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Carver Gym Auction Update, Banks’ Foreclosed Hostages, Sadness at Fox: The Live Wire

| May 23, 2011

Detail from an installation by Louise Lieber at Palm Coast's Hollingsworth Gallery. Lieber's work, along with works by Antoinette Slick, are on exhibit through June 3. There will be a closing reception, with both artists presents, at Hollingsworth on May 7, from 6 to 9 p.m. (© FlaglerLive)

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Carver Gym Auction Update

From Flagler County: “The Carver Center virtual auction to raise funds for equipment and programs has topped $3,000 and is continuing to attract bidders. Rather than a regular auction with an auctioneer or a silent auction with bids being placed on items at a social event, the Carver Center auction is being held on line with bid updates being made twice a day through the week. There is plenty of competition among bidders for the items up for auction. Jon Netts’ two hour boat tour with wine and cheese started out at $50 and is now at $150. Sam Cline’s large coquina rock delivered to your door has also been a hot item and it is now at $100. “All the bid items have been donated, Flagler County Commission Vice Chair Barbara Revels said. “ One thing is for sure the bids won’t stay the same as they approach the June 15 midnight deadline” Bidders have been battling back and forth over some of the items and there are still bargains to be had in the auction. For example: a week at a time share the current bid is $200; a $50 gift certificate to the Fisherman’s Net restaurant, current bid $30; 20 tickets to the Daytona Cubs, current bid $10.; a round of golf for three and lunch thrown in, $60; and a three piece live band entertainment with a current bid of $60. “It is going to come down to the wire as the deadline gets closer,” Commissioner Revels said. “The top bid will take it at midnight and in the case of bids that tie for the same amount, the first bid submitted is the winner.” To check on the items and current bids go to To submit a bid email or call 386-313-4040. Bidders must include their bid and the item they are bidding on, their name, address, phone number and email address. Anyone who doesn’t want to bid but does want to donate can do so by writing a check to the GW Carver Foundation at P.O. Box 434, Flagler Beach, FL 32136. “It is for a good cause,” Revels said. “I would like to see the community come out and support this effort.”

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Prison-Jamming Unconstitutional

One of the images included in the Supreme Court's decision on overcrowding in prisons. Click on the image for larger view.

From McClatchy: “A closely divided Supreme Court on Monday cited “serious constitutional violations” in California’s overcrowded prisons and ordered the state to abide by aggressive plans to fix the problem. In a decision closely watched by other states, the court by a 5-4 margin concluded the prison overcrowding violated constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. Pointedly, the court rejected California’s bid for more time and leeway. “The violations have persisted for years,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. “They remain uncorrected.” […] the court’s majority made the highly unusual if not unprecedented move of including stark black-and-white photographs of a jam-packed room at Mule Creek State Prison and cages at Salinas Valley State Prison. Conservative dissenters, in turn, warned dire consequences will result. […] California’s 33 state prisons held about 147,000 inmates, at the time of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments last November. This is down from a high of some 160,000 previously cited in legal filings. The higher figure amounted to “190 percent of design capacity,” officials said. Last year, a three-judge panel ordered California to reduce its inmate population to 137.5 percent of design capacity within two years. That’s the equivalent of about 110,000 inmates.” Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia were characteristically apoplectic: “Today the Court affirms what is perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our Nation’s history: an order requiring California to release the staggering number of 46,000 convicted criminals,” they wrote.

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Florida vs. Watchdogs

From the St. Augustine Record: “Florida, long one of America’s most revered retirement spots, has launched what critics call an unprecedented assault on watchdogs for its oldest and sickest they believe amounts to political kowtowing to the powerful nursing home industry. Since Gov. Rick Scott assumed office, the state’s top nursing home watchdog has been replaced with someone seen as far more favorable to the industry, the watchdog’s subordinates have been muzzled from speaking to the press and its outspoken head volunteer have been fired, cumulatively triggering two whistleblower complaints and a federal investigation.
[…] The long-term care ombudsman program, as the watchdog agency is known, costs about $3 million annually, with most of that coming from the federal government. Most of its work is done by volunteers who go out to facilities to investigate the complaints of residents and advocate on their behalf. All states have such agencies, which are mandated by the Older Americans Act, though they’re largely invisible to the general public. […] State lawmakers proposed bills that, among other things, would have removed the requirement for ombudsmen to conduct on-site assessments of nursing homes; repealed a law requiring the collection and analysis of data related to complaints in long-term care facilities; remove a requirement to disseminate a list of facilities that have been fined; and make it more difficult to sue nursing homes and place a lower cap on damages that could be awarded. All of those measures ultimately failed, though another legislative change, to lower the staff-to-resident ratio requirements for nursing homes, did pass, seen as a cost-cutting measure in the face of reductions to Medicaid reimbursements. It reduces the average amount of direct care provided residents by 18 minutes each day.” The full story.

