Saturday, September 23, 2006

Blame Bush?

Headlines in today’s Raleigh News & Observer :

Gas-price wars break out

Competition sent pump prices at some stations in Greenville below $2. Could it happen here?

Duke lacrosse: Gaynor with the news and the N&O catches Nifong

Late Friday afternoon attorney and columnist Michael Gaynor reported in a comment here that Judge W. Osmond Smith III, now presiding in the Duke lacrosse case, had just modified a gag order placed on attorneys and potential witnesses. Gaynor wrote:

Judge Osmond Smith modified Judge Kenneth Titus's gag order, ungagging potential witnesses (including the Duke Three) to speak to the media about the Duke case.

Cause for celebration for the Duke case defense, "60 Minutes," the people of Durham County, North Carolina and free speech supporters. Calamity for Mr. Nifong and his dwindling supporters. …
Since no media were reporting a gag order modification, JinC readers reasonably asked for confirmation.

I contacted Gaynor. He got back quickly and said he was standing by his statement which was based on information he’d gotten from two sources he respected.

This morning the AP’s, NY Times’ and other news organizations’ accounts of yesterday’s court hearing make no mention of a gag order modification.

But in both my hard copy of today's Raleigh News & Observer and it’s online report we read at the end of its report on Friday's court hearing:
The judge also ordered the lawyers to abide by the rules of professional conduct that govern lawyers in North Carolina. The order replaces one issued by a previous judge that applied the rules -- and specifically the ones regarding statements to the news media -- to witnesses in the case.

Judge Smith said he would make no judgments on the previous statements by lawyers in the case, but now that he was assigned, the lawyers should remember that cases are tried in court.
Congratulations, Michael Gaynor.

And a hat tip to the N&O for getting the news out there.

I know some of you will say: “Hat tip? It’s their job.” That’s true but so much of media is doing so lousy a job reporting the case, why not a “hat tip” when the N&O does something right, especially when all the other news organization accounts I found failed to mention the modification?

The modification has some very important implications as Gaynor points out.

On another matter –

If you’re still struggling to convince yourself that you can put at least a little confidence in anything Mike Nifong says, read no further.

For the rest of you, if you'll go to the N&O’s online account of the hearing, you’ll see a sidebar below a picture of Collin Finnerty’s father. Scroll down a few items and you come to one titled:

When one of the defense lawyers said that Nifong gave 50 to 70 interviews about the case, Nifong said he wanted to set the record straight. He checked his schedule and it showed that he actually gave more like 15 to 20 interviews. He said he had many conversations with reporters, some just to say that he would not comment on the case.

But the number 50 came from Nifong himself.

In a March 31 interview with a News & Observer reporter, Nifong was asked "How many interviews do you think you've given?"

"In excess of 50," Nifong said.
Nice catch, N&O.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Churchill Series – Sept. 22, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

We are ending today a “Walk in Churchill’s Steps” series we began Monday.

Today we are walking up Whitehall from Downing Street toward the New Palace of Westminster, the official name for what is really a group of buildings most often called simply “Parliament.” An easy few minutes walk takes us to the grass covered Parliament Square.

We’ll stand on the sidewalk at the Southwest corner of the Square. Churchill stood there often waiting for the light to change before he crossed the street.

As we look across the street what we see is little changed from Churchill’s time. The part of Parliament closest to us is Westminster Hall, completed in 1097. Sir Thomas More’s trial was held there. In his later years Churchill knew that plans for his funeral called for him to lie in state there.

Turn to you’re right and look at Westminster Abbey. On June 18, 1886 Churchill, then 11, stood close by the Abbey to watch Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee procession.

St. Margaret’s Church is also in your view. If a visitor in the 1930’s had stopped to ask Churchill, “What’s that small church beside the Abbey?” Churchill could have told him a lot about the church. It’s the parish church of Parliament and he and Clementine were married there in September, 1908.

Churchill might have asked the visitor where he was from. If the visitor had said, “North Carolina,” Churchill would likely have told him Sir Walter Raleigh is buried beneath St. Margaret’s alter.

We’ll now end our “walk” at this corner. When you arrived you noticed a Churchill statue right behind us (photo here). It’s sparked some controversy. There are those who say it shows an old, brooding Churchill.

I like the statue very much. To me Churchill looks resolute, defiant and purposeful just as he was when he led the fight for Britain and civilization.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about the statue and our series of “walks.”

Duke lacrosse: Gaynor gets Nifong

There’s not much about DA Mike Nifong that attorney and columnist Michael Gaynor hasn’t exposed and analyzed.

Here’s the start of Gaynor’s most recent column:

When it comes to poisoning the Durham County, North Carolina jury pool, District Attorney Michael B. Nifong knows what to do and he does not want anyone trying to undo his work after he is through.
That gets it, doesn’t it?

