Patterico's Pontifications

9/22/2007

Israeli Commandos seized North Korean Nuclear Material in Syria before Airstrike

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 7:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Last week, reports circulated that Israel bombed Syria to destroy nuclear materials imported from North Korea.

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Columbia University Invites Iran’s Ahmadinejad; Hitler Unavailable

Filed under: Education,International — DRJ @ 6:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Columbia University has been criticized for inviting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak Monday on campus:

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L.A. Times Distorts Facts of “Jena 6″ Case

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Race — Patterico @ 4:30 pm

The L.A. Times has once again done what it does best on stories with a racial angle. Namely, it sensationalizes the racism issue, and studiously buries facts that would tend to undercut the narrative that blacks are unfairly oppressed.

Earlier today I wrote about the “Jena 6″ incident, which one news account described in this way:

According to court documents, someone hit [victim Justin] Barker from behind, knocking him out, then others began to kick and stomp his “lifeless” body. He spent about three hours in a local emergency room for treatment of injuries to his head and face.

The L.A. Times article on the incident completely fails to note that Mychal Bell, the one defendant who has already been tried and convicted, has an extensive criminal history of violence. Not only does the article fail to tell readers that Bell has a criminal record involving four violent previous incidents, the article makes absolutely no mention of the fact that Bell has any criminal history at all.

This is a story about whether a criminal prosecution of young black males for a violent crime was too harsh. Any responsible story addressing that topic would fully describe the perpetrators’ criminal histories — especially histories of similar behavior. This information is absolutely vital to assessing whether his treatment at the hands of law enforcement was unnecessarily harsh — and by not mentioning his priors, the paper implies to most rational readers that he has no criminal history at all.

The Readers’ Representative can be reached at Readers.Rep@latimes.com.

UPDATE: At least this story mentions in passing that the victim was knocked unconscious. This article, about Democrat presidential contenders’ responses to the issue, doesn’t mention that fact at all — or the fact that six assailants stomped on the victim while he lay unconscious on the floor. The article describes the crime merely as “the beating of a white student.”

This story is even worse. It not only omits those details, but writer Ari Bloomekatz affirmatively asserts that the victim “was not seriously injured and attended a school function the same night.”

Getting knocked unconscious, my good friend Mr. Bloomekatz, qualifies as a serious injury in my book.

UPDATE x2: And how could I forget this editorial?

People of both races have committed violent acts in the year since, but the harshest legal penalties seem to have been reserved for blacks. White youths struck a black student with bottles at a party; only one was charged, with simple battery. The next day, a white man brandished a shotgun at a group of black youths, who wrestled the gun away from him. The gunman wasn’t charged, but the boys were charged with theft for taking his gun. Finally, six black youths beat a white student outside the school gym. Some were initially charged with attempted murder, although the victim was well enough to attend a school ceremony that evening.

No mention of the facts I set forth in this morning’s post: witnesses say the shotgun-branding man was being robbed by the black youths; the black youths who beat the white student also knocked him unconscious and stomped on him while he lay on the ground. This paper is bound and determined not to share facts like this. Again: they don’t fit the narrative.

Happy Holiday!

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 3:49 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

This weekend marks the end of National Clean Hands Week and researchers think some of us are dirty liars:

American adults are liars, at least when it comes to washing their hands. In a recent telephone survey, 91 percent of the subjects claimed they always washed their hands after using public restrooms. But, when researchers observed people leaving public restrooms, only 83 percent actually did so. Only 75 percent of men washed their hands compared to 90 percent of women, the observations revealed.
***
These results were released by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the SDA to highlight National Clean Hands Week, which runs from Sept. 18 through the 24.”

If you’re like me, you want even more information on this subject – like how and where the study was conducted.

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College Makes Us Smart Profane

Filed under: Education — DRJ @ 12:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In more college news, this time from Colorado:

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Reynolds and Balko on the “Jena 6″

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:27 am

Glenn Reynolds usually thinks it’s okay for someone who is violently attacked to defend themselves with a gun. What might get him to change his mind? If his only source for the facts is Radley Balko.

Reynolds has a post on the “Jena 6″ incident. This is the incident in which 6 black teenagers, one with an extensive record of violence, attacked and stomped on a white student, rendering him unconscious. Here’s how one news account described the incident:

According to court documents, someone hit [victim Justin] Barker from behind, knocking him out, then others began to kick and stomp his “lifeless” body. He spent about three hours in a local emergency room for treatment of injuries to his head and face.

