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The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Archive for May 29th, 2011

Attention Journalism Students Do Not Make a Mistake Like This

Posted by iusbvision on May 29, 2011

Always remember to double check the spellings of names and be SURE to double check all stats and numbers with a second source. Remember figures don’t lie but liars figure as they say. If you just take a single sources word for a key statistic in the story you may end up with egg on your face.

Washington Post:

Moonlighting blamed for air controller fatigue

By Ashley Halsey III, Published: May 24

Young air traffic controllers who make up almost a third of the workforce have had to work two or three jobs to compensate for a 30 percent wage cut imposed during the Bush administration, the head of their union told a Senate committee Tuesday.

Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told the subcommittee on aviation that wages have improved under a new contract signed 18 months ago, but many young controllers continue to hold more than one job.

“That’s asking for trouble,” Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) responded. “How do you make the case that that doesn’t cause fatigue and poor judgment?”

NATCA spokesman Doug Church said entry-level wages were cut to about $30,000 in some parts of the country in 2006. He said some local controllers began waiting tables at the Leesburg Applebee’s near Dulles International Airport. Under the new contract, he said new controllers start at about $45,000.

The number of recorded controller errors spiked by 53 percent in fiscal 2010, and after an overnight controller supervisor was caught sleeping in the tower at Reagan National Airport this year the Federal Aviation Administration was stung by an embarrassing series of sleeping controller incidents.

The subcommittee Tuesday sought explanations from Rinaldi, FAA administrator Randy Babbitt, U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III and Greg Belenky, a sleep expert from Washington State University.

They got sharply different perspectives from Babbitt and Scovel, who has been asked by the committee to investigate problems in the air traffic control system.

Babbitt expressed determination to reduce errors while underscoring the unparalleled air safety record in the past decade, which has not seen a single major commercial airline crash. He pointed out that the vast majority of controller errors posed little genuine risk to passengers, and said the increase in recorded errors was largely due to more accurate technology and a system that encourages controllers to report their mistakes in return for a promise they will not be punished.

Did you read that very carefully? Good work. What is the narrative of this story? The story is that the union believes that there are more air traffic controller errors because they are paid so poorly (30-45K) that they must take second jobs to make ends meet. The FAA Committee says that errors are just being reported more accurately because of the new error reporting system that is in place.

Now let us look at the story critically. We know that most readers will not get passed the 5th or 6th paragraph in a story unless it greatly interests them. With that said the narrative becomes more clear “Government employees are underpaid and the union is struggling to help them and as a result of the inferior pay lives may be lost.”

The prudent reporter in Washington DC would know that the government union is not so weak as to not be able to negotiate a decent wage. Washington in general does not work that way for government employees which tend to be paid rather well. You can see that we only have one source for the 30-45k pay figure. What would we learn by checking that number from official sources?

Here is a government job posting to hire a citizen to become an air traffic controller which was found in mere moments on the internet. This is an official government web site:

http://jobview.usajobs.gov/GetJob.aspx?JobID=99420536&JobTitle=Air+Traffic+Control+Specialist&jbf574=TD

As you can see the pay range starts at $113,000. Now that we have a rather glaring discrepancy we should look further. A trip to the Bureau of Labor Statistics will tell us what most any government employee makes:

http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos108.htm

Air traffic controllers earn relatively high pay and have good benefits. Median annual wages of air traffic controllers in May 2008 were $111,870. The middle 50 percent earned between $71,050 and $143,780. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $45,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $161,010. The average annual salary, excluding overtime earnings, for air traffic controllers in the Federal Government—which employs 90 percent of all controllers—was $109,218 in March 2009.

They also receive vacations, sick days, and insurance.

The average salary is 109K plus benefits and according to the BLS web site the bigger the airport the larger the pay. Only 10% make near the $45k number mentioned and as the pay scale explains, this would be the most out of the way airports that only occasionally see traffic. No where is 30K even mentioned.

It is safe to conclude that the union representative gave the Washington Post reporter a sizable dose of spin. It is certainly safe to say that a false picture was created. Anyone with access to the internet could see that the story has a major problem in mere moments. The “Line Editor” at the Washington Post should have checked this number as well, as that is a primary responsibility of a “Line Editor”. Now the paper as an institution is starting to look pretty flimsy.

This reporter, Ashley Halsey III, compounded his mistake with a rather large blunder. A long time respected Washington intellectual noticed this discrepency and was kind enough to drop the reporter a note about the error. In response to an official source showing the air traffic controller pay scale the reporter wrote back:

“Why do you assume the website is correct?”

The real question is, why did the reporter assume the union representative gave a number that was representative of most air traffic controllers in the face of a .gov official source? It seems clear that the reporter responded with a rather flippant and elitist attitude.

Unfortunately for the reporter the Washington intellectual is a committee  member of an important press organization. The Washington intellectual pointed out that this is not the first time Ashley Halsey III had a problem.

Posted in Chuck Norton, Click & Learn | Leave a Comment »

City of Charlotte fines church $1400 for pruning their own trees – UPDATE: Fine may be as high as $4,000

Posted by iusbvision on May 29, 2011

Add Charlotte N.C. on the list of towns I will go out of my way not to spend a penny in. This is why once Obama and these Alinsky Democrats are put out of power the TEA Party need to turn it’s focus on local government.

Originally it was reported that the fine was $1400, now it may be as high as $4,000.

Charlotte Observer:

Every two to three years, Eddie Sales trims and prunes the crape myrtles at his church, Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church.

But this year, the city of Charlotte cited the church for improperly pruning its trees.

“We always keep our trees trimmed back because you don’t want to worry about them hanging down in the way,” said Sales, a church member.

