Tom Baxter

As problems grip Turner and ASO, Atlanta’s image, and its sound, fade

Between buyouts and lockouts, the visionaries who dreamed big about Atlanta’s future have to be a little dismayed right now.

Turner Broadcasting and CNN, like the Atlanta Symphony and chorus, were built on the upstart idea that a media operation based in a provincial city could compete on a global scale. The fates of all these organizations are now in the hands of much larger forces, and what happens to them will have a lot to do with the image Atlanta projects to the world.
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Rope-a-dope registration case could become a full-blown mess

First the math.

If we assume a reasonable increase in turnout over the 2.6 million Georgians who voted in the election four years ago, as most observers do, then the 40,000 voter applications (some say the number is as high as 55,000) which the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights says have not been properly processed would amount to between 1 and 2 percent of the total vote in next month’s election.
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The watch on the frontier of infection

Among the recent victims of exotic diseases was an Alabama hunting dog named Brennel. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa — the animal version of the Centers for Disease Control — confirmed last week that the dog had contracted the rare pseudorabies virus from a feral pig at a wild hog rodeo.

The virus that killed Brennel has never jumped over into a human host, although commercial hog producers inoculate against it to protect their stock. The attention focused by a government lab on Brennel’s ailment is a sign of the vigilance with which we now patrol the frontier of infection.
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Deal’s ‘Happy Days’ strategy depends on Obama’s recovery

In more ways than one, Barack Obama has been Nathan Deal’s bestest frenemy this year.

Obama is of course the scary figure whom Deal’s opponent, Jason Carter, is tied with in those black-and-white (mostly black) attack ads. In the eyes of Republican strategists, the president is the great nationalizer, and he’s been linked with the Democrat in nearly every race in the country.

Obama has been Deal’s frenemy in another, less obvious way as well. Continue reading

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Sports and the American funhouse

Had his glancing reflection not flickered briefly in the funhouse mirror of American culture, chances are U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller’s punishment for beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel would have been relatively mild.

Fuller spent a couple of nights in jail last month after his wife called police to their room at the downtown Ritz Carlton, and his cases were reassigned to other judges while the matter was being cleared up. But the charges against him were to be dropped in an agreement in which he was to enroll in domestic violence and substance abuse programs. It looked as though he would be returning to his judicial seat in Montgomery, Ala.

But last week the wind changed.
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Of fraud, and where the votes are

To fully appreciate the irony of last week’s headlines, as stories about the state’s investigation of voter fraud competed with the latest nursing home scandal, you have to understand something about the actual theory and practice of stealing votes.

When asked why he robbed banks, the late Willie Sutton is said to have replied, “Because that’s where the money is,” thus assuring himself more posthumous fame than he earned with his crimes. When it comes to votes, you could say much the same thing about nursing homes, which is why they often come up in speculations about voter fraud.
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A ‘far cry,’ but a close election that matters

Yes, we have the U.S. Senate up for grabs and a couple of barn-burners in our state, but there’s a vote next week across the pond that should be of interest to a lot of people in this part of the world, for reasons that go all the way back to Alexander McGillivray and William McIntosh.

Both sons of Scottish traders and Creek mothers, McGillivray  and McIntosh were part of an extended, creolized elite which held sway over a vast part of the Southeast before the American Revolution. Equally at home in the Creek towns, the backwoods trading posts and the society halls of Charleston and Savannah, they were important early figures in the history of Georgia and Alabama.
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Georgia — where even the crooks are broke

There are some obvious parallels between the case of former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer, who resigned her office and pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme last week in federal court, and former Gwinnett County Commissioner Shirley Lasseter, who was sentenced to federal prison along with her son a couple of years ago after pleading guilty to bribery in an FBI sting operation.

Both were respected local leaders whose reputations were based on years of service. Both were Republicans representing affluent neighborhoods. The most striking parallel between these fallen public servants is that from all appearances, both were pretty hard up. Continue reading

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A shooting in August, and the horizontal spread of urban blight

These days some of our most important stories find their way to the top of the news cycle for incidental reasons, and such is the case with the unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar notes in a searing essay in Time, three other unarmed black men were shot by police in the United States within the same month as Michael Brown. The Albuquerque, N.M. police department has been involved in the shooting of 37 people in the past four years, and killed 23. Even cases which sparked widespread protests and rioting, such as Cincinnati in 2001 and Anaheim in 2012, attracted far less national media attention than Ferguson.

As important as the issues it raises may be, what caused the ever-restless eye of the national media to focus on Ferguson was that this young man was shot in August, when Washington and the world’s other power centers are quiet, and his body lay on the ground for four hours, an image broadcast nationally by the end of that news cycle.
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Politics and the rise of faux

Did you hear that Michelle Bachman got high out in Colorado and was stopped for driving under the influence? How about the liberal economist Paul Krugman filing for bankruptcy? And did you know Sarah Palin has taken an on-air job with Al Jazeera?

Stories like these are almost unbelievable, which means they are, just barely, believable. None of these stories are true, but they’ve fooled quite a few people who have passed them along as fact in social media. They’re the product of a satirical website which produces faux news.

As the latest hit on the perennially embattled John Barrow shows, faux has also become a political tactic. Continue reading

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