The Media – do they aid and abet criminals?

With what happened at Virginia Tech leaves our nation not only in shock but with a wakeup call that we aren’t as safe as we think we are whether we are a student, a mall shopper, a spectator at an event or a passenger on an airplane or bus. 

And we ask why?  Who is to blame?  I feel that can be answered in two words: The Media.  Listening to the news tonight on NBC they reported that since the horrible crime at Virginia Tech there have been 28 scare tactics that followed.  One being they were going to do better and exceed the total that was accomplished at Va Tech.  And get this, in the same breath without missing a beat he, Brian Williams, said it was all due to seeking publicity.  Gee, I wonder where they got that idea.

HELLO MEDIA, have a look in the mirror and you will have an answer.  If you weren’t so damn anxious to be the first to get news on the air regardless of what it is, regardless of how graphic the details you report and how much of the news is spent highlighting the person who did the crime that possibly it might cut down on these wannabee publicity seekers. 

Being a parent myself I can think of nothing worse than seeing the media go into so much detail about the criminal as to why, how, what type of weapon  they used, where they purchased it let alone showing videos that the criminal took for all to see.  Then start badgering the college officials as if there was something they could have done or signs they saw from his behavior that could have prevented him from doing what he did. 

Does all that matter?  Is it going to change the fact that there were 33 lives lost? Is that going to help the grieving families and friends left behind to know all about the one who did this hanieous crime?  I think the answer is obvious. 

This is information that the public can and should be spared.  Not in this case but in some where a bomb was involved, they have shown how it was made, the materials used to make it and the website where one can get the information on how to build one.  They are just handing over information to some who might not even have thought about doing anything until the idea was planted. 

Until the media learns to separate what should and should not be reported we will continue to have Virginia Techs and Columbines. 


VaTech video tributes on the sidebar

4/20/07 – I’ve updated this post by adding some tributes on the sidebar and if you have time you might want to check them out. I’ve never seen so many tributes when I came across these.

I hope they touch you as much as they did me.

Thanks you for stopping by !!

VTech – The Victims, their pictures

What occurred on 4/16/2007 was the worst tragedy one could have ever imagine happen, happened. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those whose life’s were lost as well as to the whole Virginia Tech student body.

The Victims:
An interactive site where you can click on any photo of all the victims to learn about the individuals who were killed in the shootings at Virginia Tech. You can also share your memories if you know someone or just leave a comment if you choose.

Very compelling!!

Source:The New York Times
Monica Evanchik, Lisa Iaboni and Tom Jackson / The New York Times


April 16, 2007

This week’s legislative idea comes from Bayport, NY.  Here is an excerpt from her letter to Congress:

“Once again, it’s tax time and as always, we owe money to the state and federal governments because I am married with no children. My husband & I have no children because we cannot afford to have children living on Long Island. But we do have 2 dogs – 2 very expensive dogs – and they are our kids.  If I should mistreat, neglect, abuse or deprive my dog of health care in any way, I can be arrested for animal cruelty. But yet, here we are, spending thousands and thousands of dollars each year giving my dogs the best care in emergency and non-emergency situations, what do we receive? My proposal is to be able to declare my dogs as dependents on my taxes at the end of the year.

“With the request of proper documentation from pet owners, I firmly believe we should propose a new law to be able to claim our dogs as dependents, whether it be for routine exams, medicines and/or emergency care. Anything would be of great assistance to pet owners.”

See the full text of the letter here 

-Tell Congress If They Should Introduce Dog Deductions
-Yes, Pets Should Be Tax Deductible Like Any Dependent
-No, Pets Should Not Be Tax Deductible Like Any Dependent

Take Action By clicking on this link at the bottom of the page there is a form with instructions on how you can take action on any of the above.

Prejudice by choice? Don Imus – was it fair?

After sitting and watching what has been happening over the last few days regarding the fate of Don Imus it makes me wonder was this prejudice by choice or loss of freedom of speech and who has the right to determine which is which. I don’t condone what Don Imus said at all but in some ways I feel this was a double edge sword. 

We are constantly crying “freedom of speech” yet there are political watchdogs sitting with baited breath waiting to pounce on any statement that can be construed as biased or prejudice so they can rush to the media, and in my opinion, set out to see how much damage they can do to one’s career.  I don’t think naming names is really necessary as we all know who they are and the list isn’t limited to two.

I read an article written by HARVEY FIERSTEIN, an actor and playwright who said, and I quote “he is a gay American and fat”.  In his article he toggles with the idea how and when one chooses to be prejudice.  I think his article is worth reading and his views definitely have merit. 

Almost every night we hear comedians poke fun at fat people, celebs in rehab, comments relating to “the gay community”.  Programs like “politically incorrect” will hash and rehash derogatory statements made by others and yet, neither the  comedians, talk show hosts, etc, lose their endorsements or sponsors.

