Five ideas

Sunday, April 15, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:55 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

[1] Morning mess

After an almost 40-year career, radio and cable-TV host Don Imus is out of a job. CBS Radio fired Imus on Thursday, two days after MSNBC canceled its simulcast of the “Imus in the Morning” radio program for racially charged statements the host made about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team on April 4.

MSNBC made its decision after several of its major sponsors, including General Motors and American Express, pulled their advertising from the network. In the face of criticism from black leaders and civil rights groups, including the NAACP, CBS followed suit.

Imus spent the entire week dealing with the controversy, repeatedly apologizing for his comments in numerous interviews.

He met with women from the Rutgers team privately on Thursday to extend further regret. Some people have pointed out the obvious: that Imus is just one of many television and radio hosts who sometimes cross the line in their commentary.

Who else on television and radio should be fired for making offensive remarks?

[2] Duke charges dropped

All charges have been dropped against three former Duke lacrosse players accused of sexual assault. The painful ordeal has ended, but the damage has already been done to the three men, Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans.

The major figures in the case, including Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, are being investigated and could face criminal and civil action for their handling of the woman’s complaint.

The attorney for the three men, Joe Cheshire, said in a news conference that he was angry at the situation, but relieved it was over. He blamed the media for portraying the men as criminals.

For more than a year, Durham was a media circus, overwhelmed by reporters examining issues of race, class and gender based on what some say was an assumption of guilt. The media were accused of turning Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans into representations of greater problems in Durham.

What lessons should be learned from the Duke case?

[3] Thinning troops

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, the already stressed U.S. troop level is being stretched even more.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Wednesday that the current deployment of soldiers — about 100,000 in all — would be staying for an additional three months. The extension is meant to supplement President Bush’s new strategy for victory in Iraq. The U.S. has guaranteed $1,000 for each additional month a soldier is deployed.

The troops and their families also would benefit from a guaranteed 12-month period at home between deployments, Gates said. But some Democrats don’t see it that way. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the move is “an unacceptable price for our troops and their families to pay.” Pelosi and her colleagues are worried that potential Army recruits might be turned off by the news of lengthier tours, meaning a “chilling effect” might cause a further drop in numbers.

What long-term effect will the current deployment strategy have on soldiers and military preparedness?

[4] Internet insecurity

NBC Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator” series may be effective in nabbing some Internet sex predators, but it’s easy for parents to assume that the problem doesn’t exist in their neighborhoods.

A recent meeting of The Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force helped change that misconception for some mid-Missouri parents, who gathered to learn about the dangers of online predation.

Shows such as Dateline are proof that law enforcement officers are dedicated to stopping the problem, but police say the main responsibility lies with parents to monitor their children’s actions.

Technological advances on the Internet mean children can access potentially dangerous information readily, and it means sex offenders have an easier time getting in contact

with children. The good news for parents, however, is that new technologies and software can help increase protection as well.

Some parents prohibit their children from using instant messaging software, while others are careful to monitor their children’s activity.

How much control do you exercise over your children’s online activities?

[5] Big help

Newly-elected Columbia School Board member Jan Mees put other candidates to shame when it came to raising money for her campaign.

Mees raised more than $14,000 while no other candidate in the past five years raised even $4,000.

Mees received $550 from her parents and $300 from her campaign manager, but the rest came from other people in the form of donations from $20 to $150.

Mees defended the high number by saying she was a first-time candidate and needed more money to get her name out to the city. This meant paying for signs, mailings, radio advertisements and a campaign fundraiser.

Meanwhile, more than 18 months before the next presidential election, potential candidates have already raised millions of dollars, despite the fact that no one has been declared the official nominee of a major political party. As donations increase for national races, campaign contributions seem poised to increase at the local level as well.

How important is raising more money than your opponent in a local election?

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