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Archive for July 8th, 2011

UNC’s pimped-out honor

Last year I wrote that “The mockery of the academics and ‘Honor’ of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is now nearly complete.” That was in response to the case of Kendric Burney, a senior at UNC who went before the Honor Court seeking permission to add a new class … in mid-October, halfway through the semester, a month and a half past the deadline to add a class without instructor permission … to replace, apparently, the class for which he was being investigated for academic fraud in … and whose extreme request was granted.

Burney’s status as a “preseason All-ACC first-team pick” defensive back on the football team certainly seemed to play a huge factor in all of those extraordinary allowances (and even wording it in that fashion seems like understatement).

Now I think that the mockery is complete. The devastating notice of allegations that UNC received from the NCAA, detailing not one but nine major violations, from academic fraud to the associate head football coach being an agent runner to players receiving benefits, has been barely sniffed at by North Carolina’s supposed caretakers of education. When they do speak, as has former UNC President Bill Friday, who as former co-chair of the Knight Commission to clean up collegiate athletics was until last month a credible voice for academic integrity against athletics malfeasance, they say things like this:

“It’s been a difficult time but like good North Carolinians we’ve admitted we’ve made the mistake,” said Friday. “Now let’s move on.”

Show’s over, folks; nothin’ to see here.

But why do I think the self-mockery of UNC’s Honor Court is complete? Well, because of this from Sports Illustrated about the lawsuit by UNC defensive end Michael McAdoo against the NCAA for permanently banning him from college athletics.

McAdoo sued because the NCAA ignored the fact that UNC’s Undergraduate Honor Court found insufficient evidence to charge McAdoo with one count of academic fraud and found him not guilty of another. The honor court found McAdoo guilty in one instance, and that involved a tutor reformatting his citations and his works cited page for a paper in a Swahili class. The court suspended McAdoo from school for the spring 2011 semester.

Sounds like McAdoo has a fantastic case. The NCAA clearly ignored the facts when it sentenced him.

Here’s where it gets complicated. When McAdoo’s attorney filed the suit, he included as evidence the paper in question. This week, The Raleigh News and Observer posted the case’s attached exhibits on its Web site. That’s when a few bored NC State fans began Googling. In the process, they found that McAdoo had pasted large passages word-for-word from sources available on the Internet. Blog SportsByBrooks.com picked up the story, and it spread from there. Will the plagiarism sink McAdoo’s case?

In case it’s not clear, the Honor Court, in its rush to soften the blow against a football player (and suspend him essentially in the offseason so he’d be ready to go come the fall), missed broad passages of cut-and-paste plagiarism — a highly egregious offense in academe when not committed by a revenue-sport student-athlete — that were so blatant that random guys on the Internet found them just by looking at the same citations the Honor Court did.

Meanwhile, the player is using that plagiarized paper in his case against the NCAA for banning him in part for academic fraud.

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I thought the 2010 GOP freshman class was our salvation?

Twelve Republicans have joined in sponsoring the “Reduce America’s Debt Now Act of 2011.” It provides for payroll deduction for any amount a citizen wishes to pay toward lowering our national debt.

On the surface it’s a seemingly needless bill, considering that any American right now, without this legislation, can send a check to the government. But the details of the bill, sponsored by Rick Crawford of Arkansas, show that this is also a really, really, bad bill in many ways.

I’ll let Simon Black of the Sovereign Man blog give you the lowdown. After reading what he reveals, you have to wonder, “What in the world were these Republicans thinking?”:

[I]f an employee feels so compelled and should elect to have a portion of his/her paycheck withheld, the onus of responsibility is now on the employer to make it happen. The employer has to do all the paperwork, withhold the money, send the payment to the Treasury, maintain the account records, and probably submit to all kinds of new filing requirements.

It gets worse (emphasis in the original):

So let’s say there are millions of sheep out there who elect to donate a portion of their toil and sweat so that the Chinese and big financial institutions don’t have to worry about an American default. How does Congress plan on rewarding its most patriotic citizens? By sticking it to them on their taxes, of course.

HR 2411 stipulates that any contribution made to the Treasury in order to pay down the federal debt IS NOT TAX DEDUCTIBLE.

