactive aftermath has been virtually ignored by the establishment press. The news of the Coast Guard Museum’s suspension is no different. A Google News Search on ["New London" Coast Guard Museum] (typed as indicated between brackets) has four listings, all from Nutmeg State media outlets.

Why is this continued monument to judicial malfeasance and government ineptitude not getting more attention? I would suggest that the known biases present in the establishment media cause that question to answer itself.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.