G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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1. Yet another case in which Benjamin Crump is involved that is starting to look more and more like a lie. A former leader of the Valdosta, Georgia NAACP decided to investigate the death of Kendrick Johnson, the kid found rolled up in a wrestling mat at Valdosta High School. At the very least, the woman independently investigating this found that the complaints from the kid’s parents, their lawyer and Ben Crump that police and the school were “stonewalling” were unfounded. From the article:
Web addresses to donation sites were given during the call and people were urged to send money to the family so they could fund the legal fights, but as far as Touchton is concerned, the information they were asking for had already been released.
The investigator said she’s received threats for not playing for her pre-assigned team. If the allegations of falsehoods are true, this now makes Ben Crump an accomplice to four civil rights case lies: Martin Lee Anderson, Trayvon Martin, Marco McMillian, and Kendrick Johnson. When will he ever be right, and why is he always wrong?
2. We’re at the point where it’s OK to openly talk about how the President has direct influence on columns written by opinion journalists. This is a taunt – the powers that be are showing us their incestuousness and telling us that we’re not going to do anything about it.
3. An article praising retired basketball player Allen Iverson for his countercultural heroism.
Taken together, our findings suggest the generous extensions to paid leave were costly, had no measurable effect on outcomes and regressive redistribution properties. In a time of harsh budget realities, our findings have important implications for countries that are considering future expansions or contractions in the duration of paid leave.
5. Woman conducts experiment to show how scared people are to offend Muslims. (h/t JayMan)
6. Interesting article on the family structure of NBA players. The average black NBA player is less likely to have been born to a single mother and in poverty than the average black person. Noncognitive skills and height are two explanations for this difference.
7. A true feminist argument: Let men choose whether or not to be fathers both emotionally and financially.
For the morning crowd, our effort to get to the bottom of the Red Lobster receipt ordeal has come to fruition. Even though handwriting analysis isn’t smoking gun proof, having two analyses of handwriting samples from both parties involved is more data than we’d otherwise have. Take these pieces of information along with Devin Barnes’s denial that he wrote “nigger” on Toni Jenkins’s receipt and also factor in that Jenkins is saying that she now believes Barnes when he says he didn’t write the word, and we have a pretty solid idea of what’s going on.
Jenkins said she felt bad for Barnes since he’s now received threats and such. When I asked her if she’d then offer up half of her $11,000 cash gift to Barnes since he didn’t do anything wrong she said that she wished she could split the money but that she’d spent it all on a car. I didn’t follow up and ask her about selling the vehicle.
I really took interest in the Zimmerman case after an article published at the Orlando Sentinel cited two voice forensics experts who claimed that George Zimmerman was not the person screaming on the infamous 911 phone call. Besides my (and many others’) immediate skepticism that it’s hard to compare a scream to a normal voice, I also thought that comparing only one normal voice sample from Zimmerman — and not one from Martin because there was no known normal voice sample from him at the time — that a crappy piece of software like the one used in the voice analysis would only naturally reject Zimmerman’s voice as a match. A crappy piece of software would probably incorrectly reject a lot of voices, but there would be a lot of doofuses who wouldn’t think about that limitation of the inquiry. What I’m getting as is that it’s good to at least try to analyze two normal exemplars — such as the ‘normal’ handwriting of both Jenkins and Barnes — rather than just compare that of Barnes to the receipt. I’m not making this argument to defend my article — it is what it is; as mentioned, there’s still some very slight room to doubt that Jenkins wrote “nigger” — but rather because I’m still fascinated by the limitations of that Orlando Sentinel article.
In my opinion, the worst player in this saga is, without a doubt, Red Lobster. I hold back from saying that Jenkins is the worst player without a doubt because of that tiny possibility that she’s not lying either. But Red Lobster is a different type of player here. They should have doubt of some sort too — they don’t have to believe Barnes all the way, but they shouldn’t automatically believe Jenkins all the way. But they clearly support Jenkins all the way and therefore blame Barnes entirely which would be a huge error if consumers actually cared.
1. Anatomy of the Hoax, a piece I wrote for the new site ‘The Federalist’. It focuses heavily on an article from Stephanie Mencimer written for Washington Monthly about the false rape claim made by Jamie Leigh Jones. Jones made the media rounds for several years trying to sell her story that she was gang-raped in Iraq while working as a contractor for the infamous Kellogg, Brown, and Root. I remember watching a documentary which featured her story. But it was made up. Mencimer’s piece is interesting because, as a Mother Jones writer, she came from the side that usually won’t admit when it is snookered by these types of stories. Compare Mencimer to Amanda Marcotte for instance. More enlightening than Mencimer’s documentation of Jones’s lies is emphasis on how the mainstream media was much like a turtle shrinking back into its shell when the Jones story became inconvenient for them. Mencimer mentions ABC News’s Brian Ross – the guy who first blamed the Tea Party for the Aurora theater shooting.
