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Over the last few months, I've done a fair amount of defending the notion that journalists have and should be allowed to express informed, fact-based opinions on news, but Juan Williams' reaction to the firing -- sorry, "resignation" -- of the NPR news executive who fired him disproves most of it.
As quoted by Business Insider, Williams assessed National Public Radio this way during an appearance on FoxNews, his current employer:
"They have a culture there is not open to real news, that is not open to all points of view, that is not open to the real world around us and to the many different dynamics, perspectives and life stories that animate America."
Williams never said any such thing when he cashed a paycheck from National Public Radio (now "NPR"), so we can only conclude that his assessment stems not from an informed, fact-based reality, but from lingering hurt feelings about his firing in October. As a news commentator, his assessment of reality is too clouded by his opinion. Hurt feelings do not create an environment from which news insight comes and, at the end of the day, insight is a journalist's job. NPR fired Williams because it felt his feelings similarly prevented him from providing that insight and discredited the organization.
It's possible to be close to a story and have an opinion, though (and is anybody seriously doubting that in their private moments, everybody who works at NPR has an opinion on the firing of Ellen Weiss yesterday?). One need only look at -- surprise -- NPR to see how good journalism is done.
David Folkenflik, an NPR reporter, got the unenviable task of covering the story for NPR. He, unlike Williams, did a magnificent job by playing it straight and leaving his feelings out of it.
Put the two assessments (news stories) about NPR side by side, and it's easy to figure out the more trustworthy source on the subject.
Ironically, Williams refused to talk to Folkenflik for his story. Clearly NPR as a news organization was open to his point of view in covering this story. Williams wasn't. That's on him.
What caused the recent mass deaths of birds? The answer may be found in Worthington, Minnesota more than 100 years ago. It was there in March 1904, an estimated 750,000 Lapland Longspurs died on the mean streets, fields and lakes of Nobles County.
The aflockalypse is detailed in a 1907 article -- A Lapland Larkspur Tragedy -- in the Journal of Ornithology:
A Mr. Drobeck reported that on the morning following the storm he noticed lumps or balls of snow on the roof o f his barn and that when they thawed in the morning sun, they were found to contain live birds. The heads of the birds would first appear, and then, shaking off the snow, they would sit for a time in the sun drying and preening themselves and then fly off. He caught several and took them in the house and it was two of these birds that Dr. Dart saw in his window garden a week later. This curious statement was corroborated by a second observer. Evidently the birds had become wet and snow-laden and falling into the sticky snow had by their efforts rolled themselves in to snow-balls.
Dr. Manson and Dr. Humlston, two physicians of Worthington, gave their testimony along the same lines as above. The former added that he noticed that many of the birds had entered the snoxv head foremost as though they had pitched down head-long rather
than as though they had fluttered down as they probably would have done after striking some obstacle. When these birds were picked out of the snow it was found that the snow was stained with blood that had oozed from their mouths.
Worthington's electric streets lights were initially suspected, but birds were dropping in nearby Slayton, too. There were only gas lamplights in Slayton, where every family in the town had gathered at least three dozen still-live birds.
Dead birds were also found in Luverne, Lakefield, and Pipestone.
Why? The author says all of the birds had impact injuries, leading to the theory that while migrating from Iowa north, they got confused by some snow, and then were attracted by the lights of the town.Some hit objects, some were weighted by the snow, and some just dropped dead from exhaustion. (Read the entire article here)
Fast forward to 2011. What's going on? The DiscoBlog at Discover.com takes a crack at it:
Causes ranging from UFOs, monsters (our personal favorite), fireworks, secret military testing, poison, shifting magnetic fields, and odd weather formations have been blamed for the deaths, but researchers are saying these types of die-offs are normal. It's simply a coincidence that a few big ones happened right around the new year-and once the global media started paying attention to wildlife mortality, we saw examples everywhere.
In other words: It happens all the time.
But it might be an intergalactic death ray.(2 Comments)
All of these policies raise gas prices at the pump by either: 1) decreasing the availability of domestic energy supplies, or 2) increasing regulatory costs on gasoline production.There's certainly an argument to be made that energy policy has an impact on energy prices, but this one seems particularly aimed at those who aren't interested in a more intellectual look at the complicated world of commodities.
President George Bush was no saint when it came to free market energy policies either. He mandated the use of ethanol, put off opening up the Outer Continental Shelf till the end of his second term, supported the expansion of renewable energy tax credits, tried to subsidize the nuclear power industry, and caved into environmental pressure by allowing the EPA to begin the global warming regulation process.
|Dates of recession||Price at beginning||Price at end||Difference|
|12/07 - 6/09||$3.06||$2.34||- 24%|
|3/01 - 11/01||$1.38||$1.12||-19%|
|7/90 - 3/91||$1.23||$1.05||-15%|
|President||Price at beginning of term||Price at end of term||Difference|
|Bush - 2nd term||$1.83||$2.70||+48%|
|Bush - 1st term||$1.45||$1.83||+26%|
|Clinton - 2nd term||$1.23||$1.45||+18%|
|Clinton - 1st term||$1.05||$1.23||+17%|
|Obama - 1st term*||$2.70||$3.03||+12%|