Daily News Reports Steep Decline in Circulation

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The shocking double-digit declines come weeks after the money-losing News ousted Editor-in-Chief Jim Rich after just one year on the job.

Keith J. Kelly reports: The Daily News is a four-time loser, recently released circulation stats show.

The embattled newspaper reported sharply lower sales on weekdays and Sundays and on newsstand sales and home deliveries, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

While the entire newspaper industry has been hammered by print circulation declines in recent years, the drop-off by Mort Zuckerman’s Daily News in September was much steeper than the declines at The Post and the New York Times.

The News saw its weekday print circulation tumble 11.2 percent, to 207,680, almost double the 6.8 drop at The Post, which fell to 230,634. The Times reported a decline of 5.5 percent, to 551,579. Read the rest of this entry »


WAR ON COPS: Police Searching for Suspects After Cop Shot and Killed in Chicago Suburb 

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Officer died at scene, found without his gun, equipment

AWR Hawkins reportsAccording to CBS Chicago, “Lake County Sheriff’s Det. Chris Covelli said, around 7:50 a.m., the officer radioed he was pursuing three suspects, after looking into their ‘suspicious activity.’ Police lost radio contact with the officer, who was later found with a gunshot wound.”

Police indicate that the trio consists of two white males and one black male. CBS Chicago points to “unconfirmed reports” that the trio may have taken the fallen “officer’s gun and pepper spray.”

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The manhunt appears to be centered “on a marshy area off Rainier Way and Rollins Road.” Read the rest of this entry »


Hillary Finally Hands Over ‘Her’ Server—After it’s Been Professionally Wiped Clean

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The Countless Crimes of Hillary Clinton: Special Prosecutor Needed Now 

Sidney Powell writes: After years of holding herself above the law, telling lie after lie, and months of flat-out obstruction, HIllary Clinton has finally produced to the FBI her server and three thumb drives. Apparently, the server has been professionally wiped clean of any useable information, and the thumb drives contain only what she selectively culled. Myriad criminal offenses apply to this conduct.

Anyone with knowledge of government workings has known from inception that Hillary’s communications necessarily would contain classified and national security related information. Thanks to the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community, it is now beyond dispute that she had ultra-Top Secret information and more that should never have left the State Department.

Equal to Ms. Clinton’s outrageous misconduct is that of the entire federal law enforcement community. It has long chosen to be deliberately blind to these flagrant infractions of laws designed to protect national security—laws for which other people, even reporters, have endured atrocious investigations, prosecutions, and some served years in prison for comparatively minor infractions.

During the same years that Hillary was communicating about national security and world affairs off the grid, the Department of Justice has had no qualms threatening news reporters and prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act.

It’s high time for a special prosecutor to be named to conduct a full investigation into Ms. Clinton’s likely commission of multiple felonies, including a conspiracy with Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and possibly others, to violate multiple laws.

[Read the full text here, at the Observer]

While the FBI and Department of Justice have willfully ignored Hillary Clinton’s outrageous conduct, they didn’t hesitate a minute to investigate and prosecute former CIA Director and national hero, General Petraeus. He was just tarred, feathered and ridden out of the CIA on a rail for sharing some information (his own notebook) with his biographer who was both in the military and had a top secret clearance. Yet, Petraeus did not have a secret server set up to house his classified and top secret information or digital satellite imagery; he destroyed nothing; and, there was no “leak.” But that’s not all.

During the same years that Hillary was communicating about national security and world affairs off the grid, the Department of Justice has had no qualms threatening news reporters and prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act. To hell with the First Amendment and Supreme Court precedent, even the New York Times reported that this administration prosecuted more reporters and whistleblowers for “espionage” than all prior administrations put together.

Remember Fox news reporter James Rosen? The Holder Justice Department not only seized his emails immediately and without his knowledge, they suggested he was a criminal “co-conspirator” in a leak case—under the Espionage Act—which carries a ten-year term of imprisonment. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Chicago Imposes 9% ‘Anime Tax’, Begins Enforcement of Anime Control Act

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[Also see – Chicago to Apply 9% ‘Amusement Tax’ for ‘the Privilege of Chewing Gum’]

[More  – Chicago to Apply 9% ‘Netflix Tax’]

 


What Did Heckling Ever Do For Comedy?

