Friday, August 24, 2007

Godless and Barbaric

Anything to make money in Russia.

The artist was given access to the morgue to take photographs of eight bodies with various objects including sheet music, a key and an apple. The coronor was accused of abuse of a corpse for letting the artist take the pictures, and he was convicted. However, another court ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict him.

This isn't the first time the morgue has allowed desecration of bodies. They allowed a cornea removal without family approval and body organ removal without notice to families.


Only it isn't Russia. It's Hamilton County, Ohio. The county seat is -- Cincinnati.
Hamilton County settled a lawsuit Tuesday filed by the families of people whose bodies were photographed by an artist at the morgue. The county agreed to pay $8 million to 532 families in the class-action suit filed six years ago, but officials said the interest-free payments would be made over two years.

Every copy of the offending photographs will be transferred to the families’ attorneys and destroyed, officials said.
As for the photographer.
Photographer Thomas Condon was convicted in October 2001 on eight counts of gross abuse of a corpse for taking pictures of bodies with various objects including sheet music, a key and an apple.

Former deputy coroner Jonathan Tobias, who was accused of letting Condon take the photographs, was also found guilty of gross abuse of a corpse. That conviction was thrown out when 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals ruled that prosecutors did not have enough evidence to convict him.

Under the agreement, Hamilton County Coroner O’Dell Owens, first elected to office in 2004, will reopen a morgue viewing room, offer grief counseling and establish a memorial at the morgue in memory of the deceased family members.

“Dr. Owens has acted aggressively to correct the mistakes of previous coroners,” said attorney Stan Chesley, who filed the class action suit. “This settlement provides fair compensation to all of the families affected.”

The morgue settlement will go before federal Judge Arthur Spiegel in about a month for a fairness hearing, which is the final step before payment and closure.

This settlement marks the third time since 2001 that the county have paid damages for misdeeds in the coroner’s office that predate the previous administration. The first two cases cost county taxpayers $5.25 million, once for a cornea removal without family approval, and a $6 million settlement for body organ removal without notice to families.
Source: Link

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Poster Boy

Gov. George Ryan pardoned Aaron Patterson in 2003, saying there was no credible evidence against him. Ryan also pardoned three other men and commuted the sentences of all other death row inmates to life without parole. Today Ryan, sentenced to six and a half years, is likely to go to jail after his appeal is completed , and Paterson is back for 30 years.
A former death row inmate who became a symbol of a badly broken criminal justice system harangued prosecutors and denounced a federal judge Tuesday before being sentenced to 30 years in prison for trading in guns and drugs.

Aaron Patterson, who prosecutors claimed coordinated gang activities even as he served 17 years in prison for a double murder he insists he didn't commit, made a 45-minute expletive-laden statement to the court before his sentence was read."You're going to put me down for a high sentence, but I'll be back. Back with a vengeance," said Patterson, his hands and ankles bound as he spoke from the defense table flanked by three federal marshals.
After his release and pardon, Patterson unsuccessfully ran for State Legislature.

No wonder Ryan was against the death penalty. He had a lot more in common with the criminals inside jail than voters.

Few stories remember why Patterson was on death row in the first place.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Black Murder Victims

There are times when you shake your head at the absurdity of the Associated Press. In a story on the number of black murder victims, the writer, LARA JAKES JORDAN, reports the facts and then, well, goes out on a righteous cause limb.

FACT: Nearly half of the nation's murder victims in 2005 were black, and the number of black men who were slain is on the rise.
(The number of white victims also rose. See Homocide victims per 100,000 by race. Scroll to bottom.)

FACT: A majority of the black murder victims were relatively young -- between 17 and 29.

FACT: Black people represented an estimated 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2005, the latest data available, but were the victims of 49 percent of all murders and 15 percent of rapes, assaults and other nonfatal violent crimes nationwide.

FACT: Most of the black murder victims -- 93 percent -- were killed by other black people.

FACT: About 85 percent of white victims were slain by other white people.

FACT: Poorer black people were at a greater risk of violence than households with higher annual incomes. (SEE below - Income.)

She characterizes the above as, "The department's Bureau of Justice Statistics report offers a snapshot of racial disparities among violent crime victims." She could have chosen the word, "difference" but disparity suggests an inequality that needs to be corrected.

It's a money thing.
National Urban League President Marc Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans, said the data reflect a trend that cannot be reversed by law enforcement alone. It will require changes in public education and a revival of federal summer jobs programs for economically disadvantaged young people, he said.

