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Columnist Cleared of Spousal Assault Charge

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Dallas' James Ragland Reassigned for Nearly Two Years

Reactions Differ on "Obamacare," "Affordable Care Act"

CNN Names Diversity V.P.; N.Y. Times Won't Fill Post

N.Y. Times Finds Child Firearm Deaths Underreported

Columnist Notes Deaths by Police Tasers

Even the Blind Can See That Race Matters

Short Takes

James Ragland (Credit: WFAA_TV)

Dallas' James Ragland Reassigned for Nearly Two Years

A longtime Dallas Morning News columnist who was reassigned to reporting duties nearly two years ago after an altercation with his wife is waiting to see whether he will regain his column after a judge dismissed the assault charge. His wife declined to testify against him.

"My No. 1 concern always was the restoration of my family and, secondarily, the dismissal of a case that should never have been filed," James Ragland, who had been reassigned from his Metro column to reporting on a nearby county, told Journal-isms Monday by email. "Justice was slow, but it finally arrived.

"I am evaluating my options, how I want to move forward and what I want my future career to look like. Resuming a column may well be a part of that equation. But, as you know, I serve at the pleasure of the management of this newspaper, to which I have never uttered, and will never issue, any demands or unreasonable requests. My mind, my heart and my faith don't operate that way."

Editor Bob Mong said he was "very happy for James and his family that this case has been resolved," according to the newspaper. Mong told Journal-isms by email on Monday, "The managing editor has been on assignment in England. Returns Tuesday. We'll have [James'] next assignment teed up very soon."

Ragland, a Morning News columnist since 2000, was arrested in November 2011 after an altercation with his wife, Shannon Morley-Ragland, according to police documents.

The Morning News' Ed Timms reported the judge's decision on Sept. 24. " 'The state of Texas is unable to procure the presence and testimony of Shannon Morley-Ragland, the complaining witness in this case,' according to the state's motion to dismiss the case," Timms wrote. " 'The state has not had contact with the complaining witness, and at this time there is no probability that the witness will become available for trial in the foreseeable future.'

"County Criminal Court Judge Elizabeth Frizell granted the motion.

"Prosecutors filed a document with the court on Friday disclosing any evidence that might have been favorable to Ragland at trial, which they are required to do by law. According to the document, Ragland's wife informed prosecutors in April 2012 that he 'did not grab the phone from her hands, did not push her down, did not throw the phone at her and that she was not scared of the defendant' as she'd stated in the original police report.

"Tammy Kemp, who heads the family violence unit for the Dallas County district attorney’s office, said Morley-Ragland 'just did not want to come to court.'

" 'She did not want to go forward and testify,' Kemp said. That, Kemp said, is not uncommon in such cases."

Defeated GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney made "Obamacare" a campaign issu

Reactions Differ on "Obamacare," "Affordable Care Act"

"What's in a name? When it comes to the debate over health care, apparently a lot," Steve Liesman reported Thursday for CNBC.

"In CNBC's third-quarter All-America Economic Survey, we asked half of the 812 poll respondents if they support Obamacare and the other half if they support the Affordable Care Act.

"First thing: 30 percent of the public don't know what ACA is, vs. only 12 percent when we asked about Obamacare. More on that later.

"Now for the difference: 29 percent of the public supports Obamacare compared with 22 percent who support ACA. Forty-six percent oppose Obamacare and 37 percent oppose ACA. So putting Obama in the name raises the positives and the negatives. Gender and partisanship are responsible for the differences. Men, independents and Republicans are more negative on Obamacare than ACA. Young people, Democrats, nonwhites and women are more positive on Obamacare. . . ."

In a Pew Research survey last month of 1,506 people conducted with USA Today, "A stunning 91 percent of the black Americans who responded said they approved of Obamacare while only 29 percent of whites did."

CNN Names Diversity V.P.; N.Y. Times Won't Fill Post

Geraldine Moriba

CNN Worldwide Monday named producer Geraldine Moriba as vice president of diversity and inclusion, defying those who predicted last week that the resignation of the chair and vice chair of CNN's Diversity Council doomed the panel. Moriba was also named to chair the council.

At the New York Times Co., however, spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Journal-isms, Desiree Dancy, who resigned last week as chief diversity officer and vice president for corporate human resources, will not be replaced.

"However, diversity remains a very strong priority at The Times where we have an ongoing diversity council and the support and commitment of senior management," Murphy said by email. "Given the current size and shape of our company, a diversity council makes more sense at this time."

Desiree Dancy won't be replaced. (video)

Dancy told Journal-isms last week, "The Times has reduced its business units and has refocused its operation to a smaller, and more singularly directed company," changing the nature of her job.