Gaynor includes in his column a good part of the "Background Facts" portion of the motion by defense attorneys for modification of Judge Tutus’ gag order. In making their case the attorneys include a series of examples, one after another, of Nifong’s prejudicial and frequently false public statements.

You’ve probably read most, if not all of them. Still, you may find it shocking to read them in series. I did. I've a heightened sense of just how false and reckless Nifong has been.

There’s a lot more to Michael’s column. He’s always an interesting read, and especially so in this column.

Question to Michael: What are you hearing about the 60 Minutes delay until 10/1? You were one of the first to let me know of the original scheduling.

When the Raleigh News & Observer falls down

You may recall that late one night this past January, there was an unconfirmed report all the miners trapped in the Sago Mine had been found alive. Tragically, the unconfirmed report turned out to be false. All but one of the miners were found dead.

Some newspapers were careful to let their readers know the report was unconfirmed. They ran qualifying headlines.

Other newspapers ignored the lack of confirmation and ran headline stories saying without qualification the men had been found alive. The Raleigh News & Observer was one of those newspapers.

The N&O exec editor for news, Melanie Sill, refused to accept any responsibility for the N&O's error. It was all the AP's fault, the Governor of West Virginia's fault, the mine owners' fault, impossible press deadlines --- you get Sill's point.

When readers reminded Sill that many papers with the same information and deadlines had gotten the story right; and that she should accept responsibly for the N&O's errors, Sill dismissed them as people who "look for any opportunity to bash us." (You can read Sill's explanations and her "conversation" with readers here.)

Sill's "final words" to readers were: ""There are occasions when we fall down on our responsibilities; this isn't one of them."

That prompted me to post on Sill's thread the following comment :

Comment from: John [Visitor] •
01/04/06 at 21:24


You say: "There are occasions when we fall down on our responsibilities; this isn't one of them."

Give us a few examples of what you see as The N&O falling down on its responsibilities?

Thank you.

Sill never offered any examples. Maybe she was too busy taking calls from people who "look for any opportunity to bash" the N&O.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

No Churchill Series post - Sept. 21, 2006


I'm sorry there won't be a post today.

I'm spending most of my blogging time on the Duke lacrosse case.

But I'll be posting The Churchill Series tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 22.

I appreciate your understanding.


Duke lacrosse: Two takes on Nifong's latest

Today both the Raleigh News & Observer and the Durham Herald Sun report concerning a phone survey of 300 Durhamites commissioned by attorneys for the three indicted Duke lacrosse players. Durham DA Mike Nifong is upset about the poll which he learned about from his wife, Cy Gurney. She was one of those polled.

There are major differences in the two papers’ reporting. Let's look at a few of them.

The H-S’s headlines :

Lacrosse defense survey questioned

Nifong says polling might taint jury pool
Now the N&O’s headlines :
Nifong assails phone survey

Duke lacrosse players’ lawyers say poll was to gauge prosecutor’s early public comments.
Right in the headlines the N&O tells readers defense attorneys say they polled to gauge the effects of Nifong’s early public comments. But the H-S says nothing about that and instead gives readers Nifong's spin that polling might taint the jury pool.

The N&O story reports on the attorneys' concern beginning in its second paragraph:
The defense lawyers said they were only trying to assess how Nifong himself might have influenced a potential jury with his early public comments on the case …
So when does the H-S mention the defense attorneys’ concern?

The H-S waits until its tenth paragraph before it reports:
[The] defense says it gave its approval for the survey, "as is their legal right and duty to protect the defendants' right to a fair trial before an impartial jury" as specified by the U.S. Constitution and North Carolina law.

"That impartiality could have been substantially threatened by extensive prejudicial comments" made by Nifong, the defense argues.”
A news story’s first few paragraphs are usually its most important ones. Look at each paper's first two paragraphs.

Editor Bob Ashley’s H-S starts off :
The prosecution is dialing up a new issue in the Duke lacrosse rape case.

Specifically, District Attorney Mike Nifong is questioning a survey -- admittedly approved by lacrosse rape suspects' defense attorneys -- which he said, if allowed to go unchecked, might wind up tainting the prospective jury pool for the case.
We’re moving right on to the N&O’s first two paragraphs, but keep in mind the H-S’s “admittedly approved by lacrosse rape suspects’ defense attorneys.” We’ll come back to that in a minute.

Here are the N&O’s first two grafs:
District Attorney Mike Nifong on Wednesday accused defense lawyers in the Duke University lacrosse rape case of using a telephone poll as a "thinly disguised" attempt to influence jurors.