Your Show of Shows

Does heckling let the real comedian stand up and shine, or does it trample a punchline and mangle a routine?

Lary Wallace writes: Probably the closest thing you can compare it to is the fighting in ice hockey. Think about it: an activity somehow both integral and non-essential that many in the audience consider more entertaining than those parts of the performance that require actual talent. But here’s the difference between fighting in hockey and heckling in stand-up comedy, and it’s an essential one: the former is all about the players, while the latter is all about the fans trying to be the players.

LouisCK

That’s why it drives comedians nuts when it’s asserted – as it was at length in the Chicago Tribune a couple of years ago – that heckling is often not only the best part of stand-up but often, indeed, the only memorable part of stand-up. Chris Borrelli – who, with another writer at the paper, Nina Metz, engaged in a forum-type discussion on the subject – went so far as to write: ‘I have seen countless comedians and theatre performances and live events in general, and forgotten most of them. But I remember each and every time I have witnessed a performer get into it with an obnoxious audience.’

[Read the full story here, at Aeon]

The article got noticed in the comedy community, where it was regarded with contempt. The US stand-up Patton Oswalt wrote a post on his personal blog expressing ‘disgust’ with the two writers, characterising the piece as ‘an asinine, pro-heckling space-filler (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for New York Comedy Festival)article’, before specifying: ‘hecklers don’t make a show memorable. They prevent a show from being a fucking show. Comedians do not love hecklers. They love doing the original material they wrote and connecting with an entire audience, not verbally sparring with one cretin while the rest of the audience whoops and screams, disconnecting from the comedian….’

An even more elaborate rebuttal to the article was provided by the comedian and journalist Steve Heisler, who wrote: ‘Hecklers make comedy memorable in the same way vacations are made memorable when you get mugged on them. You’re forced to make lemonade out of lemons. But make no mistake: there are fucking lemons.

‘This is a vibrant… art form,’ he continued, ‘that benefits from a deep understanding of what it takes to craft a set. What it takes to hone a joke. What it takes to devote your life to a career that is 99.99 per cent rejection, and STILL keep going….’

All of which is capable of making you feel pretty guilty if, like me, you’re a fan of stand-up who’s sometimes entertained by what happens when somebody heckles.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani laughs as he speaks during an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society in New York, September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Keith Bedford (

It’s not like this whole idea of heckling-is-good-for-comedy is some imaginary construct of journalists and other outsiders. It has very earnest proponents among stand-ups themselves. Billy Crystal – the furthest thing imaginable from a comedy outsider – made and starred in a movie, Mr. Saturday Night(1992), in which the fictional comedian Buddy Young Jr finds his voice as a comic precisely because of a heckler. He’s a young kid, up there on the big stage doing his shticky routine, and bombing terribly. A guy starts coming at him from the crowd with insults, and the insults Buddy volleys back are what bolster his material and his confidence, and put the crowd on his side. A career is born.

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It’s not just in the movies, either. The comedian Franklyn Ajaye has written a terrific book called Comic Insights: The Art of Stand-Up Comedy (2002), in which the following words appear: ‘Sometimes a heckler can be good for your show, particularly if you’re at a point where you don’t have any new material and you’re a little bored with your act. Dealing with a heckler can be a chance for you to play around and see how your mind handles fresh stimuli.’

It’s worth emphasising that what Ajaye says here isn’t that heckling is good for comedians because it helps them prepare for dealing with other hecklers; what he says is that heckling is good for comedians because it helps improve their actual comedy.

President Obama Laughs with Aides on Air Force One

The Canadian-born comedian Harland Williams, who is interviewed in the documentary Heckler (2007), says: ‘I just like the challenge of a heckler. I like it when people yell out, because basically they’re just shooting a bullet at you – it’s like a verbal bullet. You’re in the middle of something, and all of a sudden – pshoo-oooww – and you can either, like, do a Matrix [leaning away from and underneath the bullet], or you can catch it [catching the bullet with one hand] and go: “Let’s go buddy – it’s party time!”’

Who's laughing now?

