The aftermath of the Newtown shooting unfortunately included erroneous reporting from some media outlets.
NBC, CNN and The New York Times all issued reports indicating that a rifle was found in the shooter’s car or only handguns were used in the killing spree. Those reports were later proven false, but some people continue to believe a rifle was not used in the shooter’s rampage and cite that “fact” when opposing gun-control efforts.
But that detail is largely irrelevant. Whether done with a rifle or handgun, the killing of 20 children and six adults is a tragedy.
The important questions to ask in any resulting gun control debate is not what type of gun was used at Newtown, but 1) whether proposed remedies are constitutional, and 2) whether proposed gun regulations would make citizens safer — or actually place them in greater danger by leaving them defenseless.
Ten public bodies in Oklahoma were applauded this week for the transparency of their websites.
A national nonprofit called Sunshine Review included the 10 in doling out its fourth annual Sunny Awards, which honor government entities “that make transparency a priority.” The Sunshine Review looked at more than 1,000 government websites and graded them against a 10-point checklist. In all, 247 received an award.
Those in Oklahoma were: the cities of Broken Arrow, Enid, Owasso, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Norman; Oklahoma, Tulsa and Wagoner counties, and Edmond Public Schools.
Congratulations to the winners, and here’s hoping they have more company from Oklahoma next year.
Mitt Romney got a chuckle at the Republican National Convention when he mocked Barack Obama’s 2008 promise that future generations could look back at his presidency as the time “when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Obama’s adoring fans weren’t laughing. They turned the remarks back on Romney, oblivious to the fact that candidate Obama’s high-sounding words had no connection to reality.
Nevertheless, Obama promised that the weather would be warmer at his second inaugural than his first. It was. An Associated Press writer took this too seriously — and too subjectively for a news reporter: “While his policies can lessen or worsen future projected global warming in a large scale, they cannot do anything about Washington’s daily temperature on Jan. 21.”
Just how does one affect something that’s not necessarily happening but is “projected” to happen? Does far-reaching government policy change the thing or the projection of the thing? For Obama and his fans, there’s no difference. He said it and that’s all that matters.
Moses never made it to the promised land. Matt Damon’s movie “Promised Land” hasn’t crossed the river into profitability. In fact, it’s going further into the wildnerness by the day.
On its third weekend of release, this movie designed to raise awareness about hydraulic fracturing averaged only $774 per screen. By contrast, “Argo” averaged $2,021 per screen even though it’s been out for 14 weeks.
“Promised Land” has grossed less than $7 million to date, which is less than half of what it cost to make the movie. And that figure doesn’t include extensive marketing costs. No doubt, Damon won’t express regret for doing this regrettable movie and it won’t cost him more than money.
One of the Ten Commandments of Hollywood is to sometimes mix social awareness with all the big-budget movies whose characters ignore that “Thou Shalt Not Kill” thing.
Any kid using the excuse that the Mayan calendar “ate my homework” has lost his leverage. The world didn’t end on 12/21/12, but things are getting curiouser as what was supposed to be mankind’s last year on all calendars trickles to an end.
The pope is now tweeting. The archbishops of Canterbury and York tweeted their Yuletide sermons. And the queen of England gave her Christmas message in 3D.
Pope Benedict XVI’s first use of Twitter (he’s @Pontifex in the tweet world) went out on Dec. 12. Since Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters, full sermons can’t go in one tweet. At least the subject is serious, unlike many tweets.
A 2009 analysis by a market research firm showed that more than 40 percent of tweets can be described as “pointless babble.” Another 10 percent were either self-promotion or spam.
Hard to say in what category to place the millions of tweets about the Last Day on Earth that turned out to be just another Friday.
Oklahoma City weather forecasters are generally quite accurate when tracking the paths of tornadoes, or predicting the likelihood that developing storms will produce twisters. But their success rate seems to take a hit when winter arrives.