Brian Ross, who scored the first on-air interview with Jones back in 2007, and whose exposé prompted Congress to act, referred my requests for an interview to a flack for ABC News, who called to ask what I was writing about and then never answered a single question. Rachel Maddow, who essentially used Jones’s story to accuse thirty Republican senators of being rape apologists, never responded to repeated requests for comment. Only the Houston Chronicle, which failed to cover more than a day or two of the sensational trial in its own backyard, went back a few months later to revisit the verdict with a serious story.
Without extensive media scrutiny of what came out during the trial, Jones’s version of her story has retained significant staying power.
Check out the piece at ‘The Federalist’ and ‘like’ and ‘tweet’ it if you care to. And read Mencimer’s piece as well.
2. Obama’s boredom.
3. Photographs a woman took of her street harassers. One sentence: “Price moved to Philadelphia in 2009 from Colorado and noticed for the first time that she was getting catcalled.”
Update II: I hit the needed amount. Some regular and generous supporters and some new ones. Thank you as always, and look for a story soon.
Update: We’re getting pretty close to the goal for this mini-project. I’ve also obtained some useful commentary from Jenkins if and when a piece is able to be put together.
Here’s a mini-Kickstarter project some of you might be interested in. I’ve contacted a forensic handwriting expert who says that for $295 he will analyze and compare the handwriting of Toni Jenkins to the Red Lobster receipt.
I’m putting up the Donate button, and if I can raise $200, I’ll pay for the rest myself. If I get donations up to the $295 mark I’ll use that to pay for the analysis, but I won’t take any more than that. In the name of transparency I’ll take screenshots (with donor information redacted) of my PayPal account to show that I’m not using this as a way to earn extra dough.
I don’t think that a handwriting analysis is the end-all-be-all of this story. Whatever the analyst determines is not definitive proof of who wrote what, but it does give us something to work on. It’s a he-said-she-said so every other piece of analyzed evidence is gravy – it’s something we didn’t have before.
An Obamacare ‘navigator’ who works for a community organizing outfit and is also very active in pro-immigration rallies who also was part of a massive group of community organizers who stormed the property of the Kansas Secretary of State earlier this year. One has to wonder who she’ll help her ‘customers’ navigate the Obamacare system.
A couple of more samples to compare that Red Lobster receipt. I did ask the handwriting analyst if he’d be able to analyze a handwriting sample from the waitress which was found on her Facebook page, but he said that the sample wasn’t sufficient for a proper objective analysis. Below the side-by-side pictures is a hand-written note from Devin Barnes denying writing “Nigger” on the receipt. I encourage readers to compare these samples with an open mind.
Handwriting analysis adds another layer of intrigue to the story of a man accused of leaving a racist message on a receipt at a Tennessee restaurant last month.
Toni Christina Jenkins, a server at a Red Lobster in Franklin, Tennessee, posted a picture on her Facebook page of a receipt with the word “none” written in the area usually reserved for a tip. Below that, the word “Nigger” was scrawled.
The receipt clearly showed the name of the customer, Devin Barnes, who is white. Jenkins, who is black, said that she was not aware that Barnes’ name was shown on the receipt and posted it online to make a point about racism, not to target Barnes.
But Barnes, 21, denied writing the derogatory word on the receipt.
“I do not approve of the use of that type of talk, not now or ever,” Barnes wrote in a note shortly after the incident.
He said that while he and his wife were dining at the restaurant something came up causing the couple to request having their order boxed up “to go”. He said that nothing was wrong with the service provided by Jenkins and that she was very nice.
Barnes acknowledges that he left Jenkins no tip and only wrote the word “none” and signed his name to the receipt. But he maintained that he didn’t write the racist word.
“I’m not going to point the finger at nobody. I know for a fact me and my wife didn’t do it,” Barnes told Nashville’s NBC affiliate WSMV.
The story went viral. The New York Daily News, Gawker, Salon, the Huffington Post, the Grio, and many other outlets reported Jenkins’ racist encounter. The 19 year-old Belmont University nursing student received an outpouring of support including a ‘tip’ of almost $11,000 from an online fundraising effort called ‘Tips for Toni’.
Jenkins also received criticism from those who claimed she fabricated the story.
Barnes said that he received threats.
“It’s been horrific. I mean, I just have been getting all these threats and everything,” Barnes told WSMV.
Now, one handwriting analyst has determined that it’s unlikely Barnes wrote the word.
Barnes’ attorney and pastor, Richard Dugger, hired Thomas Vastrick, an independent handwriting expert who has worked as a specialist for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, to compare the receipt to writing samples provided by Barnes and his wife.
Dugger shared his results with me.