And we shouldn’t ignore the undeniable fact that comedians have been known to sometimes hire hecklers, planting them in the audience because of the frisson of danger they can give a show. Granted, these plants are working from scripted material, entirely on the comedian’s own terms, often written by the comedian himself. Two examples from Richard Zoglin’s biography Hope: Entertainer of the Century (2014) illustrate perfectly what I mean. Read the rest of this entry »


Off-Duty Oak Park Police Officer Shot On Chicago’s Far South Side

chicago-shooting

An off-duty Oak Park police officer was shot Sunday morning on Chicago’s Far South Side.

The shooting happened in the 300 block of West 103rd Place at 5:13 a.m., police said.

The 57-year-old officer was exiting his personal vehicle when he was approached by two males, one of which fired numerous shots at the officer, striking him in the arm and leg, police said. The officer was able to return fire, and made contact with one of the suspects….(read more)

CBS Chicago


FOOD STAMP BANDIT! Prosecutors: Illinois Man Stole $1 Million via Food-Assistance Cards

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BURBANK — Prosecutors say a southwest suburban Chicago man used more than 3,000 Link cards to steal almost $1 million in government funds by purchasing energy drinks and candy and then reselling them.

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The Chicago Tribune reported that 46-year-old Wael Ghosheh has been charged with theft of government property, identity theft, money laundering and unauthorized use of food stamp benefits, and wire fraud.

He’s being held in Cook County Jail after appearances Wednesday and Thursday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

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Officials say Ghosheh used multiple Link cards, which provide federal funding to low-income individuals for nutrition assistance, to make large-volume purchases at a store, which alerted law enforcement. Read the rest of this entry »


World’s Hottest Pepper Saves Man’s Life

Jolokia

Randy Schmitz Survives: ‘The Tumor Would Not Have Been Discovered had it not been for the Hot Sauce’

MYRTLE BEACH (WITI) —  reports: A man claims hot sauce saved his life!

Randy Schmitz of Orland Park, Illinois has always loved hot sauce. So when he was vacationing in Myrtle Beach last summer, he decided to stop at a hot sauce store and take their challenge.

Flashbang

Contestants had to dip a toothpick in the hot sauce and put it on their tongues. One of the hot sauces in this hot sauce challenge is so incredibly hot, people are required to sign waivers before sampling it.

“The next thing I knew, I had woken up on a stretcher in a hospital room — covered in vomit.”

It’s called “Flashbang” and combines Carolina Reaper, scorpion, and habanero peppersaccording to the Huffington Post. The Carolina Reaper was crowed the world’s hottest pepper a few years ago.

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“Schmitz was rushed to an emergency room for an MRI scan of his brain. That’s when they discovered a cancerous brain tumor in its early stages.”

“I made it the five minutes. My sister then said she wanted to take the challenge, but I said, ‘you might want to hold off. I’m feeling really sick,’” Schmitz told ABC News.

The sauce caused Schmitz to suffer a seizure.

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“Within a few days, he had the tumor removed and the treatment was complete. The tumor would not have been discovered had it not been for the hot sauce.”

“The next thing I knew, I had woken up on a stretcher in a hospital room — covered in vomit,” he said in the letter he sent to the Pepper Palace, the business that hosted the challenge. Read the rest of this entry »


Fashion Catastrophe: Zara Reconsiders, Pulls Kiddie Concentration Camp Uniform

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The Chicago Tribune reports: Global fashion chain Zara pulled from sale on Wednesday a striped children’s top decorated with a large six-pointed star after it was likened to uniforms worn by Jewish concentration camp inmates during the reign of Nazi Germany.

The shirt, bearing horizontal blue and white stripes, was on sale online in three European countries but not in Israel, a spokeswoman
said. The resemblance was unintentional and the design had been inspired by sheriff’s stars from classic Western films, she said.

Zara-PR-disaster

Within hours of the t-shirt being put up for sale, some newspapers had picked up on its resemblance to concentration camp uniforms and messages were posted on Twitter criticizing the design.

“The shirt bears a large six-pointed star on the upper-left section, in the exact place where Nazis forced Jews to wear the Star of David,” wrote Israeli newspaper Haaretz, calling the garment “hauntingly reminiscent of a darker era”.

