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Bloody Tragedy Still Not Worst in U.S. History

400 Minn. Cops Kept Jobs After Convictions

Columnist Calls Killer Cop’s Fund-Raiser a Bad Idea

Hefner Gave Essence the Capital to Launch

Death Toll in Puerto Rico Being Underreported

NFL Owners Gave $14 Million to Trump Campaign

Amber Payne Leaving NBCBLK for Teen Vogue

Connie Orlando to Head BET Programming

Overseas Content Providers Win American Eyes

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Medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday (Credit: Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun)

Medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday (Credit: Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun)

Bloody Tragedy Still Not Worst in U.S. History

The mass shooting in Las Vegas is the deadliest in modern U.S. history, but is it terrorism?Lori Hinnant and Justin Juozapavicius wrote Monday for the Associated Press.

“While much will hinge on the motives of a white gunman attacking a mostly-white country music crowd, that uncomfortable question also hits at some of America’s most divisive issues: race, religion and politics.

“The FBI said Monday that the 64-year-old shooter, identified as U.S. citizen Stephen Paddock, had no connection to an international terrorist group. The Islamic State group earlier claimed responsibility, saying Paddock was a recent convert. But beyond the claim, which offered no proof, the shooter’s motives are unclear and little was known immediately beyond his name and his choice of target.

” ‘Just because we rush to ascribe motive when the shooter is Muslim doesn’t mean we should rush to ascribe motive when the shooter is white,’ Shadi Hamid, a fellow at the Brookings Institute think tank and author of ‘Islamic Exceptionalism,’ wrote in a tweet Monday.

“Paddock, from Mesquite [Nev.], apparently killed himself as police closed in on his hotel room. The lack of known motive so far clouds whether the shooting meets traditional definitions of terrorism. Those generally include having a political, economic, religious or social goal; and using violence to convey a message to a broader audience than just the victims.

“The absence of information leaves many to fall back on a debate that has roiled the United States since even before Timothy McVeigh used a truck bomb against a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

“McVeigh was convicted not of terrorism, but of using a weapon of mass destruction and of murder for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers who died in the blast, which killed a total of 168 people.

“At well over 50 dead, Sunday’s toll surpassed that of the June 2016 shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, which killed 49 people. The Orlando shooting was carried out by Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group and was killed by police. Then-President Barack Obama called it ‘an act of terror and an act of hate.’ . . .”

Hinnant and Juozapavicius also wrote, “Ahead of Monday’s shootings, Randall Law, who wrote ‘Terrorism: A History,’ said he believed there is a racial component to the United States’ reluctance to clarify or prosecute with domestic terror laws.

“Many Americans, he said, think only ‘people with foreign names … and people with dark skin funding foreign ideologies’ would commit such horrific acts.’ . . .”

Greg Myre added for NPR, “Two key questions crop up every time this debate takes place.

“First, what was the attacker’s motive? . . . A person who carries out a mass attack and survives can face a range of federal and state charges, but unless the person is linked to one of the banned groups, terrorism won’t be one of them.”

NPR’s standards and practices editor, Mark Memmott, congratulated the NPR news staff Monday, saying, “The language we’ve been using about the mass shooting in Las Vegas has been precise and carefully attributed.

“Please continue to . . .Characterize this as apparently the worst mass shooting in ‘modern’ or ‘recent’ U.S. history. As we’ve unfortunately been reminded in recent years, there were some horrible mass killings in the 1800s

Close to 300 blacks were killed in Tulsa, Okla., in 1921.

Close to 300 blacks were killed in Tulsa, Okla., in 1921.

Other media, however, were not so precise. Characterizations of the Las Vegas mass shooting as “the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history” or “Nation’s deadliest mass shooting” were prominent in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, on ktnv.com, website of the Las Vegas ABC affiliate, KTNV-TV, and by some on the “NBC Nightly News” Monday, even as anchor Lester Holt carefully called it “in recent U.S. history.” (The broadcast also called the story “breaking news,” though the newscast reported the shootings took place more than 12 hours earlier.)