"The mixture of illegal drugs, easy access to handguns, and young men who feel locked out of economic opportunity is what these statistics reflect," Morial said.

Not linked to in the story is the PRESS RELEASE from the Department of Justice on the report, "Black Victims of Violent Crime" (NCJ-214258) and the full report HERE (PDF)

MISSED FACT: About half of homicides against blacks occurred in cities with a population of at least 250,000 people.

MISSED FACT: About 77 percent of black homicide victims were killed with a firearm.

MISSED FACT: Black victims were more likely than victims or any other racial group or Hispanics to face an offender with a weapon.

MISSED FACT: Young males, particularly young black males, are disproportionately involved in homicide compared to their share of the population. (Click on chart to enlarge.)

FACT: Homicide offending patterns are similar to victimization patterns.

Income figures in the report are related to non-fatal crimes like robbery. (See pg 4.)

Fact: Among blacks, males and those in urban areas were the most vulnerable to robbery victimization

Between 2001 and 2005, blacks ages 12 to 19 made up about 37% of all black robbery victims, a percentage similar to that for Hispanics (table 3). Males made up the majority of robbery victims among blacks, whites and Hispanics.

About a third of black robbery victims lived in households with annual incomes of less than $15,000.

Black robbery victims (65%) were more likely than white robbery victims (41%) to live in urban areas.
If I were a reporter, I wouldn't call the National Urban League but a record producer. I wouldn't agonize over disparity but wonder if the rise of Gangsta rap in the 1990s hasn't been one of the greatest factors in the rise of both victims and offenders between 18-24.

Until we do have reporters who actually think of both whites and blacks as victims when they are murdered or robbed, the newspapers will continue to flog a 1960's - "poverty's the problem" - mentality. If money was the answer, then Washington, D.C. schools would be the best in the country. New Jersey schools would be the second best.

The problem is a decline in black culture in urban areas, the breakdown of black families, out of wedlock births, illegal drugs, bad role models, and the indifference of liberals to solving any of those problems. For liberals the answer will always be more money.

Global Scamming

An editorial in the Detroit News, "Put up or shut up on global warming" nails the issue.
Fighting global warming isn't so much fun now, is it? When the battle targeted almost exclusively Detroit's auto industry, volunteers were falling all over themselves to sign up.
But now it's about to hit closer to home for most Americans. U.S. Rep. John Dingell, the Dearborn Democrat who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, is proposing a 50-cent tax on a gallon of gasoline and suspension of mortgage deductions for what he calls McMansions -- homes over 3,000 square feet.

Dingell continues to press the point that if we believe global warming is so serious a threat that it's worth destroying the automobile industry, then it's also worth spreading the pain to as many other places as possible.

His proposal is aimed at the Hollywood hypocrites who testify before Congress about the evils of the auto industry and then fly private jets back to their 30,000-square-foot hillside palaces. If the smug global warming warriors who park their Priuses in four-car garages want to cram everyone else into wheeled shoe boxes, then they should be willing to bed down in cracker boxes.

Heating and cooling giant houses produces as much carbon as driving a sport utility vehicle.
And Dingell is right in reminding consumers that they can't keep crying for Detroit to develop more fuel-efficient cars while demanding cheap gasoline and vehicles large enough to haul a soccer team.

If Americans are serious about combating global warming, then they must be made to understand it will require sacrifice. Smaller cars won't be enough to get the job done. Smaller houses will be part of the equation, too, as will be much larger energy bills.

We aren't so thrilled with the idea of penalizing those who own big homes, or about raising the cost of gasoline, heating fuel and electricity. But neither are we crazy about driving automakers into bankruptcy in the name of fighting a phenomenon we don't yet fully understand or are certain we can control.

But we do like Dingell's idea of putting a clear price tag on the global warming war and making consumers understand they'll be the ones to pay it.

The largest worry is what the politicos intend to do with all that money they will raise in the interest of fighting global warming. The nearly unlimited funding of schools has shown what money can't buy. Trusting the United Nations or France to lead the effort is laughable considering their track record of accountability and concepts of democracy.

If long-term weather trends result in warming, I can't see any politician - who is more likely to own a 3,000+-square foot home than most citizens - giving up their comfort, SUVs, air conditioners or 200,000 miles a year airplane travel to help the planet.