On its website, Haaretz displayed a photograph of part of a uniform worn by prisoners at Auschwitz, showing a jacket with vertical green and white stripes and a yellow star below the left shoulder bearing the word “Jude”, the German word for Jew. Read the rest of this entry »


As Obama’s Power Fades, Americans Should Celebrate Hobbled Government

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However limited the president’s power and influence in Washington, they’re about to shrink. And that’s a good thing.

For ReasonSteve Chapman writes: About now, Barack Obama may be wondering why he thought it would be such funObama-troubled to serve a second term rather than go lounge on a beach in Hawaii. Life in the White House has become a daily ordeal of pain and frustration. Nothing is going well.

“Presidents don’t scale back their ambitions because they want to; they do it because they have to.”

On the foreign front, he has to contend with an aggressive Vladimir Putin, an unsuccessful war in Afghanistan and his failure to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Domestically, he has to endure a Department of Veterans Affairs scandal, an underperforming economy, a health care overhaul whose ultimate success is in doubt, House hearings on Benghazi, and an inability to get Congress to do anything he wants.

“Obama is stymied on Capitol Hill because he lacks the political power or popular standing to get his way.”

In the international arena, as a news story in The Chicago Tribune recently noted, the president has been compelled to adopt a “measured, even incremental, approach to most foreign crises and challenges, from Iran’s nuclear program to Syria’s grinding war.” Instead of trying to do great things, he’s settled for a policy that his aides summarize as “Don’t do stupid stuff”—though they use a different word than “stuff.” Read the rest of this entry »


Ex-state Rep. Keith Farnham faces child porn charges

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For the Chicago TribuneJason Meisner writes: Former Illinois State Rep. Keith Farnham was charged Monday with using both personal and state-owned computers to trade hundreds of images and videos depicting child pornography and engage in graphic online chats in which he allegedly bragged about sexually molesting a 6-year-old girl.

illinois-tallThe federal criminal complaint alleged that Farnham, 66, a Democrat from Elgin, possessed two videos depicting child pornography on a computer that was seized from his state office in Elgin a week before his abrupt resignation in March. Authorities also linked a Yahoo! email account used by Farnham to a online trading forum in which he chatted with other users about his sexual preferences, according to the charges.

“12 is about as old as i can handle,” Farnham allegedly said in one online chat in November, according to the charges. “i love them at 6 7 8”

Farnham – who twice co-sponsored bills in the House that toughened penalties for child pornography — is scheduled to make his initial appearance at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on Wednesday.

 

When he resigned his seat on March 19, Farnham told the Tribune he was stepping down due to serious health concerns. A Navy veteran who ran a painting business in Elgin before running for office in 2009, Farnham said he is receiving treatment for bladder cancer and also struggles with pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that causes lung tissue to scar.

Farnham did not return calls for comment Monday. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Read the rest of this entry »


Film Legend Harold Ramis dead at 69

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The Chicago Tribunes Mark Caro writes:

Ramis’ serious health struggles began in May 2010 with an infection that led to complications related to the autoimmune disease, his wife said. Ramis had to relearn to walk but suffered a relapse of the vaculitis in late 2011, said Laurel Ward, vice president of development at Ramis’ Ocean Pictures production company.

Ramis leaves behind a formidable body of work, with writing credits on such enduring comedies as “National Lampoon’s Animal House” (which upon its 1978 release catapulted the film career of John Belushi, with whom Ramis acted at Second City), “Stripes” (1981) and “Ghostbusters” (in which Ramis also co-starred) plus such directing efforts as”Caddyshack” (1980), “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), “Groundhog Day” and “Analyze This.”

Previously he was the first head writer (and a performer) on Second City’s groundbreaking television series “Second City Television (SCTV)” (1976-79). More recently he directed episodes of NBC’s “The Office.”

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NPR has highlights of the Tribune story, plus a link to a Ramis interview with Terry Gross::

His wife, Erica Mann Ramis, tells the Chicago Tribune that her husband, who lived in Chicago, “was surrounded by family when he died at 12:53 a.m. [Monday] from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels.”

The Associated Press also confirmed the news with Ramis’ attorney, Fred Toczek.