To call the shootings the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history is to negate the killings of Native Americans and African Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

To erase their deaths from modern-day tellings of American history is a peculiar accident at best and a bigoted revision of history at its worst,” Shaun King wrote last year for the Daily News in New York after the Pulse nightclub killings in Orlando. “It may be uncomfortable or complicated for members of the media to include moments like the massacre at Wounded Knee in their lists of deadliest moments in American history, but it belongs there. . . .”

400 Minn. Cops Kept Jobs After Convictions

A Star Tribune analysis of public records found more than 400 sworn Minnesota peace officers who kept their state law enforcement licenses despite having criminal convictions in the past two decades,” the Star Tribune in Minneapolis wrote Saturday over a story by Jennifer Bjorhus. “Records show the following officers received no discipline from the state police licensing board. . . .”

On Sunday, Bjorhus and MaryJo Webster reported, “In case after case, the state’s police licensing authority did not hold officers, like the ones below, accountable.

Jared Taylor choked a man until he blacked out.

Steven Brown fired a .38 Special during a confrontation with his fiancée.

Tom Bernardson punched a man so viciously that he put him in the hospital with a concussion.

“All three were convicted in Minnesota courts.

“And all three still work in law enforcement.

“They are among hundreds of sworn officers in Minnesota who were convicted of criminal offenses in the past two decades yet kept their state law enforcement licenses, according to public records examined by the Star Tribune. Dozens of them are still on the job with a badge, a gun and the public’s trust that they will uphold the law.

“The cases reveal a state licensing system that is failing repeatedly to hold officers accountable for reckless, sometimes violent, conduct.

“In Minnesota, doctors and lawyers can lose their professional licenses for conduct that is unethical or unprofessional — even if they never break a law. Yet law enforcement officers can stay on the job for years even when a judge or jury finds them guilty of criminal behavior. . . .”

Asa Khalif, right, a national organizer for Black Lives Matter, uses his bullhorn to address the line of Philadelphia Bicycle Police Officers blocking the entrance to the Fraternal Order of Police headquarters on Sunday. (Credit: Michael Bryant/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Asa Khalif, right, a national organizer for Black Lives Matter, uses his bullhorn to address the line of Philadelphia Bicycle Police Officers blocking the entrance to the Fraternal Order of Police headquarters on Sunday. (Credit: Michael Bryant/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Columnist Calls Killer Cop’s Fund-Raiser a Bad Idea

Organizers should call off Sunday’s planned fund-raiser for Ryan Pownall, the white Philly police officer suspended after fatally shooting a black man in his back over the summer,” Jenice Armstrong, columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, wrote on Sept 26.

“The benefit, dubbed ‘I Stand With Ryan,’ is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 headquarters, and will include a raffle and a 50-50 drawing, according to an event listing on Facebook. The invitation also reads: ‘Benefit for Ryan Pownall. Come out to support one of our brothers in blue. Tickets are $40 per person. This includes food, draft beer, music, and plenty of TVs to watch the Eagles!’

“No matter how many touchdowns the Eagles may score on Sunday, I’m throwing a flag on this play. Such an event would be in extremely poor taste and an insult to the citizens whom the officers are paid to serve — not to mention to the family of the deceased. . . .”

According to the group’s Facebook page, the group did not take Armstrong’s advice. The event attracted 218 people.

However, about a dozen protesters, led by Black Lives Matter, confronted law enforcement at the fund-raiser, Andrew Maykuth reported for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

They “showered police with profanity and called for the prosecution” of Pownall.

Armstrong wrote, “Some cops, no doubt, feel bad about Pownall’s suspension and pending firing for exercising what Commissioner Richard Ross called ‘poor judgment’ in firing his gun at David Jones, who had been riding a dirt bike and illegally carrying a gun when pulled over in North Philadelphia in June.

“I’m sure his co-workers are sorry to see a 12-year veteran of the department lose his livelihood. But that’s what envelopes are for. I suggest they get a few and use them, if they must, to send money to Pownall’s home in Bustleton.

“Better yet, send them to Jones’ grieving widow. . . .”

Hefner Gave Essence the Capital to Launch

A $250,000 investment from Hugh M. Hefner’s Playboy Enterprises provided the capital that enabled a struggling Essence magazine to launch in 1970.