The defense lawyers said they were only trying to assess how Nifong himself might have influenced a potential jury with his early public comments on the case, in which three men are accused of raping a woman hired to dance at a March lacrosse team party.
I don't need to highlight the differences, do I?

About that Ashley H-S report that defense attorney’s “admittedly approved” the polling. Here’s how the N&O reported on that:
In a motion prepared late Wednesday afternoon, attorneys for the three defendants asked a judge to deny Nifong and said they told him in August that they intended to conduct polling. The survey was scientific, the lawyers said, and limited to 300 interviews. (bold added)
Why didn't Editor Bob Ashley's paper tell readers the attorneys said they told Nifong about the polling in August? Why say instead the attorneys "admittedly approved" the poll?

The question answers itself, doesn't it? And the answer tells us a lot about Bob Ashley's H-S.

Most of the story both papers report is a matter of Nifong and his wife trying to make something out of nothing. Both papers should have mentioned that in cases where there’s been extensive pre-trial publicity, it's fairly common for defense attorney and sometime persecutors to poll prior to trial to determine community sentiment on critical issues.

I hope attorneys who read this post will comment and tell us more about that.

You’ll find the online H-S story here and the N&O’s here.

Others are commenting on Nifong's latest:

Liestoppers makes the very sensible point: "[It] appears unlikely that questions posed to 0.12% of local residents could serve to taint the jury pool regardless of how they are phrased."

The Poet of the Piedmont, Joan Foster, has a wonderful offering that begins:
Hello, Mrs Nifong
New York on the line.
Well, how are you doing?
We hope... doing fine
You're going to love the poem's title.

KC Johnson wonders if the strain of prosecuting three clearly innocent people isn’t getting to Nifong. He identifies some Nifong behaviors that are strange even by “Justice in Durham” standards

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Churchill Series – Sept 20, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Today we continue a “Walk in Churchill’s Steps” series we started on Monday.

We’re now leaving St. James Park and heading toward where Downing Street enters Whitehall. There are a number of ways to get there. It’s less than a five minute walk.

When you stand at Whitehall looking down the single block that’s Downing Street, you’re looking through a gate. In Churchill’s lifetime the street wasn’t gated. He knew it first as a small boy. His father, Lord Randolph, became Chancellor of the Exchequer when Churchill was about 10. The Chancellor's office and home are at 11 Downing Street. Churchill was away at school most of the time his father was Chancellor, he did stay at 11 Downing Street for short periods during holidays.

From the gates at Downing Street you see the Parliament building some few hundred yards up Whitehall.

Walk up Whitehall toward Parliament. It’s a walk Churchill made on countless days.

May 13, 1940, was one of those days. The 10 year old school boy who used to run up Whitehall to play in Parliament Square was on that day the 65 year old Commons Member for Epping about to address the House for the first time as Prime Minister. He would tell the House that he had “nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

But Churchill really offered much more. He gave courage, defiance, hope and purpose, ending his first speech as PM with:

"But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, 'come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.'"
Tomorrow we’ll end our walk in front of Churchill's statue in Parliament Square
The text of Churchill's May 13, 1940 speech to the Commons can be found here courtesy of The Churchill Centre.

Expiring Delta Miles and US military

If you're a Delta frequent flyer (Delta Rewards) and you have expiring miles you're not planning to use, you can donate them so they'll be put be Delta in a pool that's used to provide tickets at no cost to U.S. military service personnel.

Talk to your Delta agent about it.

It's a great thing to do.

The U.S. military is the world's greatest human rights organization.

Duke lacrosse: About trolls and deletes

A reader asks:

Why is everyone who disagrees with the "anti-Brodheads" a troll? Why is it that those who disagree can't be credible if their child is not at risk? Why threaten to erase their comments?
I think this reader is well-intentioned but the questions are overblown and misstate.

Everyone who disagrees with those the reader calls the “anti-Brodheads” is not a troll. I’ve not said that; and I can’t think of anyone else here who has besides this reader who misstates.

My sense is that almost all the people who’ve spoken up here for President Brodhead are sincere and wish to converse in a civil and serious way with due respect for others.

Such people are welcome here even when I think they are very wrong: Example – this second reader who says in part:
In the early days of the LAX mess, the entire country thought the LAX players were guilty. During that time, Richard Brodhead was one of the very few voices of reason. While the media conducted what can only be described as a high-tech lynching of the entire LAX team, Brodhead went before the television cameras in countless press conferences and submitted to countless newspaper, magazine, and television interviews. He reminded everyone that there was no evidence of any rape other than the allegation of the accuser. ….

However, I do not see him getting much credit for his efforts on this website. All I can say is that people have short memories because it was not too long ago that Richard Brodhead was just about the only person in the country who was standing up for the LAX players, other than their lawyers and their own families.
This reader is speaking civilly and makes a genuine effort, IMHO, to offer a fact-based case although the facts offered are, again IMHO, in some instances wrong.