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Sadness at Fox: How Roger Ailes Lost the Next Election

From New York Magazine: “Ailes is the most successful executive in television by a wide margin, and he has been so for more than a decade. He is also, in a sense, the head of the Republican Party, having employed five prospective presidential candidates and done perhaps more than anyone to alter the balance of power in the national media in favor of the Republicans. […] So it must have been disturbing to Ailes when the wheels started to come off Fox’s presidential-circus caravan. (Coincidentally or not, this happened more or less when Donald Trump jumped on: “They like me on the network,” Trump told me. “I get ratings.”) The problem wasn’t that ratings had been slipping that much—Beck’s show declined by 30 percent from record highs, but the ratings were still nearly double those from before he joined the network. It was that, with an actual presidential election on the horizon, the Fox candidates’ poll numbers remain dismally low (Sarah Palin is polling 12 percent; Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, 10 percent and 2 percent, respectively). Ailes’s ­candidates-in-­waiting were coming up small. And, for all his programming genius, he was more interested in a real narrative than a television narrative—he wanted to elect a president. All he had to do was watch Fox’s May 5 debate in South Carolina to see what a mess the field was—a mess partly created by the loudmouths he’d given airtime to and a tea party he’d nurtured. And, not incidentally, a strong Republican candidate would be good for his business, too. A few months ago, Ailes called Chris Christie and encouraged him to jump into the race. Last summer, he’d invited Christie to dinner at his upstate compound along with Rush Limbaugh, and like much of the GOP Establishment, he fell hard for Christie, who nevertheless politely turned down Ailes’s calls to run. Ailes had also hoped that David Petraeus would run for president, but Petraeus too has decided to sit this election out, choosing to stay on the counterterrorism front lines as the head of Barack Obama’s CIA. The truth is, for all the antics that often appear on his network, there is a seriousness that underlies Ailes’s own politics. He still speaks almost daily with George H. W. Bush, one of the GOP’s last great moderates, and a war hero, which especially impresses Ailes.” The full story.

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Banks Holding Foreclosures Hostage

From The Times: “The nation’s biggest banks and mortgage lenders have steadily amassed real estate empires, acquiring a glut of foreclosed homes that threatens to deepen the housing slump and create a further drag on the economic recovery. All told, they own more than 872,000 homes as a result of the groundswell in foreclosures, almost twice as many as when the financial crisis began in 2007, according to RealtyTrac, a real estate data provider. In addition, they are in the process of foreclosing on an additional one million homes and are poised to take possession of several million more in the years ahead. Five years after the housing market started teetering, economists now worry that the rise in lender-owned homes could create another vicious circle, in which the growing inventory of distressed property further depresses home values and leads to even more distressed sales. With the spring home-selling season under way, real estate prices have been declining across the country in recent months. […] Over all, economists project that it would take about three years for lenders to sell their backlog of foreclosed homes. As a result, home values nationally could fall 5 percent by the end of 2011, according to Moody’s, and rise only modestly over the following year. Regions that were hardest hit by the housing collapse and recession could take even longer to recover — dealing yet another blow to a still-struggling economy.” The full story.

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Is Cheerleading a Sport?