The church was fined $100 per branch cut for excessive pruning, bringing the violation to $4,000.

“I just couldn’t believe it when I heard about it,” Sales said. “We trim our trees back every three years all over our property, and this is the first time we have been fined.”

The fine will be dropped if the church replaces each of the improperly pruned trees, said Tom Johnson, senior urban forester for city of Charlotte Land Development Division.

“When they are nonrepairable, when they have been pruned beyond repair, we will ask them to be replaced,” Johnson said. “We do that for a number of reasons but mainly because they are going to come back unhealthy and create a dangerous situation down the road.”

Except these trees are not unhealthy and are pruned very nicely as evidenced by the picture:

Posted in Chuck Norton, Government Gone Wild, Is the cost of government high enough yet? | Leave a Comment »

Bigoted, Unhinged School Administrators in Plano Texas Get Themselves Sued

Posted by iusbvision on May 29, 2011

Via National Review:

It’s known as the candy-cane case. And it’s all about religious discrimination.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments today in Morgan v. Swanson. The case demonstrates just how badly political correctness has corrupted our public schools and illustrates the extremes to which radical school administrators will go to impose their ideological, anti-religious views on our children.

The lawsuit was filed by the families of several elementary-school students in Plano, Texas. The suit states that, although the schools hold birthday and “winter break” parties, no Christmas parties are allowed. Moreover, the schools ban all “references to and symbols of the Christian religion and the celebration of the Christian religious holiday, Christmas,” at the winter-break parties. Even “red and green Christmas colors” are banned. And students were explicitly instructed “not to write ‘Merry Christmas’ on greeting cards sent to United States soldiers [or to retirement homes] because that phrase might be offensive.”

Apparently the schools never considered that such rigorous censorship might be offensive. Indeed, they went further. Students were allowed to exchange gift bags at the winter-break parties. However, the suit alleges, “students and parents [were] interrogated by school officials . . . as to whether or not the contents of their gift or ‘goodie’ bags . . . contain any religious viewpoint, religious references or religious message.” If they did, the bags were confiscated by school officials.

One student’s bags were seized because they contained pencils inscribed with the phrase “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” Another student was banned from giving his friends candy-cane-shaped pens with a laminated card entitled the “Legend of the Candy Cane,” which explained the Christian origin of candy canes. Another student, “during noncurriculum times and with no material and substantial disruption to the operations of the school,” was giving her friends tickets to a free Christian drama production at her church. Principal Jackie Bomchill ordered the tickets confiscated and destroyed because they “expressed a ‘religious’ viewpoint.”

One student’s mother asked for a meeting with Bomchill to get prior approval for her daughter to give her friends two pencils at her own birthday party during lunch recess, one inscribed with the word “moon” and the other with the phrase “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” Instead of engaging in a calm discussion, the principal handed the mother a letter threatening that “law enforcement officials” would be called to arrest her and told her that the Jesus pencils could only be distributed “outside of the school building.” However, when the daughter attempted to do just that, outside of the school building, Bomchill grabbed her, took the pencils, and berated her. Bomchill told the mother her daughter would be “kicked out of school” if she made any further attempts to distribute religious items. School officials even called the police, who pulled over the mother on her way home.

Since these events, the school district and the principals have only compounded their errors. Rather than acknowledge that they made a mistake, apologize, and change their discriminatory policies, they have spent over a million taxpayer dollars fighting this lawsuit all the way up to the federal appeals court. In fact, they claim that they did nothing wrong and should be granted “qualified immunity” because “the First Amendment does not apply to elementary school students” and the “Constitution does not prohibit viewpoint discrimination against religious speech in elementary schools.” And these are the people teaching civics to our children!

As a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit wrote in its review of the case, “It has been clear for over half a century that the First Amendment protects elementary school students from religious-viewpoint discrimination.” This issue was decided in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, a 1943 decision of the Supreme Court. The Court recognized that school officials are subject to the Constitution and that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment is no exception. Students do not “shed their constitutional right to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” As the Court pointed out in Barnette, the fact that school officials “are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes.”

The Texas school district has tried to argue that the Barnette decision really doesn’t say what it says, or that it doesn’t really apply to elementary schools because supposedly there is no evidence that the plaintiffs in that case were elementary-school students. In a delicious irony, former U.S. solicitor general Ken Starr has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Barnette sisters, the plaintiffs in the 1943 case.

The two sisters, now in their seventies, were elementary-school students in West Virginia at the time. As practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses, they believed that pledging allegiance to the flag was a form of prohibited idol worship. After declining to participate in that ceremony, they were expelled from school. The sisters’ family took their challenge all the way to the Supreme Court and won. As their amicus brief says, the Plano school district is trying to “unravel decades of clearly established law” and to “unwisely turn back the clock to an era in this nation’s history when religious bigotry was often tolerated in the public schools.”

What is worrisome about this case is that the Fifth Circuit granted en banc review after its own three-judge panel clearly reached the correct decision when it ruled against the school district and these intolerant principals. We may hope that the entire court will not overturn this panel decision or grant immunity to the school officials for their biased and inequitable behavior. This case is a clear example of how the extreme liberal view that nothing may be said or done that could somehow, possibly “offend” anyone leads to gutting the First Amendment and destroying our free-speech rights.

Posted in Academic Misconduct, Campus Freedom, Indoctrination & Censorship, Chuck Norton, Government Gone Wild, Leftist Hate in Action, Stuck on Stupid | Leave a Comment »

Secularist on “Let’s Blame the Jews” Nonsense

Posted by iusbvision on May 29, 2011

Posted in Chuck Norton, Culture War, Israel | Leave a Comment »