But let’s leave the “who’s right, who’s wrong” matter for another time. I sometimes on second or third reading see where I’ve been wrong, when on my first reading I thought it was the other person who was wrong.

All I want to do here is offer an example of the kind of reader comment supporting Brodhead that’s welcome here.

Now for something completely different. Please read this comment:
I think it is important to remember that it was the LAX players who created this mess, not Brodhead. I think one of the things going on here is that the families of the LAX players and their supporters feel so guilty about the damage the players have done to the reputation of the university and so angry at how the players have been treated by the justice system and by the media that they just want to lash out at others in order to assuage their own guilt, and at some point along the way, they decided to beat up on Brodhead. This would help to explain some of the overheated rhetoric and, in some cases, downright false accusations about Brodhead that I have seen on this website and some of the other websites that have been following the LAX case.
This comment by a third reader is the kind of comment I delete.

This third reader begins with an absurdity: “it was the LAX players who created this mess”

Third reader then says the “families of the LAX players and their supporters feel so guilty about the damage the players have done to the reputation of the university and so angry …. that they just want to lash out at others in order to assuage their own guilt, and at some point along the way, they decided to beat up on Brodhead.”

All third reader is doing is using psycho-babble to make mean, unsubstantiated personal attacks against the LAX players, their families and their supporters.

But third reader doesn’t end there. Third reader, who is acting just like a troll, wants everyone to know about the “downright false accusations about Brodhead that I have seen on this website and some of the other websites.” Only troll doesn’t cite any. Making the accusation is what it’s all about.

There should now be no one who doesn’t know the difference between reasoned discourse and troll ad hominems.

The good news for trolls and those who want to hear what they say is that there are so many blogs that let trolls be trolls.

The good news for the rest of you is I’ll keep deleting; and I won’t repeat again the explanations for deletions I’ve given these past two days.

If I get a question about a deletion I think is genuine, I’ll refer the questioner to my archives for the Sept. 10 – 17 time period.


Newmark: "What the New York Times won't print"

Sometimes there's nothing to do but copy, paste and say "thank you" to bloggers whose work gets the job done and you can't imporve upon it with further commentary.

This is one of those times. Asst. Secretary of Defence Smith's letter to the NY Times needs to be "out there" so people can see it. Betsy's brief comments nail the Times.

Here's Betsy Newmark's post, "What the New York Times won't print"


Powerline has the text of a letter that Assistant Secretary of Defense Dorrance Smith sent to the New York Times to contradict errors that they had in their editorial. Smith's letter exposed all the errors in their piece which had said that, with the transfer of some CIA prisoners to Guantanamo, the US finally had some terrorists there.

The response of the New York Times to the exposure of how wrong they were: they neglected to print the letter. Here's the letter that the NYT didn't see fit to print.

September 7, 2006

Letter To The New York Times

To the Editor:

Your September 7, 2006 editorial, "A Sudden Sense of Urgency," asserts that the recent transfer of 14 CIA prisoners means that "President Bush finally has some real terrorists in Guantánamo Bay." This merits a correction.

Since its inception, terrorists that have been held at Guantánamo Bay have included personal bodyguards of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda recruiters, trainers, and facilitators. One notable individual held at Guantánamo was Mohamed al-Kahtani, believed to be the intended 20th hijacker on September 11th.

That many of these men are terrorists intent on doing America harm is not a simply an assertion made by the U.S. government, but something many detainees themselves have claimed, indeed boasted about. For example, in open commission hearings on March 1, Mr. Al Bahlul boasted five times that he was a member of Al Qaeda involved in an ongoing war against America. In open commission hearings on April 27, Mr. Al Sharbi said, "I’m going to make this easy for you guys: I’m proud of what I did and there isn’t any reason of hiding...I fought against the United States. I took up arms."

It is unfortunate that one of America’s largest newspapers concludes these men are not "real terrorists."


Dorrance Smith,
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
Perhaps they were just embarrassed about how wrong they'd been in their own editorial that they couldn't let the American people see that they, shock!, actually let their bias lead them into making such a mistake.

Thank you, Betsy.

Thank you, Powerline.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Churchill Series - Sept. 19, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

We are continuing today a “walk in Churchill’s footsteps” we started yesterday at The Savoy Hotel from which we walked East, past Charing Cross Station and up to the corner of Trafalgar Square, a very easy walk of less than 10 minutes.

After crossing the square we came to The Admiralty building from which the King summoned Churchill to Buckingham Palace in the early evening hours of May 10, 1940. We had just walked under Admiralty Arch and were starting our way up the Mall to the palace, a distance of a less than a mile.