The case is getting attention from the usual squad of Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons. Reynolds begins:

Okay, the fact that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are involved doesn’t prove that there’s no actual injustice, but it was enough to make me email Radley Balko — I’ve gotten a lot of email on the case, but most of it seems to assume that I already know what’s going on. Radley’s lengthy reply is below: click “read more” to read it. As always, it’s constructive to ask how people would act if the races were reversed.

I fully agree with that last sentence, and I guarantee you that if six white students beat and stomped a black student into unconsciousness, the Jacksons and Sharptons would be demanding that he be prosecuted to the full extent of the law — and appropriately so. However, this isn’t the message that comes across in the Radley Balko e-mail that Reynolds proceeds to reprint. Instead, Balko’s e-mail contains (to nobody’s surprise) a pro-defense spin on virtually every aspect of the case. (It could be that Radley Balko once fully presented the prosecution side of a criminal case; I just haven’t seen it yet.) Balko presents this account of one of the incidents leading up to the “Jena 6″ incident:

What’s got everyone upset is the racial disparity in the sentences. In one case, a white kid pulled a shotgun on three black kids. The black kids wrestled the gun from him, and took off. The black kids were charged with stealing the gun, the white kid wasn’t charged.

Is there another side to the story? Indeed there is. Does Balko present it? He does not. Here is what Balko (and by extension Reynolds) doesn’t tell you.

According to CNN, the shotgun incident took place at a “convenience store in a predominantly black part of Jena.” The Jena Times says:

The victim, Matt Windham, alleges that three black males attacked and robbed him while the three accused are claiming self-defense.

According to CNN, Windham

would later tell police he felt threatened by three black students. Windham hurried to his pickup truck and returned with his shotgun. Three black students wrestled it away from him.

What really happened? I have no idea. But according to the Jena Times story:

Both the victim and those arrested offered different statements to the police, however, eye witnesses to the event unrelated to the victim or those arrested, gave a report of the incident that corresponded with the victim[‘s].

It could be that the Jena Times is a racially biased paper. It could be that the independent witnesses didn’t say what the paper claims they say — or, if they do, it could be that they are lying are wrong. Let me be perfectly clear: I have absolutely no idea what really happened.

But I know there’s another side to the story — and I know it wasn’t presented by Radley Balko.

P.S. Reynolds also reprints this portion of the Balko e-mail:

The prosecutor initially charged the six black kids with attempted murder. After some public backlash, he dropped them to felony assault with a deadly weapon (the weapons, as it turned out, were the students’ shoes). As I understand it, none of the six had prior records. The first to be tried–Mychal Bell– had his charges dropped to felony aggravated battery, but still received a 15-year sentence. An appellate judge just tossed that sentence out, ruling he shouldn’t have been tried as an adult. The rest have yet to be tried.

This quote remains as is, despite the fact that, as we will soon see, Mychal Bell has quite a history for violence. Now, Reynolds doesn’t hide that fact, but he doesn’t make it as clear as I think he should. Here’s how Reynolds presents the information on Bell’s record — and note how many clicks it takes for the reader to get the full facts.

Near the head of his post, Reynolds posts an update alerting readers that there is an “update and a minor correction at Radley’s blog.” No further details are presented. If you follow the link to Balko’s blog, you’ll see this:

I was wrong on one point. I said that all of the Jena 6 had no prior record. Mychal Bell does in fact have prior convictions. All were as a juvenile, but his record had been sealed until a bond hearing last month.

That does sound potentially minor — until you click through to the link and see the full extent of Bell’s violent priors:

In addition to Mychal Bell’s recent felony conviction, his criminal history was revealed Friday to contain four other violent crimes.

. . . .

Three months prior to [the “Jena 6″] attack, Bell committed two violent crimes while on probation for a battery Christmas Day 2005, according to testimony. . . . Bell was adjudicated — the juvenile equivalent to a conviction — of battery Sept. 2 and criminal damage to property Sept. 3, said Cynthia Bradford, LaSalle Parish deputy clerk.

As a prosecutor, I can tell you that the most important factors in the treatment of any criminal defendant are (1) the seriousness of the current offense, and (2) the nature of the defendant’s prior criminal history — with a special focus on similar actions.

It is not a “minor” detail that a person charged with a violent crime has a criminal history, including four previous violent crimes.

Nor should a reader have to click through two other sites to get the essence of that information.

UPDATE: It is classy of Reynolds to link this post even though it is mildly critical of a previous post of his. This, by the way, is fairly characteristic of him; even if I think he is, at times, somewhat reflexively anti law-enforcement, he gives voice to the other side — and I respect that.

By the way, the L.A. Times has been systematically distorting the facts of this case. More on that here.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part 2

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:18 am

Vernazza from a viewpoint on a hike:

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