For the record, here are the co-sponsors who jumped on to Crawford’s bill:

Rep Denham, Jeff [CA-19]
Rep Dold, Robert J. [IL-10]
Rep Fincher, Stephen Lee [TN-8]
Rep Flores, Bill [TX-17]
Rep Griffin, Tim [AR-2]
Rep Guinta, Frank C. [NH-1]
Rep Huizenga, Bill [MI-2]
Rep Landry, Jeffrey M. [LA-3]
Rep Palazzo, Steven M. [MS-4]
Rep Scott, Austin [GA-8]
Rep Tiberi, Patrick J. [OH-12]

All but one of these is a freshman (Tiberi is in his sixth term). If conservatives are waiting for the 2010 freshman class to help fight the growing nanny state and cut spending in favor of raising revenue, we may be in big trouble.

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Think Progress’ dishonest LGBT blog

Igor Volsky, writing at the Soros-funded Think Progress, either can’t read the English language or is being blatantly dishonest in his reporting.

He alleges that Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann has signed a pledge from a Christian organization to ban pornography. Here’s what Volsky wrote on Think Progress’ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender blog as part of a bulleted list of evil things the pledge allegedly demands:

– PORNOGRAPHY SHOULD BE BANNED: Vow 9 stipulates that the candidate must “support human protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy” and protect them from “seduction into promiscuity and all forms of pornography…and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.”

However, if you go to the actual pledge you’ll see that Volsky either needs some remedial reading instruction or he simply wanted to provide a juicy headline for the denizens of the nutroot blogs to play with for a day or two, in hopes that Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert would cement it in the minds of those not paying much attention.

But here’s what the pledge actually calls for, also in a bulleted list of things the signees will work for:

–Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy – our next generation of American children – from human trafficking, sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.

Note that this calls for the “protection” of women and children from things such as those listed, which includes pornography. It never mentions a ban, it never promotes a ban. But Volsky chooses to use it in his deceptive characterization of the pledge, implying that the words “PORNOGRAPHY SHOULD BE BANNED” actually appear in the pledge. Typical journalistic standards for Think Progress.

If you want to read the entire pledge, it’s here.

UPDATE: Sister Toldjah points out that many more outlets, bloggers and tweeters have picked up on this scurrilous falsehood. But, hey, that was the plan, wasn’t it?

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A Troopergate whitewash

The N.C. Highway Patrol has cleared one trooper and suspended another in the bizarre case involving a woman who was stopped for suspicious reasons, who later blew a 0.00 on a Breathalyzer, but who still was arrested, handcuffed, and taken to a remote county jail late at night.

If the powers that be at the N.C. Highway Patrol can read Michael Biesecker’s riveting account of what happened that night, which has been contradicted only in a couple of minor instances, without feeling that both of these troopers were acting in an unprofessional, arrogant, and dangerous manner, then something is wrong.

As a reporter, my first thought would be to try to determine whether the troopers involved have had a habit of stopping attractive women late at night on a trumped-up excuses and claiming they smell non-existent alcohol on their breaths. Was that done? Did they even ask? Because this instance has the earmarks of a time-worn M.O. about it.

Was it just a coincidence that a second trooper stopped a concerned husband trying to follow his arrested wife? Was it just a coincidence that the first trooper then picked a remote and unlikely jail to take the wife to? Was the high-handed and unprofessional texting by both troopers simply a one-off occurrence? If the N.C. Highway Patrol thinks that, then they would have been perfect candidates for the Casey Anthony jury.

This whole thing smells of an abuse of power, and both of these troopers a covered with the odor.

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I anxiously await Sen. Patty Murray’s explanation for this.



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Will Michael Peterson Get a New Trial?

Come September, lawyers for convicted murderer Michael Peterson will argue to Judge Orlando Hudson that the former Durham resident deserves a new trial. This piece is a fascinating look at Peterson’s core group of supporters who visit him regularly at the Nash Correctional Institution.

Peterson’s past attempts at securing a retrial have failed. In October 2005 one of his defense attorneys filed an appeal stating that irrelevant evidence presented by the prosecution prevented Peterson from getting a fair trial. In November 2008 another defense lawyer filed a motion alleging that prosecutors withheld evidence during the trial.

The most recent incident that offers Peterson hope involves a North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agent who was fired in January for hiding and manipulating key blood evidence. In 2003 the agent, Duane Deaver, served as a vital witness for the prosecution, stating that the blood patterning on the stairwell and on Peterson’s clothes proved that he attacked Kathleen with a fireplace poker. Based on those developments, Peterson’s lawyer David Rudolf met April 12 with the judge on the case, Orlando Hudson, who agreed to schedule a hearing for this September. During the hearing, if Hudson determines that Deaver’s testimony unfairly influenced the jury’s verdict, he may grant Peterson a new trial. Deaver’s lawyer, Philip Isley, declined to comment.


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