We stopped at that point and continue now.

As you walk in the direction of the palace look to your left. You’ll see one of London’s loveliest parks, St. James. It has a lake which at its end closest to the Admiralty contains an area called Duke Island because - well, you can guess why.

Churchill loved St. James Park. When he was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 to 1915 and again from 1939 to 1940, the park was “in his backyard” because the First Lord lived as well as worked at the Admiralty.

During his first tenure as First Lord, Churchill often took his young children to see and feed the ducks, geese, swans and birds that nest in the island area.

During WWII Churchill frequently took his walks in St. James, which is also close to Downing Street. His principal bodyguard, Inspector Walter Thompson, tells a number of stories about those walks, often taken during blackouts. Thompson would beg Churchill not to go out in the blackout but off they went. One evening Churchill almost walked into a tree trunk.

The next day, a desperate Thompson convinced Churchill to let him make an adaptation to Churchill’s walking stick.

Thompson taped a flashlight (he called it “a torch”) to the end of Churchill’s stick. Then he taped a kind of “collar” around the light end of the torch so only a narrow beam shone from it. With the aid of that device, Churchill had no more close encounters with tree trunks in St. James.

Tomorrow, well turn away from Buckingham Palace and walk toward Churchill’s two favorite London destinations: Parliament and 10 Downing Street.

Duke lacrosse: Ashley’s ashes

A number of bloggers ( e.g. Liestoppers, KC Johnson, Johnsville and JinC) have called attention to the sharp decline in the accuracy and completeness of the Durham Herald Sun's reporting and analyses of matters relating to the Duke Hoax. They've also called attention to a series of Editor Bob Ashley’s editorials and columns concerning the hoax. Ashley, though, doesn’t call it a hoax. He's more: "Brodhead and Nifong are great; when's the trial?"

It occurred to me you might be interested in learning a little bit more about the Herald Sun, Ashley’s editorship and how the paper’s been doing recently. So I put this post together.

Three years ago, The Durham Herald Sun was a respected community newspaper owned by a local family. Then in late 2004, the H-S was sold to a privately held The Paxton Media Group, based in Paducah, Ky.

Paxton sent Ashley to Durham to run the H-S. On Ashley’s first day, scores of long-time H-S employees were summarily fired and escorted by security guards from the H-S building. They weren’t given reasons for their firings, other than they were no longer needed. They weren’t even allowed to return to their desks to say good-bye to friends and colleagues, some of whom they’d worked with for more than 20 years. Ashley explained that was because of "security reasons."

I called Ashley in mid January 2005, to complain about his treatment of the employees as well as what I saw as a significant drop in the paper’s quality after he took over. I said I was on the verge of doing what thousands of readers had already done: cancel my subscription.

Ashley asked me not to. Give him a chance, he said. Sure, there had been some initial “bumps.” But if I just gave him a chance, I’d see what he would do.

Ashley said in a year the H-S under his editorship would be a much better paper than it had ever been.

I gave him a chance; and watched the paper decline. When my subscription was up, I didn’t renew. I’ve since re-subscribed but mainly to have access to the H-S’s archives.

OK, that’s me. What about other people in Durham? How do they feel?

When Ashley first took over, the H-S had a weekday circulation of about 54 thousand. My best guess is that the H-S weekday circulation is now about 35 thousand or so, and continuing to decline. The decline is occurring in a fast-growing region with a strong and expanding economy.

It isn’t just readers who are abandoning what many people now call “Ashley’s H-S.”

Advertisers are abandoning it, too.

The information below illustrates that. For each of the five weekdays beginning Monday, Sept. 11, I counted the total number of pages in the H-S’s “A” section. Then I estimated the total number of those pages taken up by advertising.

I estimated the ad “pages” because ads were in various sizes from a few inches high and one column wide to a full page. I tried to make my ad “pages” estimates on the generous side. I suspect if Editor Bob Ashley himself were to check the amount of advertising in those “A” sections, he’d find my ad “pages” estimates might be a little high.

Here's what I found for each of the 5 days' "A" section

Sept. 11 -- 6 pages of which .75 was advertising.

Sept.12 -- 8 pages of which 2.25 were advertising.

Sept. 13 -- 8 pages of which 1.75 were advertising.

Sept. 14 -- 8 pages of which 1.50 were advertising.

Sept. 15 -- 8 pages of which 3.00 were advertising.
When a newspaper’s circulation is declining as its region grows and its weekday “A” section advertising averages less than two full pages a day, that paper’s headed for “a crash and burn,” even if its editor was once “Duke of Paducah.”

Ashley’s ashes!