Vastrick determined that it was “more likely than not” that whoever wrote “none” was not the same person who wrote the racist word:
“There is evidence to indicate that Devin Barnes (K-1) did not write the Total entry on Exhibit Q-1. No significant handwriting characteristic similarities were noted between the questioned Total entry on Exhibit Q-1 and a submitted known Devin Barnes (K-1) specimen.”
Vastrick noted in his analysis that one segment of the questioned entry “bears evidence of either hesitation or pen lift and replacement.”
I reached out to Vastrick for more clarification. He responded: “I had the advantage in this examination of having the same letter twice (g). It was noted that both were written rapidly and the design features were consistent between them. This provided significant evidence that, at the very least, this portion of the questioned entry was written in the person’s normal handwriting and they were characteristically different from that of the Barnes’ writings.”
Vastrick determined that Barnes’ wife also likely did not scribble the questionable word.
The website Addictinginfo.org helped raise nearly $11,000 for Jenkins.
“[We] thought it might be nice to see if we could get Christina the tip she was denied while sending a big “Screw You!” to the kind of lowlifes that find this sort racist slur funny,” wrote Addictinginfo’s Justin Rosario.
Jenkins purchased a car with the windfall.
The news of Jenkins’ large endowment was also reported by several news outlets. Gawker again covered the story. HuffPo as well. ABC News reported on the story. UPI. Jenkins also appeared on the popular Tom Joyner radio show to discuss her good fortune. None of those outlets even questioned whether it was possible that Jenkins had fabricated the story. Not that the handwriting analysis is definitive proof that she did, but it is a substantive fact in the story. None of those outlets mentioned the handwriting analysis.
While Jenkins received support from many after posting the picture of the receipt, others quickly questioned whether she was being truthful.
Some internet users argued that the handwriting of the two words attributed to Barnes appeared not to be written in the same style.
Though both of the words allegedly written by Barnes began with “n”, one was capitalized while the other was not, internet sleuths pointed out. Many saw that as evidence that Jenkins wrote the word herself.
Total Expose Public Relations which represents Jenkins said that they have no comment on the handwriting analysis. Jenkins denied writing on the receipt herself, both before and after the analysis was conducted.
“I could never do something so hateful or hurtful and preposterous,” Jenkins told AddictingInfo in an interview.
Dugger told me in an interview last month that the Red Lobster restaurant offered his client a free meal after the incident. The offer was denied and Dugger has threatened further legal action. Dugger also told me that if someone falsely accuses another person of racism them that’s racism itself.
Jenkins was suspended with pay from Red Lobster shortly after posting the picture of the receipt, which is against company policy. Jenkins was reinstated before missing a scheduled shift.
Mike Bernstein, director of media and communications for Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Red Lobster, told me in an email last month before the latest development that the company had “extended [Jenkins] a high degree of respect and caring for what has happened.”
“No one should have to endure what our employee went through last weekend,” said Bernstein at the time.
Reached after the handwriting analysis results Bernstein said the company was standing by their position on the matter.
Commentary: If Devin Barnes wrote “Nigger” on that receipt then Bernstein has absolutely taken the correct stance. I’m #1 advocate for company’s backing up their employees. But employees aren’t always in the right, and there have been way too many hoaxes, not only of restaurant receipts but also in other arenas, for a person’s word to be taken immediately as Gospel in these matters. But Red Lobster did make the correct business decision by immediately throwing Barnes under the bus. The company can’t alienate its white customer base. Whites don’t care enough about whether or not Barnes was mistreated to put up much of a fight. But if Jenkins was mistreated — and the outrage-bots would think she was mistreated if she was fired regardless of if she wrote the word in her own hand or not — they’d absolutely lose customers. Even if they did the right thing by firing Jenkins (if she wrote the word), the incident would go in the company’s “permanent racism file”. The incident would sit back there in the recesses of the collective customers’ minds and be drawn out if another sketchy incident did in fact occur down the road.
Vastrick was hired by Dugger to conduct this analysis. So it would only be fair to say that the results aren’t definitive. But the analysis is something that Jenkins and Red Lobster should have to contend with, if Barnes wants to take legal action.
1. The Obamacare website isn’t working partly because it was designed to shield the true cost of health coverage plans. Instead of giving immediate price quotes like a private insurance website would do, the Obamacare sites first try to figure out whether or not an applicant is eligible for a subsidy. This creates a bottleneck and gums up the system. This is only the beginning.
2. Take the MTV show ‘Catfish’ with a grain of salt, but a woman who posed as a man was bragging about using a strap-on dildo to have sex with women. The kicker: the women didn’t know that the poser was actually a girl. Sounds a little rapey to me.
3. Unions flexing their political muscle to gain exemptions from Obamacare tax.
4. Think Progress worker Zack Beuchamp asks “In what world has caring more about “my people” than “those people” been a net good for the world rather than a historic cause of atrocity?” I suppose Beauchamp cries at strangers’ funerals and would gain no more joy from his own children (in the event he ever has any) versus other peoples’ kids.