The CNN announcement countered what has been perceived as a shrinking commitment to diversity by news organizations. The American Society of News Editors and the Magazine Publishers of America eliminated their diversity positions, for example, although NPR has a vice president for diversity and inclusion in Keith Woods and the Gannett Co., a vice president/talent acquisition and diversity in Virgil L. Smith.

Some diversity officers say they cut a wide swath. At the Asian American Journalists Association's August convention in New York, Craig Robinson, executive vice president and chief diversity officer of NBCUniversal, and Crystal Johns, director of talent development and diversity for CBS News, described vigorous diversity work at their companies.

When appointments are considered, "If I don't see anybody who's diverse on that slate, it gets pushed back," Johns said then.

The CNN announcement said, "Moriba is an Emmy-award winning producer, who led CNN's 'In America' documentary team in the creation of 11 documentaries in two years. These award-winning and groundbreaking specials focused on communities which had previously been underserved by the media. She also conceived and launched the successful 'In America blog.' In its first six months, it crossed the 15 million page view threshold and earned unprecedented engagement success, making it one of the most popular blogs.

"Moriba came to CNN in 2010 after 16 years at NBC News, where she served as senior producer for Broadcast Standards, monitoring news reports on all NBC platforms. She also produced award winning long form and breaking news stories. And she was the co-chair for NBC News' Diversity Council developing diversity programs to support leadership development and diverse content across NBC News programming. . . ."

A CNN spokeswoman said last week that Johnita P. Due, the council's longtime chair, was stepping down and that Maria Ebrahimji, its vice chair, was leaving the network.

The change at the council, coupled with criticism of CNN's diversity record since Jeff Zucker became CNN president last year, led to a report that Zucker had disbanded the group.

Monday's announcement said Due, who also serves as assistant general counsel for CNN, will continue to advise Moriba and the council.

N.Y. Times Finds Child Firearm Deaths Underreported

"The .45-caliber pistol that killed Lucas Heagren, 3, on Memorial Day last year at his Ohio home had been temporarily hidden under the couch by his father," Michael Luo and Mike McIntire reported for Sunday's print edition of the New York Times. "But Lucas found it and shot himself through the right eye. 'It’s bad,' his mother told the 911 dispatcher. 'It’s really bad.”

"A few days later in Georgia, Cassie Culpepper, 11, was riding in the back of a pickup with her 12-year-old brother and two other children. Her brother started playing with a pistol his father had lent him to scare coyotes. Believing he had removed all the bullets, he pointed the pistol at his sister and squeezed the trigger. It fired, and blood poured from Cassie’s mouth.

Alex Whitfield

"Just a few weeks earlier, in Houston, a group of youths found a Glock pistol in an apartment closet while searching for snack money. A 15-year-old boy was handling the gun when it went off. Alex Whitfield, who had just turned 11, was struck. A relative found the bullet in his ashes from the funeral home.

"Cases like these are among the most gut-wrenching of gun deaths. Children shot accidentally — usually by other children — are collateral casualties of the accessibility of guns in America, their deaths all the more devastating for being eminently preventable."

They also wrote, "A New York Times review of hundreds of child firearm deaths found that accidental shootings occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, because of idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities. The killings of Lucas, Cassie and Alex, for instance, were not recorded as accidents. Nor were more than half of the 259 accidental firearm deaths of children under age 15 identified by The Times in eight states where records were available. . . ."

Columnist Notes Deaths by Police Tasers

"Three years ago, more than 450 small white crosses were placed on a vacant lot next to New Mount Calvary Baptist Church in the far south Fort Worth community of Highland Hills," Bob Ray Sanders wrote for Sunday's print edition of the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas.

"The sign placed in front of the display at 5800 Oak Grove Road proclaims the site as the 'Taser/Torture/Death National Memorial.' It goes on to say that it is in memory of Michael Jacobs Jr., who was 'tortured alive for 54 seconds with a 50,000 volt Taser gun. His blood cries out from the grave for justice.'

"Jacobs was a 24-year-old mental patient who died in April 2009 after being shot with a 'stun gun,' officially called a conducted electrical weapon (CEW) and most commonly referred to as a Taser, the name of the leading manufacturer of CEWs."

Sanders also wrote, "Tasers are being used by more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies in more than 40 countries, and most are not thinking of giving them up. Many police officials insist the weapons help save lives, as they are used when an officer otherwise would have to deploy a gun.

"But as the number of deaths rise, along with the number of lawsuits against stun gun manufacturers, some police departments are beginning to re-examine their use of CEWs. . . ."

Ray Charles, Whoopi Goldberg and Willie Nelson on "Willie Nelson and Friends: Li

Even the Blind Can See That Race Matters

Kat Chow of NPR's Code Switch race-relations team came up with a race-related story few have written: How the blind perceive race.