I’ll be saying more soon about the demise of a once fine newspaper.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Churchill Series - Sept. 18, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Today I'd like to respond to a reader comment from last week. In doing that, perhaps I'll help make your next visit to London more memorable.

The commenter responded to a post concerning The Other Club, the social and dining club which Churchill co-founded in 1911; and held membership in until his death. The club met fortnightly in the Pinafore Room of London's Savoy Hotel when Parliament was in session.

The commenter said it was always special to be in the Pinafore Room and think of its Churchillian history.

The commenter got me thinking of a short “Churchill” tour you could all take from the Savoy.

Standing at the main entrance to the hotel you are at the end of a very short dead-end street that exits on to the Strand.

As you walk toward The Strand, you’ll notice on your left the entrance to a theatre (as they spell it there). Fittingly enough it’s The Savoy, once “the home” of the D’Oyle Carte Opera Company, producer of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas of which Churchill was so fond. He often sang G&S songs in his bath. And, of course, he attended many productions at the Savoy.

Since Churchill’s time, the Savoy Theatre has been gutted and rehabbed inside. But the outside structure and the basic interior layout remain essentially the same as in his lifetime.

When you come out onto The Strand, turn left in the direction of Trafalgar Square, which is an easy five-minute walk down The Strand.

Stay on the left side of The Strand as you approach Trafalgar and you’re taking the same walk Churchill often took to head back, say, to the Admiralty or the Charing Cross station where he’d catch a train to Seven Oaks, the station near Chartwell.

You’ll come to Charing Cross in just a few minutes. If at that point you look across to your right, you’ll see Saint Martin-in-the-Fields. Its crypt now serves as a gift shop and café. During WWII, it served as a bomb shelter.

Continue past Charing Cross another few blocks down The Strand and you’ll find yourself on the Southeast side of Trafalgar Square. You can look to the North side and see the National Gallery. Churchill sometimes took his children there.

Directly across from you on the West side of the square is The Admiralty. Through Admiralty Arch you can look up the roadway and see Buckingham Palace. It was from The Admiralty in the early evening hours of May 10, 1940 that Churchill, alone except for his bodyguard Inspector Thompson, rode to the Palace in response to the King’s summons.

(Continued tomorrow)

Duke lacrosse: Brodhead and students on trial

I’ve repeatedly said Duke’s President Richard H. Brodhead wants to see three Duke students put on trial for gang-rape.

In a number of posts I’ve cited many reasons why that statement is true. The students have been indicted for multiple felonies including rape. Those indictments, unless overturned, make a trial necessary. Brodhead has refused to say a word of criticism of DA Mike Nifong or the investigative travesties that led to those indictments.

Duke Law Professor James Coleman has called for Nifong to step aside and allow a special prosecutor to take over the case. That would include a review of the indictments by the new prosecutor who could possibly ask for their dismissal. In that case, we wouldn’t see the students put on trial.

So if you want to see the students put on trial you should say nothing critical of DA Nifong; and for heavens sake, you don’t say anything like: “I think Professor Coleman is right. Nifong should step aside.”

You especially shouldn’t criticize Nifong or endorse what Coleman has said if you’re the President of Duke University, because your words would carry great weight with public officials and the general public.

President Brodhead has been under great pressure from many sources to speak out but he's resisted the pressure. That’s because he wants to see those three Duke students put on trial.

When President Brodhead doesn’t want to see Duke students put on trial, he says so. And Brodhead says so in no uncertain terms.

Take, for example, Brodhead’s Aug. 3, 2005 letter to the President of Armenia, in whose country a Duke student, Yektan Turkyilmaz, was scheduled for trial. Saying he was writing as the President of Duke University, Brodhead appealed to the Armemian President:

you have the ability to intervene in this matter and to determine the appropriateness of the actions of your government and the Armenian prosecutors and police. You also have the ability to release Mr. Turkyilmaz. With respect, I urge you to do so.
Soon after Brodhead made his appeal, Turkyilmaz was allowed to leave Armenia.

Friends of Duke University spokesperson Jason Trumpbour, a former Asst. Attorney General for the State of Maryland, was happy for the resolution of Turkyilmaz’s case. But Trumpbour also noted (scroll to Sept. 13 statement):
Brodhead was evidently willing and able to speak up in the case of Yektan Turkyilmaz and express concern about the irregular circumstances of his arrest as well he should have.

Moreover, President Brodhead was also willing to go further and actually express an opinion as to the proper resolution of the case.

It is truly sad to learn that President Brodhead’s willingness to intervene on behalf of his students when they are faced with injustice is selective and not based on any sort of principle, whether right headed or wrong headed, whatsoever. Thus, in addition to injuring Reade, Collin and David with his silence, President Brodhead insults them as well.
I’ll repeat: President Brodhead wants to see the three Duke students put on trial for gang-rape.