Even recording artists can rap about anything without too much controversy, probably because you can’t you can’t understand most of what they are saying.  Some have come under scrutiny but it has to be something really controversial and media worthy and even at that a mere apology or slap on the wrist takes care of it. Being dropped from the recording industry is not a consideration, at least none that I can think of but I could be wrong, that has happened a couple of times 😉 according to my husband. 

I definitely think Imus’s comment was out of line and of poor taste but should it have cost him his job?

For those of you who are too young to remember the “Tonight Show”, before Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, the original show years ago was hosted by Jack Paar.  One night he made reference to the bathroom as a “water closet“.  Believe it or not, he was fired! 

Time growing short for Duke, a pit bull terrier, as he seeks reprieve after 3 years on death row


Denise Menendez owns Duke, who is confined to a Long Island animal shelter.

Photo credit: Kirk Condyles for The New York Times


Published: April 12, 2007

BAY SHORE, N.Y., April 11 — In legal papers filed on Wednesday in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, the conflicting portraits of the prisoner seem to describe two different individuals. He is a vicious predator with a history of assault. Or, he is the kind who would not even show his teeth if you pulled his ears. After three and a half years on doggie death row, Duke, a 5-year-old American pit bull terrier, is the subject of an unusual, last-ditch appeal of a judge’s “order of destruction” over his attacks on a neighbor dog twice in two months in 2003. His lawyer contends that Duke was wrongly convicted and harshly sentenced, based on a law that took effect on Jan. 1, 2004, two weeks after the attack, making dog-on-dog attacks subject to serious punishment. Before that, only dogs attacking humans were punished severely.

“We are running out of options,” said the lawyer, Amy Chaitoff. “And it would be a terrible injustice.”

Duke’s case has drawn considerable attention on Long Island. Dog rescue organizations staged a demonstration at Islip Town Hall in 2005, demanding that he be freed. And during a 2006 hearing, a crowd of about 60 gathered outside the courthouse to show solidarity with Duke’s owners, Denise and Chanse Menendez of Hauppauge.

But if the judges of the state Appellate Division in Brooklyn rule against him this time, Duke, who has been confined to the last cage on the east tier of Kennel No. 1 at the Town of Islip Animal Shelter here since Dec. 26, 2003, will probably soon eat his last biscuit. (His cage is adjacent to the small room where workers administer lethal injections to a dozen or so animals each week.)

In some ways, legal experts say, Duke represents a new class of death-row dog. New York is among a dozen states that have changed laws over the past 10 years to make it possible to seize dogs from their owners and order them euthanized for biting other dogs.

Ledy VanKavage, director of legislation for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the stricter provisions reflected several factors: the rising numbers of pet dogs in American households, a growing concern about highly publicized vicious dog cases, and what she called the “evolving human-animal bond.”

“The thinking goes: ‘My dog is a member of my family. If you attack my dog, you are attacking my family,’ ” she said.

But Ms. VanKavage said this was flawed logic, noting, “Dogs are predators, after all.”

The opposing view is in the papers filed on behalf of Duke’s former neighbor, Dominick Motta, who testified that on Oct. 23, 2003, Duke and his pit bull sister, Shelby, chased Mr. Motta’s bulldog, Daisy, and that Duke bit her.

After a hearing, Duke was designated a “dangerous dog” by District Court Judge Madeleine A. Fitzgibbon of Suffolk County. His owners were ordered to keep him indoors or in a specially built kennel outdoors.

When Duke got loose on Dec. 13, 2003, and again chased and bit Daisy, Mr. Motta, who then had three children ages 2 to 7, filed a follow-up complaint, which resulted in Judge Fitzgibbon’s order of destruction.

“My client did not order the dog euthanized, a judge did,” Mr. Motta’s lawyer, John L. Belford Jr. of St. James, said in an interview. “And the judge’s decision was not designed to protect my client alone.”

If Duke shares with some human death row residents the kind of mysterious personality that can look darkly dangerous to some and intriguing to others, he also shares what seems like the equanimity of one who is at peace with himself.

“Watch this, I’m going to do some things that no aggressive dog would tolerate,” said Jeff Kolbjornsen, an animal behaviorist who attended the rallies on Duke’s behalf, on a visit to the shelter the other day.

He clamped a hand over the dog’s mouth. He pushed him. He stepped on his paw, lightly. He gently slapped the dog’s head.

Duke — whose skull is about the size of a baby watermelon, whose neck is roughly as thick as a man’s thigh, and whose mouth is ear to ear — sat on his hind legs, panting, his tongue extended just past the widest part of his wide chest. He nudged and then licked Mr. Kolbjornsen’s hand.