As the Tribune says:

“Ramis leaves behind a formidable body of work, with writing credits on such enduring comedies as National Lampoon’s Animal House (which upon its 1978 release catapulted the film career of John Belushi, with whom Ramis acted at Second City), Stripes (1981) and Ghostbusters (in which Ramis also co-starred) plus such directing efforts as Caddyshack(1980), National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Groundhog Day andAnalyze This….

“Ramis’ comedies were often wild, silly and tilting toward anarchy, but they also were cerebral and iconoclastic, with the filmmaker heeding the Second City edict to work at the top of one’s intelligence.”

He influenced may younger actors and directors, the Tribune adds, including Judd Apatow, Jay Roach and Adam Sandler.

In 2005, Ramis talked with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross about his work. Of Caddyshack, he said, “I had this notion of [it] being like a Marx Brothers movie and Rodney [Dangerfield] was the Groucho of the team.”

TribuneRamis’ comedies were often wild, silly and tilting toward anarchy, but they also were cerebral and iconoclastic, with the filmmaker heeding the Second City edict to work at the top of one’s intelligence.

Read the rest of this entry »


9 Violent Criminals Who Paid Less for Bail Than Filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza

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Jason Howerton writes:  On Friday, conservative scholar Dinesh D’Souza pleaded not guilty to charges that he violated campaign finance laws. The filmmaker behind the anti-Obama documentary “2016: Obama’s America” was released on $500,000 bond, which some — even in the legal community — argue was excessive.

We looked into these claims and uncovered a number of violent and disturbing offenses that resulted in bail amounts less than D’Souza was required to put up. While it’s not a comprehensive list by any means, here are nine cases where violent suspects had to put up less for bail than D’Souza:

A former convict accused of robbing 4 people and raping one of them

In 2007, a Chicago judge set bail for former convict Darnell Richmond at $400,000 on charges that he robbed or attempted to rob four people, raping one of them, just three months after he was released from prison, the Chicago Tribune reports.

That was after Richmond’s bail was increased from $150,000, when he was accused of only two counts of attempted robbery. He was later indicted for additional attempted robbery charges and sexual assault.

A man accused of trying to kill a police officer

Bail for a man in Puna, Hawaii, accused of trying to murder a police officer wasreset to $400,000 in December 2013 after several missing affidavits relating to the case were found.

Read the rest of this entry »


Linda Taylor, welfare queen: Ronald Reagan made her a notorious American villain. Linda Taylor’s other sins were far worse.

Photo of Linda Taylor by Corbis

Photo of Linda Taylor by Corbis

 writes:  Ronald Reagan loved to tell stories. When he ran for president in 1976, many of Reagan’s anecdotes converged on a single point: The welfare state is broken, and I’m the man to fix it. On the trail, the Republican candidate told a tale about a fancy public housing complex with a gym and a swimming pool. There was also someone in California, he’d explain incredulously, who supported herself with food stamps while learning the art of witchcraft. And in stump speech after stump speech, Reagan regaled his supporters with the story of an Illinois woman whose feats of deception were too amazing to be believed.

“In Chicago, they found a woman who holds the record,” the former California governor declared at a campaign rally in January 1976. “She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year.” As soon as he quoted that dollar amount, the crowd gasped.

Four decades later, Reagan’s soliloquies on welfare fraud are often remembered as shameless demagoguery. Many accounts report that Reagan coined the term “welfare queen,” and that this woman in Chicago was a fictional character. In 2007,the New York Times’ Paul Krugman wrote that “the bogus story of the Cadillac-driving welfare queen [was] a gross exaggeration of a minor case of welfare fraud.” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews says the whole thing is racist malarkey—a coded reference to black indolence and criminality designed to appeal to working-class whites.

Though Reagan was known to stretch the truth, he did not invent that woman in Chicago. Her name was Linda Taylor, and it was the Chicago Tribune, not the GOP politician, who dubbed her the “welfare queen.” It was the Tribune, too, that lavished attention on Taylor’s jewelry, furs, and Cadillac—all of which were real.

As of 1976, Taylor had yet to be convicted of anything. She was facing charges that she’d bilked the government out of $8,000 using four aliases. When the welfare queen stood trial the next year, reporters packed the courtroom. Rather than try to win sympathy, Taylor seemed to enjoy playing the scofflaw. As witnesses described her brazen pilfering from public coffers, she remained impassive, an unrepentant defendant bedecked in expensive clothes and oversize hats.