If that ever changes, I’ll say so.

If Brodhead writes a letter to the same effect as he did in the case of Turkyilmaz, I’ll publish it in full here and link to it.

If Brodhead even just says something like: “You know, maybe we ought to take another look at those indictments. Professor Coleman may be right. Let’s bring in an special prosecutor,” I’ll be sure to put a post up ASAP.

Until such time, it isn’t fair for trolls to misrepresent Brodhead’s position by claiming he doesn’t want to see the students put on trial.

I can’t control what happens at the millions of other blogs that are out there, but I can at least delete comments here that misrepresent Brodhead.

Now I have to get to work on that email I’m sending Brodhead asking what he said in response to the racist remarks and death threats that were hurled at Reade Seligmann on May 18.

What do you think he’s going to tell me?

Duke lacrosse: Lots of good posts

William Anderson reminds us of what much of Duke campus was like last Spring. He tells us how and why it was that way.

Attorney Mike Gaynor is calling on the accuser to come forward; tell the truth; and end the hoax and the injustices and miseries its spawned. Key graf:

The Duke case should be put out of its misery, so the undeserved misery of the Duke Three and their families and friends can be alleviated, they can move on with their lives, and the people of Durham County can do what they need to do.
I hope it happens, Mike, but I'm not holding my breath.

Liestoppers has two posts up today. One is “Let the Great Axe Fall.” I’ll bet you can guess whose head they want. Liestoppers' Meet the Enablers Series has a very deserving “honoree” today: Durham Herald Sun Editor Bob Ashley.

Besides serving as Liestoppers Enabler “honoree,” Ashley’s doing double duty today serving KC Johnson’s “piñata of the day.” Here’s part of what KC says:
In the lacrosse case, Ashley has failed at performing the basic journalistic task of speaking truth to power–and in an affair where the representatives of "power" desperately need rebuke. But he’s not a very good propagandist, either. His paper’s columns and articles are either comically heavy-handed (as in the editorial praising Chalmers’ alleged openness) or unintentionally helpful to critics of Nifong and Gottlieb. No wonder the Herald-Sun’s circulation figures continue to plunge. Hilarity on the news and editorial pages, whether intended or not, isn’t a good selling point.
You may be asking: It there any life left in Ashley’s H-S. Johnsville News offers its answer: “Duke Case: Death Spiral for The Herald-Sun”
The Herald-Sun may be another casualty of the Duke rape hoax. The case has been an acid test for North Carolina journalists. It looks like the acid from this case may peel away the remaining dead flesh from the corpse of The Herald-Sun.
When Bob Ashley first took over as H-S editor in December 2004 he said to me: “Give me some time, John. I’ll show you what I can do with this paper.”

I did; he has.

One final link is to the Raleigh N&O's Editors' Blog post "Duke lacrosse latest: Gottlieb profile." Scroll down and take a look at what reader/commenters are posting on the thread.

RSS Update 9 -18 -06

Hold on, folks.

A few minutes ago I posted from a friend saying RSS might be tough to do etc.

Now other friends are stepping up and working with the first friend. JinC may actually have RSS now if you know how to access it.

I'm sure there'll be another announcement about this soon.

I'm lucky to have great friends.

Still, on this matter I feel like the guy in the circus waiting to get shot out of the cannon.


On the RSS matter


This FYI.

In the most recent Readers/Commenters post, I responded to a comment saying, "turn on the RSS, please."

I said I'm a tech dummy (BTW - How do radio waves get into our homes when all the doors and windows are shut?) but said a friend would get the RSS turned on.

Friend researched and responded this morning.

Ok, I did some research between calls and Blogger uses a standard called "Atom" which is, apparently, the losing standard. Think Betamax or Diesel engines for cars.

There is a way to change it to RSS but it involves putting special blogger code into your template. Which I am reluctant to do, for obvious reasons.

I will try a few things that are non-destructive and see what I can figure out.

We may need to wrap this into your long-delayed site redesign. Take a look at and see what you think of the design.
I'll keep you posted.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

This reader “gets” me and most of you, too

Readers’ Note: The Anon reader/commenter below is describing exactly what I seek to do here; and how I try to respect you while making the case for things I believe in.

My guess is that most of you reading the comment are going to say something like: “That’s right. And that's why I visit at JinC.”

I also think Anon’s “here’s a suggestion” is very good advice.


anonymous 9:08 PM wrote: their hearts, your audience knows that what I have said is true...

Not really, anonymous. You, along with most of the reporters covering this case are missing one of the important elements of blogging: the hyperlink.

What John in Carolina says Pres. Brodhead says doesn't mean that much in and of itself. He links to accounts and sources. (If Brodhead posted transcripts, he'd link to them.)