At midday Monday, we were warned (and warned and warned) that Oklahoma City would get 6-8 inches of snow, and perhaps more in pockets, by the end of Christmas Day. Instead we wound up with a dusting as the heaviest snowfall fell farther to the south.
How refreshing it would be to every once in a while hear a forecaster put it this way when dealing with the likelihood and location of winter precip: “The truth is, we’re really not sure what’s going to happen, because we’re dealing with Mother Nature.”
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s staff is looking for reasons not to disclose how Fallin made the decision to return a $54 million federal grant last year after originally accepting it. Right or wrong, such maneuvering leaves the impression she has something to hide.
The Oklahoman sought emails from the governor’s office through an open records request. Fallin’s legal counsel rejected the request, citing executive privilege and attorney-client privilege. He said releasing such emails would hinder the ability of policymakers to have productive internal discussions.
But an expert in Oklahoma’s open records laws says once a personal note or memo becomes a recorded conversation or directive, it isn’t personal anymore. And executive privilege isn’t an exemption under Oklahoma law.
A 2009 opinion from the Oklahoma attorney general’s office was clear: “Emails, text messages, and other electronic communications made or received in connection with the transaction of public business, the expenditure of public funds or the administration of public property, are subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act.”
Fallin and legislative leaders accepted the $54 million grant to establish a federal health care exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act. Only after getting blowback from fellow Republicans did Fallin do an about-face.
The taxpayers who paid for the grant and who would have used the exchange deserve to know more about what went down.
The Oklahoma Policy Institute tilts leftward when the discussion involves spending of taxpayer dollars. But two new online databases compiled by OK Policy play it down the middle.
One database contains state- and county-level statistics covering such things as median personal income, crime rates, high school graduation rates and median cost to rent a home.
“Anyone interested in reliable, easy-to-use state and local data can access it here,” the think tank says.
The other database offers county “fact sheets” that include access to key demographic, social and economic indicators.
Both sites are easy to navigate and loaded with helpful information. They can be found by clicking on the “Fact Sheets & Issue Briefs” tab at okpolicy.org.
Oklahoma City Councilman Ed Shadid says we twisted his words when we wrote that he’s convinced his late cousin, New York Times journalist Anthony Shadid, didn’t die in Syria of an asthma attack but instead was killed. If so, that’s our mistake.
We wrote about it after a story in The Oklahoman about a speech by Shadid last week at a convention in Washington, D.C. There, Shadid said Anthony had called his wife before leaving for Syria and told her that, “If anything happens to me, I want the world to know The New York Times killed me.”
Councilman Shadid seems consumed by his cousin’s death. He had alluded to the manner of death at Anthony Shadid’s memorial service, and again in April when Anthony was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.
The councilman says “prudent, industry-wide precautions are needed for foreign correspondents.” We’re not sure what those would be, but feel certain that if Anthony Shadid, a Pulitzer Prize winner and greatly respected journalist, had wanted off his beat, all he would have had to do is say the word.
Our main point remains: Ed Shadid should honor the wishes of Anthony’s widow, Nada Bakri, who after the D.C. speech posted this on her Twitter account: “I do not approve of and will not be a part of any public discussion of Anthony’s passing. It does nothing but sadden Anthony’s children to have to endure repeated public discussion of the circumstances of their father’s death.”
Oklahoma City Councilman Ed Shadid is convinced his cousin, the late New York Times journalist Anthony Shadid, didn’t die of an asthma attack while reporting in Syria this year but instead was killed. Ed Shadid raised this issue again last weekend at a convention in Washington, D.C., saying Anthony called his wife before leaving for Syria and told her that, “If anything happens to me, I want the world to know The New York Times killed me.” Shadid had alluded to the manner of death at his cousin’s memorial service, and again in April when Anthony was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. The councilman should heed the plea of Shadid’s widow, Nada Bakri. “I do not approve of and will not be a part of any public discussion of Anthony’s passing,” she said on her Twitter account. “It does nothing but sadden Anthony’s children to have to endure repeated public discussion of the circumstances of their father’s death.”