Thursday, September 25, 2014

Conspiracy theories: Why we love ’em

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 1:02 AM


In the upcoming film Kill The Messenger, journalist Gary Webb (played by Jeremy Renner) is asked if he believes in conspiracy theories.

“I don’t believe in conspiracy theories,” Webb replies. “Conspiracies, yes. If I believe it, there’s nothing theory about it.”

Kill The Messenger is the true story of the late Gary Webb, a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News who in 1996 connected the rise of crack cocaine in America to the CIA and its ties with the contras in Nicaragua. Perhaps angry at being scooped, the establishment media — papers like the L.A. Times, New York Times and Washington Post — attacked his reporting (in some cases aided by unnamed government sources) and ultimately hounded him out of journalism.

Conspiracy theories have always been part of American politics, and they always will be, says University of Miami Professor Joseph E. Uscinski, who, along with his UM colleague Joseph M. Parent, has written the new book, American Conspiracy Theories.

And even though you may think only those on the wacko margins believe in such ideas, the numbers indicate otherwise.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The CL Intern Issue: USF ahead of the curve on sexual assault policies

With universities across the U.S. being investigated for violations, USF's programs seem prescient.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 11:14 AM

REAL PEOPLE: Members of USF’s Relationship Equality and Anti-Violence League, which hosts peer education and awareness events.
  • REAL PEOPLE: Members of USF’s Relationship Equality and Anti-Violence League, which hosts peer education and awareness events.

Colleges all across the country are taking heat for the way their administrations deal with sexual assault cases, as more and more students speak up about how such cases are handled.

In early May, the Department of Education released a list of 55 colleges that are now under investigation for potential violations of the federal anti-discrimination law under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The law prohibits gender discrimination at colleges that receive federal funding. Sexual harassment and violations are considered forms of sex discrimination, and Title IX requires colleges and universities that receive federal funds to investigate and resolve any sexual assault claims in a timely and impartial manner.

Florida State University is among the schools being investigated, following complaints over handling of the notorious Jameis Winston case. Others on the list include Vanderbilt University, Emerson College, and the University of Connecticut. Twelve more colleges were added in early July.

But where these and other schools are scrambling to update their sexual assault policies and procedures, school officials at the University of South Florida say they have been ahead of the curve for years. USF has had victim advocacy departments on campus since 1992, said Nanci Newton, director of USF’s Center for Victim Advocacy & Violence Prevention.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

ACLU says Scott administration has spent nearly 400K pushing for drug tests

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Rick Scott hasn't been that successful in getting the courts to go along with his desires to drug test welfare recipients or state workers, and his efforts have cost the state over $380,000 in the process.

Last month the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal regarding his 2011 executive offer that would have required random drug tests for as many as 85,000 state workers. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the program was too broad in scope, but did say drug testing without suspicion could be used in certain cases, such as for law enforcement officers or commercial drivers and/or pilots.

And last December a federal judge in Orlando struck down a Florida law requiring applicants for welfare benefits to undergo mandatory drug testing.The Governor is appealing that decision as well - at a cost to taxpayers.

A public records investigation by the ACLU of Florida has found that the state of Florida has spent $381,654.45 on the cases, not including staff attorneys’ salaries or court-ordered attorneys’ fees— or the costs of administering the drug testing programs in the first place.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Basketball court: Shawna Vercher vs. Tim Donaghy

A Florida House candidate’s legal battle with an infamous former NBA referee.

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 1:52 AM

Shawna Vercher. - KEVIN TIGHE
  • Kevin Tighe
  • Shawna Vercher.

In June of 2012, a Pinellas County jury deliberated for less than two hours before awarding former NBA referee Tim Donaghy $1.3 million in his civil trial against Shawna Vercher and her company, VTi Media. The jury ruled that Vercher had withheld proceeds from the sale of Donaghy’s memoir, Personal Foul, which VTi Media published. With legal fees later added on, VTi was judged to owe Donaghy $1.7 million, and Vercher herself to owe him $1.525 million. Five months later, she declared bankruptcy, and has refused to publicly comment on the case.

Until now.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ed Jany says fear of losing his job, not Times piece, is why he dropped out of the CD13 race

Posted By on Tue, May 13, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Although Ed Jany's departure from the CD13 race comes just two days after a report in the Tampa Bay Times revealed that he had inflated his education credentials, the Marine Corps Reserve colonel insists that the timing is coincidental, and that if he were a wealthy man or had a "sugar daddy" he could have stayed in the race in the uber-competitive Pinellas County Congressional District that GOP newcomer David Jolly won by less than 2 percentage points two months ago.

"They really sensationalized this thing talking about my resume," said Jany, speaking from his Bayshore Boulevard home in Tampa this afternoon a few hours after the Times' Adam Smith reported that he was leaving the race. But Jany admitted later in the conversation that it  was "irresponsible on my part for not vetting" Madison University when it came to getting a college degree. Madison has the reputation for being a diploma mill that doesn't have an actual campus or classes.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

GOP Florida Congressman Trey Radel to leave Congress after drug arrest

Posted By on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Trey Radel, the first Congressman ever arrested for possessing cocaine while in office, is resigning from Southwest Florida congressional seat today.

I can confirm he is resigning today," Greg Dolan, Radel's spokesman, said in an email to the Naples Daily News on Monday morning.

The 37-year-old freshman Republican was busted in November from buying cocaine in from an undercover federal agent in Washington D.C. and spent nearly a month in a rehabilitation facility.

Although there were a number of Republicans in Florida who called on him to resign immediately, the former radio and television personality publicly refused to consider doing so, until today. That may because the House Ethics Committee has just launched its promised investigation of the Congressman.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 1.24.14 - If pot measure is really a "plan" to help Charlie Crist, it ain't working

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 8:28 AM

Earlier this month the editors at the Tampa Tribune introduced a new look and feel to the daily paper, highlighted by a much more visually striking cover photo that dominates above the fold.

Today's edition features in living color a marijuana plant with the headline, "Blowing smoke: Pot measure called 'plan' to help Crist beat Scott," written by the great Tribune political reporter William March.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

DCCC charges David Jolly "caught in a lie" regarding off-shore oil drilling

Posted By on Mon, Jan 6, 2014 at 7:49 PM


David Jolly
  • David Jolly
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued a press release late Monday afternoon alleging that CD13 GOP candidate David Jolly was "caught in a lie" earlier today regarding his statement at a candidates forum where he denied he has lobbied on behalf of oil-drilling interests. But just like a previous charge that he lobbied for the Affordable Care Act, Jolly is denying the claim.

Jolly participated at the event hosted by Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce forum this morning with fellow Republicans Kathleen Peters and Mark Bircher. The three are on the ballot in next week's special GOP election primary to determine who will then face Democrat Alex Sink in March.

According to an account written by Adam Smith on the Tampa Bay Times Buzz Blog, Jolly called it a "complete fabrication" that he had ever lobbied for oil-drilling interests.

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