5. This is the average American man’s body. On the one hand this is interesting. On the other hand, imagine focusing on the average American woman’s body.
6. The exaggeration of the cyberbullying problem. What’s the end game?
1. Some details on the case of the death of NFL star Adrian Peterson’s son:
Adrian Peterson only recently learned he was the father of a 2-year-old boy in South Dakota … and met him for the first time Thursday … while the boy was on life support, TMZ has learned.
Multiple sources connected to the situation tell us … roughly 2-3 months ago, the mother of the child had a paternity test done with an ex she suspected to be the father, in an effort to collect child support from him.
But the test turned up negative, so the woman went to Adrian … with whom she had a sexual encounter several years ago.
2. In the first six months of this year every victim of K-9 bites in L.A. was black or Hispanic. I think there was a movie about this:
4. Duke lacrosse players won’t get a civil appeal heard in court. I didn’t know any part of this case was still being tried.
5. Schools in California opening up access to AP classes for all students regardless of preparation. I thought alchemy was quackery?
AlterNet reposted a piece from the ambiguously lame due Mark Ames and Yasha Levine about Radley Balko, a libertarian who now focuses mostly on justice/prison/police reform. Ames and Levine wanted to inform unsuspecting social justice advocates who might nod their heads to a lot of Balko’s work on the militarized police that he in fact is not ideologically pure. Balko pushed back on the mindlessness of the Left who focused on ‘stand your ground’ in the Zimmerman case and he’s a small government libertarian all the way down to his desire to revamp Social Security. In other words, he’s Satan.
Mini-McCarthyites Ames and Levine couldn’t grasp the possibility that someone who opposes the police state as strongly as Balko does might also not think that Zimmerman was a murderer (which Ames/Levine repeatedly call Zimmerman in their piece, completely disregarding the jury which not only returned ‘not guilty’ on murder but also on the lesser manslaughter charge – Russia must have made a really strong impression on these two).
The entire piece and all of the cherry-picked grievances Ames and Levine have with Balko stem from his past work under the Koch umbrella. That relationship is what sticks most in their craw. And to extend that pain to readers, they added context in the form of loose assertions of classism and racism. Ames/Levin jump on Balko’s position on the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal. “Later in 2003, Balko blamed the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal at the New York Times on affirmative action,” wrote Ames/Levine.
Balko wrote at the time:
“Nearly everything about the Blair case came about because of affirmative action, or at least from the entitlement mindset that comes with support for affirmative action.”
“What’s unfortunate — and what I’m loathe to admit — was my reaction when, a couple of days later, I saw [Jayson Blair’s] picture. ‘He’s black,’ I said as a foul thought emerged from the darker corners of my thinking: ‘probably an affirmative action case.’
“As it turns out, my first, more shameful conclusion was correct. Race had everything to do with this story — and not because bigoted people chose to exploit Blair to further some hateful agenda. Rather, it’s because open-minded, well-intentioned people used Blair’s race to put him in a position he wasn’t professionally prepared for. And in so doing, those open-minded people lent a bit of ammunition and a small sense of validation not just to hate mongers, but to those pestering, nagging thoughts about things black and white like the one that occurred to me when I first saw Jayson Blair’s picture.”
“Balko’s disturbing views on race were not confined to his opposition to affirmative action,” wrote Ames/Levine who went on to point out that, holy shit, Radley Balko once linked to American Renaissance.
Ames and Levine cast aspersions on Balko’s opinion on the Blair fiasco but never actually looked to see if affirmative action did actually help cause it.
The strongly liberal Hendrick Herzberg wrote an essay shortly after the Blair affair and showed from within the belly of the New York Times beast that affirmative action had a strong connection to Blair and his faulty reporting which was done mostly on the Beltway sniper case. Herzberg wrote that the Blair incident was the first “deliberate journalistic misconduct on such a scale” at a major newspaper since Janet Cooke bamboozled the Washington Post in 1981. As Herzberg noted, Cooke was also black. Herzberg wrote of Blair:
And, like the Post, the Times is a socially liberal institution, owned by a public-spirited family sensitive to the imperative of racial justice. The role of race in the present fiasco is anything but clear. But the first instinct of the Time’s executives was to deny absolutely that it had played any role whatsoever. That was absurd. At the meeting, according to the Times, [New York Times executive director] Raines said, “I believe in aggressively providing hiring and career opportunities for minorities.” A moment later, he added, “Does that mean I personally favored Jayson? Not consciously. But you have a right to ask if I, as a white man from Alabama, with those convictions, gave him one more chance too many by not stopping his appointment to the sniper team. When I look into my heart for the truth of that, the answer is yes.”
So there’s that.