"Law professor Osagie Obasogie walked into a movie theater to see 'Ray,' a biopic about the musician Ray Charles, and walked out with a question that would drive eight years worth of research," Chow's story began.

" 'I was really struck by how Ray Charles had this really interesting understanding of race throughout his life even though he was blind throughout his early childhood,' says Obasogie, who teaches at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. 'I just wanted to learn more about how blind people understood race. I never had thought about it.'

"Obasogie started by interviewing 110 individuals who were blind since birth. His full research on the topic will be published in a book, Blinded by Sight: Seeing Race In The Eyes Of The Blind, that hits shelves in November.

"The professor mentioned that some of the individuals he interviewed took offense at the notion that sighted people would think blind people are unaware of race. And that not being aware of race somehow made blind people morally superior."

Among the law professor's conclusions:

"Obasogie hopes that his research will debunk the notion of color blindness as applied to race. That is, the belief that race isn't a social or political issue, rather, it is something we see and is merely skin-deep.

" 'The idea of color blindness as a metaphor plays upon a certain assumption on what race is and how it plays out in the blind community,' Obasogie said. 'So it's a metaphor that suggests that those who are blind or can't see race necessarily, kind of live in this racial utopia where they don't have to deal with this messy world of race because of their blindness.'

"This racial utopia, Obasogie argues, doesn't exist."

In addition, "Obasogie also mentions a participant he calls Keith, a blind black man who said race is a major factor in his dating life. When meeting other blind people, Keith said they'd find a reason to touch his hair . . . . Obasogie emphasizes 'blind people are not uniquely preoccupied with race. Rather, the findings simply draw attention to the fact that race affects everyone's lives and that blind people are not exempt simply because they cannot see. Seeing and experiencing race is a social rather than merely visual phenomenon.' "

Short Takes

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Cross-Postings from The Root

Bathazar Xavier

the biggest bone i have to pick with the obama administration on this is their failure to be proactive in educating people about what it does and doesn't do. they also are letting people perpetuate false narratives about what is and isn't happening. case in point, the home depot myth that 20,000 employees will lose coverage because of obamacare...the truth is that, instead of the limited coverage offered by the company, part time employees will be able to get coverage through the public exchanges. what does this mean? home depot employees will be able to obtain more comprehensive coverage than the $20,000 policy currently offered (most health insurance policies have plan limits of at least $1M).

knowledge is power and the white house hasn't been using it's power to educate effectively.


ALL 800,000 furloughed federal employees, should organize and descend on Capitol Hill in DC and protest their situation. They should bring as many of the family members as they can, along with all the their bills that may not get paid due to the government shutdown...


"Some Americans don't know that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare are the same thing?"

That's odd, because when I went to the Website to investigate the program the system was overloaded because people were signing up. So there's a lot of people who know about the ACA, indeed. blackspeak likes this.


There is lies the confusion... The tea party/GOP talk about the ACA as if there was no ACA, because they believe its "Obamacare", which they believe is not the ACA. Its a classic "Catch 22"...


You are right, just like the GOP calls the ACA a bill and not a Law. It's all a spin tactic for their constituents to eat up.


The reason so many people are confused about the ACA is, too many people have listened to the tea party/GOP. The tea party/GOP defined the term "Obamacare" as socialist, "free health care for blacks", death panels, and a "jobs killer", when the exact opposite it true. The ACA is none of those things. So when you hear people say "Obamacare" it is a pejorative against the ACA. Even supporters who refer the the ACA as "Obamacare' are also supporting this pejorative version of the ACA. So, I ask those who support the ACA to refer to it by its name - The Affordable Care Act ot ACA....


Sad part is that they completely destroyed the name of the Law. It's the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The Law is designed to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance, lower the uninsured rate by expanding public and private insurance coverage, and reduce the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government.

To protect citizens from scamming insurance companies, the law prohibits insurers from denying coverage to individuals due to pre-existing conditions, and a partial community rating requires insurers to offer the same premium price to all applicants of the same age and geographical location without regard to gender or most pre-existing conditions (excluding tobacco use).

No matter what conservatives say, Obama did a good thing.

blackspeak likes this.


THE BEST OVERVIEW OF THE CURRENT POLITICAL DEBATE SO FAR, BY RICHARD PRINCE For anyone who needs to get an overview of the debate surrounding the government shutdown, the debt ceiling, this piece is an excellent sart! Very interesting! Thanks, Richard!


Sounds like about 1/3 of people are not sure what ACA/Obamacare is. Hope they are not the ones that are touted in the polls. Another reason that I take most studies/polls with a grain of salt. Way too many lemmings out there.

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