Linda Taylor, the haughty thief who drove her Cadillac to the public aid office, was the embodiment of a pernicious stereotype. With her story, Reagan marked millions of America’s poorest people as potential scoundrels and fostered the belief that welfare fraud was a nationwide epidemic that needed to be stamped out. This image of grand and rampant welfare fraud allowed Reagan to sell voters on his cuts to public assistance spending. The “welfare queen” became a convenient villain, a woman everyone could hate. She was a lazy black con artist, unashamed of cadging the money that honest folks worked so hard to earn.

Ronald Reagan addressing a senior citizens group, New Hampshire, 1976.
Ronald Reagan addressing a senior citizens group, New Hampshire, 1976.
Photo by Constantine Manos/Magnum Photos

After her welfare fraud trial in 1977, Taylor went to prison, and the newspapers moved on to covering the next outlandish villain. When her sentence was up, she changed her name and left Chicago, and the cops who had pursued her in Illinois lost track of her whereabouts. None of the police officers I talked to knew whether she was still alive.

When I set out in search of Linda Taylor, I hoped to find the real story of the woman who played such an outsize role in American politics—who she was, where she came from, and what her life was like before and after she became the national symbol of unearned prosperity. What I found was a woman who destroyed lives, someone far more depraved than even Ronald Reagan could have imagined. In the 1970s alone, Taylor was investigated for homicide, kidnapping, and baby trafficking. The detective who tried desperately to put her away believes she’s responsible for one of Chicago’s most legendary crimes, one that remains unsolved to this day. Welfare fraud was likely the least of the welfare queen’s offenses.

Read the rest of this entry »


Early Skirmishes in a Race War

Time to be honest about racial violence

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Thomas Sowell writes:  One of the reasons for being glad to be as old as I am is that I may be spared living to see a race war in America. Race wars are often wars in which nobody wins and everybody ends up much worse off than they were before.

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Initial skirmishes in that race war have already begun, and have in fact been going on for some years. But public officials pretend that it is not happening, and the mainstream media seldom publish it at all, except in ways that conceal what is really taking place.For

sowell_squareAmerican society, a dangerous polarization has set in. Signs of this polarization over the years include opposite reactions between blacks and whites to the verdict in the O. J. Simpson murder case, the “rape” charges against Duke University students, and the trials resulting from the beating of Rodney King and the death of Trayvon Martin.

More dangerous than these highly publicized episodes over the years are innumerable organized and unprovoked physical attacks on whites by young black gangs in shopping malls, on beaches, and in other public places all across the country today.

Read the rest of this entry »


Cross-pollination accelerates: News media’s revolving door to Obama White House blurs objectivity as more journalists cross over

Example: White House press secretary Jay Carney is one of several ex-journalists who now work for the Obama administration. (Associated Press)

Example: White House press secretary Jay Carney is one of several ex-journalists who now work for the Obama administration. (Associated Press)

Jennifer Harper reports: News media and politics in the age of Obama have grown uncomfortably close. So many journalists have found employment in the Obama administration that the phenomenon has become a story itself, with a dozen news organizations tracking the cross-pollination between the two and speculating on the implications. The current count of press turncoats varies from a low of 15 reported by The Daily Beast to a high of 24 as reported by The Atlantic.

“I’m often surprised when I hear about colleagues leaving journalism for government or government relations. I can’t imagine doing anything else, although I understand how the news business can turn sour for some people,” said veteran newsman Mark KnollerWhite House correspondent for CBS News.

“My experience in dealing with former journalists now serving as government spokespersons or officials is mixed. Some of them understand the information I’m seeking and why — and are most helpful,” he said. “But some others strike me as having turned to the dark side and seem more interested in denying information than providing it.” Read the rest of this entry »


Chicago high school student facing charges after hot sauce prank

A Chicago high school is facing charges after reportedly spiking a container of marinara sauce with fiery hot sauce, sending three people to the hospital, police said.

The 17-year-old Highland Park High School student is being charged as a juvenile on five counts of misdemeanor battery in the May 14 prank. Three cafeteria workers were treated by the school’s nurse before being treated at a local hospital for coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and skin rashes, school district spokeswoman Natalie Kaplan told the Chicago Tribune.