From The Times: “[H]as cheerleading become a true sport? For many women, especially those who worked at the forefront of the push for equality in college sports, the answer for a long time was no. They feared that calling it a sport sent the wrong message to women — endorsing an embarrassing holdover from a time when girls in tight-fitting outfits were expected to do little more than yell support for boys. Those women were also skeptical of high schools and universities that counted female cheerleaders as athletes as a way to evade their obligation to provide opportunities for women in more traditional sports, like softball and soccer. But other women bristled at what felt like an insult. Why should cheerleading not be considered a sport when it required a complex set of technical skills, physical fitness and real guts? Now, in a development that may settle the debate, two groups are asking the National Collegiate Athletic Association to recognize a new version of cheerleading as an “emerging sport” for women, a precursor to full status as a championship sport. If successful, dozens of athletic programs could begin to fully finance cheerleading teams, recruit scholarship athletes and send them to a national championship. […] George W. Bush was the head cheerleader at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. […] But even as cheerleading edged closer to resembling a sport, advocates for gender equity in sports resisted calling cheerleaders athletes. “Historically, cheerleading has been about supporting athletes, not about being an athlete,” said Barbara Osborne, a scholarship basketball player who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in 1982 and who now advises universities on gender-equity issues.” The full article.

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George Carlin’s Modern Man

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Friends of A1A’s Environmental Education Fair

From Sallie O’Hara of Friends of A1A: “More than 500 children and adults from St. Johns and Flagler counties turned out Friday and Saturday at the Friends of A1A’s Environmental Education Fair to learn about their coastal environment and the importance of giving nature a hand. The main event, hosted by the Friends of A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway, was Saturday when the public was invited to the River-to-Sea Preserve West near Marineland. Activities included five hours of educational presentations, nature work stations, storytelling, games and face painting, music, nature trail walks and kayaking opportunities on the Intracoastal Waterway. All who attended learned more about the environment, the 72-miles of SR A1A that spans St. Johns and Flagler counties, and the 90-acre River-to-Sea Preserve and its beautiful lake and walking trails. This was the first festival event for this county park due for a facelift next year with recently acquired grant funding courtesy of Friends of A1A and Flagler County. […] The day prior to the event, Fri., May 20, 200 fourth graders from Rymfire Elementary School experienced Ocean Literacy lessons up close with a field trip to the River-to-Sea
Preserve East. During their three-hour trip, they visited nine learning stations, rotating every 10 minutes to learn about litter abatement, the value of ocean habitats and other conservation activities consistent with Florida school standards.”

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Nate Silvers’ Advice to Journalists

Nate Silver, who started the great FiveThirtyEight elections bolog before being snapped up by The Times, was the commencement speaker at the Columbia School of Journalism. Some of his advice to the next generation of journalists: “One of the bigger mistakes that people make when they think about writing a story is that they assume that it literally consists of typing ‐‐ or, absent that, staring at a blinking cursor on a computer screen. But really, that should normally come close to the end of your process. The third step is writing. The second step is thinking. And the first step is normally going to be reading. What should you be reading? Everything. This is the flip‐side of cheap content: you have access to more information than ever before. Read blogs. Newspapers. Trade magazines. Books. Interview transcripts. Financial filings. And this is an important one that a lot of journalists miss: academic papers, which are more accessible than ever on sources like Google Scholar. Some academics don’t know how to write, but a few of them do, and there’s a lot of wisdom there once you get used to parsing through the language. […]The third skill: learn how to make an argument. This is something that came naturally to me as a former high school debater. One of the things that distinguishes (quote‐unquote) “new journalism” from some of its more traditional forms is that the reader is really going to be looking for analysis, meaning, context, argument. Unless you come across some really fresh and proprietary information ‐‐ it’s great to get a scoop, but it won’t happen very often ‐‐ it’s not enough just to present the information verbatim. One of the flaws of political journalism, in fact, is that a lot of what amounts to spin is given authority by being reported at face value. Instead, the reader is going to be asking you to develop a hypothesis, weigh the evidence, and come to some conclusion about it ‐‐ it’s really very much analogous to the scientific method. Good journalism has always done this ‐‐ but now it needs to be done more explicitly.” See the full lecture.

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A Few Good Links

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1 Response for “Carver Gym Auction Update, Banks’ Foreclosed Hostages, Sadness at Fox: The Live Wire”

  1. Jack says:

    Incarceration is big business. CA’s prison industrial complex is the largest in the US and their lobbyists are by far some of the most powerful in the state. I wonder how many of those inmates are nonviolent offenders snagged in the fruitless war on drugs? Let’s divert those billions spent on prisons to education, but wait, that would make too much sense!

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