“This is the nicest, calmest dog I have ever worked with, and I’ve been here seven years,” said Joanne Daly, an attendant at the shelter.

In the brief filed with the court on Wednesday by Ms. Chaitoff, the lawyer for Duke’s owners, affidavits from Ms. Daly and from Matt Caracciolo, the shelter supervisor, were included praising the dog’s unflappable and friendly nature.

But the main thrust of her argument is that the law under which he was prosecuted, Section 108 of the state’s Agriculture and Markets Law, which defines “a dangerous dog,” changed from the time of the attacks to the time of his trial.

In 2003, the law defined a dangerous dog as one who attacks a person or attacks certain types of service animals, like Seeing Eye dogs. It was in 2004 that the law was expanded to include “companion animals,” pets like Mr. Motta’s Daisy.

Therefore, Ms. Chaitoff said, in the eyes of the law, as well as his friends, “Duke is an innocent dog.”

Now I have to say, the pit bull is not one of my favorite breed of dogs and they do get a bad rap but I sure think “Duke” got more than he deserved. It was the judge who gave Duke the death sentence, the person whose dog he attacked had only filed a complaint with NO mention or request of having Duke euthanized.

Do you think the judge was right or wrong ordering Duke destroyed?

Texas animal shelter – dogs – tests matchmaking

How odd could it be after reading the article about the puppy abuse this article appeared the next day as a highlighted headline.  This is like having a story end with a happy ending and so nice to have a positive article on the heels of a negative one. 

The Town Lake Animal Center in Austin Texas is conducting a trial/test of matchmaking on all dogs that are considered adoptable.  So here they are trying a new approach in the adoption process and hopefully will prevent, at least I hope, less and less animals being subject to cruelty. 

This of course is just the partial story, I hope you will find it interesting enough to continue and read the rest.

New Tricks
Published: April 8, 2007

08dog_190_126.jpg“Let me know when you’re ready,” Diane Mollaghan called out as I rummaged one recent winter afternoon through the costumes and props she had stored in the back room of a run-down house trailer on the grounds of the Town Lake Animal Center in Austin. Mollaghan, a 34-year-old animal-behavior researcher and graduate student in the University of Texas’s psychology department, was waiting in the trailer’s main room beside a tan-and-brown mutt that had recently been left in the shelter’s night drop-off box with no ID tags or background-information form. Estimated by the shelter’s staff members to be a “Manchester terrier mix,” it looked like a pointy-faced Chihuahua on stilts, a creature of indeterminate origin and yet-to-be-determined disposition. That, literally, was where I was to come in.

dianemollaghan190_3.jpgDiane Mollaghan at work

All afternoon, in that continuous din of kennel-dog barking — high-pitched, autocatalytic, corrosive — I had been helping Mollaghan conduct various trait-assessment tests on some of the shelter’s recent arrivals, trying to get a fix on each animal’s temperament, measuring characteristics like sociability, playfulness, aggressiveness and fearfulness. The house trailer — situated midway between Town Lake’s western row of kennels, which hold already approved, adoptable dogs, and the compound’s eastern end, where the veterinary clinic and euthanasia rooms are — was serving as a kind of purgatorial courtroom. The dogs we gave high marks to would advance westward with a certificate of adoptability; those we didn’t rate so well would be dispatched the other way, eastward to the euthanasia room.

 As fair trials go, these were anything but, given the inherently stressful venue and the somewhat offbeat nature of the tests themselves. Indeed, many a so-called well-homed dog I’ve met might have taken my head off for some of the antics our defendants were being subjected to that afternoon. There was the “approach by angry normal person, stare, raise voice, raise hand as if to strike” test; or test No. 12, the “friendly approach by toddler doll” — a three-foot-high, raggedy-haired creature in a paw-smeared yellow taffeta dress, a figure that is still showing up in my nightmares. And there was test No. 13, the little number that I was just then donning an outsize yellow raincoat with hood and walking stick to perform for our Manchester terrier mix: the “friendly ‘strange’ person with cane, approach and pet” test.

Although the “NEW TRICKS” article is no longer available for viewing at the NY Times site you can read the interesting background on how this project came about at The University of Texas at Austin’s website.

Dr. Sam Gosling is  an assistant professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. 

Gosling, who directs the Human and Animal Personality Lab at the university, admits initially he assumed that animals did not have personalities, but he decided to put his assumption to the test. Drawing upon his background in human personality research, he applied the same methods and rigorous standards to test whether personality differences exist and can be judged in dogs. His findings showed that, indeed, dog personality traits could be identified with an impressive level of accuracy.

The above is an excerpt from an article on the university’s website.  For the complete article read: A Fetching Personality written by Michelle Bryant featured on the university’s website. 

The cute doggie graphic above by: Christina Murrey