Highland Park Police Deputy Chief George Pfutzenreuter said the employees did not have to ingest the hot sauce to develop symptoms because it wasn’t ordinary hot sauce.

“I don’t think you can find this one in the store,” he said of the Da Bomb hot sauce brand. “It sounds like this kid had to get it someplace special.”

Two students also reported symptoms but did not require a trip to the hospital, Kaplan told the newspaper.

District officials recently purchased a security surveillance system and were in the process of choosing locations for the cameras, Kaplan said.

“We decided, based upon that incident, that we’ll go ahead and install cameras in the cafeteria where the incident occurred,” she said.

The student, who is expected to appear in juvenile court this week, was identified by the school and disciplined, but Kaplan declined to elaborate, citing privacy concerns.

Buy this kid a cigar. Well played, sir! — The Butcher

via Fox News


The news media is even worse than you think

5 corrupting influences are keeping the public from the facts

By Brett Arends

It’s become a cliché these days to say you don’t trust the media. But you know what? You’re right not to do so.

The problems aren’t as bad as they appear. They are much, much worse.

And, as usual, almost everyone is focused on exactly the wrong things.

The problem isn’t that the occasional journalist makes a mistake on deadline. We’re human, folks. The problem isn’t big business, or corporate control. It isn’t even the Koch brothers. If you’re a liberal, you should probably want them to blow $600 million on a loss-making newspaper company.

Here are the real problems. And I don’t see any solutions.

1. Speed

Once upon a time, newspaper companies put out one newspaper per day. Even reporters on deadline had until 6 p.m. or even later to investigate, report, write and check their stories before filing.

Those working on features could spend weeks or even months on them. Mistakes still happened, of course, because people are human. But at least there was time for thought. Today? Nah. We want it now. We want the news as fast as Twitter, or faster — oh, but with lots of checking too. That’s why CNN misreported an arrest in the Boston bombings when none had actually occurred. That was one reason why Kurtz blundered in a blog post about gay basketball player Jason Collins: As Kurtz later admitted, he simply hadn’t read the original Collins interview closely enough.

Personally, I think the kerfuffle over these errors was massively overdone. People make mistakes. (My sympathies are usually with the journalist in these circumstances, although Kurtz is to some extent hoist with his own petard.) But there’s a more important point here – one that affects the public, and not just the media crowd.

With reporters increasingly running around like headless chickens, perpetually tweeting, blogging, doing videos and writing stories, this is going to happen more and more. It’s inevitable. You, the public, are going to end up being served a diet of rubbish.

Too much media is going to turn out like too many calories. I suspect we are going to find out that a healthy news diet consists of one professionally produced newspaper a day, read during breakfast. But the high-speed electronic media is putting those papers out of business.

2. Money

I’m talking about the lack thereof.


Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.com

A media outlet recently advertised a job for “an experienced writer” with a “solid” record of publishing articles in outlets such as the New York Times, National Geographic and so on. Salary? The job was unpaid. The posting was reported by Jim Romenesko, the media writer. It was not an isolated incident. A major non-profit media outlet known to me is looking for columns from top-quality writers. The pay? Fifty bucks an item. Good luck with that. A liberal media doyenne praised President Obama for demanding an increase of the minimum wage, but doesn’t pay her bloggers anything at all. The Atlantic magazine recently came under fire for asking a freelancer to write something for free. The writer, instead, published the email exchange. The Atlantic’s readers were up in arms against the magazine, but they missed the point. If those readers won’t pay the magazine for the news, how do they expect the magazine to pay the writers? As we used to say in third grade: Like, duh.

Readers don’t work for free, but for some reason they think reporters should.

This collapse of the economics of reporting is deeply corrupting, in ways that people are only just beginning to realize. For example, it leads inevitably to superficial reporting. If it takes three times as long to write a critical, investigative article as it does to write a piece of pap, and if reporters end up being paid per article, then writers of serious journalism will only earn a third as much as the writers of pap. Pure math.

The lack of money also leads to dangerous stampedes and obsessions. Everyone jumps on the big “trending” (yuck) story. Something that’s not hot or sexy just won’t get written. Sure, maybe it’s important. But we need the page views, you see. Sorry.

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