John in Carolina's reader can follow those links. We can follow analyses and links provided by other bloggers, notably KC Johnson, on the same and related topics. Thus, we can decide for ourselves (1) whether John in Carolina is a generally trustworthy source and analyst, and (2) whether we agree with his interpretation on any given point.

Readers judge my comments by the same standards.

Now for the bad news. Your contributions also get evaluated this way.

anonymous 9:08 PM, here's a suggestion. Rather than continuing down the nanny-nanny-noo-noo route in John in Carolina's comments section, why don't you start a blog of your own (it's free)? You'll be in complete control of what you post; no deletion threats. Then you can apply this powerful tool (the hyperlink) to your arguments, the way John does for his.

In my opinion, John, KC Johnson, and the other prominent bloggers covering the Duke Hoax have shown themselves to be open to differences of opinion. You'll have no trouble leaving polite comments, offering readers links to your posts. People will click through and see what you have to say.

Then you can lose the victim pose that permeates your last comment, and focus on what you think the issues really are.

My two cents.

The Tar Heel Made Me Smile

Classes at UNC – Chapel Hill started weeks ago. So I smiled when I read on the Sept. 15 front-page of Carolina’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, the headline :

Talk about a laid back group!

But the story which followed seemed to clear things up. It began :
The Faculty Council will meet today for the first time under new leadership.
Or did the story clear things up, I wonder?

The very able DTH editors surely knew they could have headlined :
So why didn’t they?

Could it be that DTH editors are miffed at their faculty? Is it possible for instance that the
headline is payback by editors only carrying A averages who know they really deserve A+ averages?

I decided to ask the DTH editor. I’m sending him an email that includes a link to this post.

I’m promising him I won’t say a word about anything he tells me except to all of you.

I’d hate to get him and the other editors in trouble with the faculty just as its starting work for the year.

Duke lacrosse: Brodhead Information Wanted

I have a few questions Duke President Richard H. Brodhead and his top administrators can easily answer.

But it’s the weekend, so I hate to bother them now.

Maybe one of you can help me.

This morning I was researching for a post documenting President Brodhead’s responses to racist slurs and threats that are part of the Duke lacrosse case.

You’ll recall that on Mar. 13/14, the night of the party, a 911 call was made by a woman who claimed racist remarks were shouted at her and a companion as they passed the house where the party was held.

The public only became aware of the tape’s existence in late March when we were told the caller was unknown to police, something we now know to be false.

The caller, Kim Roberts, “the second danser,” had ID'ed herself to police more than a week before the tape became public.

After listening to the tape, President Brodhead on Mar. 29 issued a written statement :

I have now had the opportunity to listen to the tape. It is disgusting. Racism and its hateful language have no place in this community. I am sorry the woman and her friend were subjected to such abuse
In subsequent days and weeks Brodhead continued to speak out and condemn the racist slurs Roberts described.

So documenting Brodhead’s responses to Roberts’ allegations is very easy.

What I need your help with is documenting Brodhead’s response(s) to the racist threats, including death threats, Reade Seligmann was subjected to on May 18; first, as he walked to the Durham County Courthouse; and then, shortly afterwards, in the courtroom.

No doubt many of you watched and heard as racists repeatedly shouted “Justice will be served, Rapist” at Seligmann as he walked to the courthouse.

I’m told Court TV picked up more shouts of “Justice will be served, Rapist" as well as the death threat "Dead man walking." The reporter for The Guardian gave this description of the courtroom scene:
"From the gallery one onlooker shouted: 'Justice will be served, rapist!' Seligmann largely ignored the taunts, but as he left came the call 'Dead man walking!' and he blanched."
What a terrible day it must have been for Seligmann and his family.

As regards Brodhead's response(s)to the racist threats, including death threats shouted at Seligmannn, I’ve been unable to find any documentation.

I've read every one of President Brodhead's statements at Duke's lacrosse case web page. I've searched Duke's website using its engine and various combinations of the input words: President, Brodhead, Seligmann, New Black Panthers, racist, racial, death threat, statement, comment, and condemnation.

All that searching turned up nothing as regards Brodhead speaking out forcefully as he did after listening to Roberts' 911 call. Or for that matter, speaking out at all about the horrendous racism and death threats to which Reade Seligmann and his family were subjected on May 18.

I next tried the Raleigh News & Observer's archives. I did a customized search for the period May 18, 2006 to June 15, 2006 using the input word: Brodhead.

That search was no more successful than my other searches.

I'm sure you see why I'm asking for documentation of so extraordinarily important a matter.

If I don't have documentation by tomorrow, I plan to contact Brodhead directly.

Thank you.