Essence magazine's debut, May 1970

Essence magazine’s debut, May 1970

“Hugh Hefner was the one white man in publishing who recognized and valued the importance of the black consumer market,” Essence co-founder Edward Lewis wrote in “The Man From Essence,” his 2014 memoir written with Audrey Edwards.

“Black men represented almost 25 percent of Playboy’s readership in 1970, a fact that Hefner was quite aware of and respected with editorial content that catered to the interests of black men. . . .

“For a man who recognized the value of the black male market, it didn’t take much of a stretch for Hugh Hefner to recognize and value the potential of a black female market.

“He may not have been politically correct in his sexual views of women, but he knew a good business idea when he saw it, and Essence represented potentially good business.”

Essence co-founder Jonathan Blount provided Journal-isms with a 2011 letter to Hefner thanking him. In it, Blount recalled a meeting in Chicago with Playboy’s Executive Committee.

“The longest day of my life was spent on the day-long hot seat before AC Spectorsky, Bob [Gutwillig] and Bob [Preuss].At the end of the day, [Preuss] said, ‘Jonathan, Mr. Hefner has authorized us to do the deal!’ After that, Jackie Robinson’s FREEDOM NATIONAL BANK came in as did JOHN HANCOCK, through John Quincy Adams IV (‘JQ”), who raised their interest from $100,000 debt to $300,000 equity. SEARS bought multiple advertising insertions per issue which they set precedence and paid us for in advance. I was able to achieve [unparalleled] operating break-even in our FIRST anniversary issue. I was hailed as a young 24 year old wunderkind President in 1971.

“I emphasize a thousand times over that you, Brother Hefner were the special lifeline catalyst that made it all possible. Of all the accolades that you have received, there is nothing more positively, historically impactful than the role of ESSENCE as a change agent in American life. That is a paraphrase from First Lady, [Michelle] Obama. It is fitting that this important accord be [emblazoned] into your legacy. This is so ironic that a publisher that has been wrongly criticized for [denigrating] women, should be the primary support for the women’s magazine that changed and affirmed the most denigrated women. . . .”

In exchange for its investment, Playboy received a seat on the Essence board of directors. It was filled by Gutwillig, Playboy’s vice president.

Jonathan Blount

Jonathan Blount

That decision led to a public relations disaster, Lewis wrote. Meanwhile, Blount was ousted, and Blount used a memo from Gutwillig to charge at a news conference that Playboy was trying to take over Essence. The news conference was reported on May 6, 1971, by C. Gerald Fraser in the New York Times under the headline, “Ousted Essence Magazine Chief Accuses Playboy.”

It quoted from an Oct. 29, 1970, memo from Gutwillig to Preuss, his boss in Chicago. It said in part, “I am, of course, continuing to advise the Essence staff in the areas of my competence, and we continue effectively to dominate the board of directors with what now appears to be a solid coalition of five out of seven directors.

“In short, it looks as if we’ll get a damn good run for our money.”

Lewis wrote, “Everybody in black media circles and beyond, it seemed, had something to say about the Playboy attempt to ‘take over’ Essence . . . Unfortunately, Essence did not get in front of the incendiary issue with its own public relations spin. . . .

Playboy sold its investment to Pioneer Capital, and Pioneer Capital in turn sold its interest in the magazine to Camille Cosby, who became a board director in 1986 and remained an Essence shareholder until the magazine was sold in 2005. . . .”

On Oct. 12, 2011, Hefner responded to Blount’s letter thanking him for his early financial support.

“Dear Brother Jonathan,” Hefner replied.

“Thank you for your very special, quite touching letter regarding my part in the launch of ESSENCE. I take great satisfaction in the success of the publication and real pride in the part I was able to play in its beginning.

“All best,

“Hugh M. Hefner”

Hefner died Sept. 27 of natural causes at his home, the Playboy Mansion, in Los Angeles, according to Playboy Enterprises. He was 91.

Death Toll in Puerto Rico Being Underreported

Leovigildo Cotté died in the midst of desperation over not getting the oxygen needed to keep him alive in the only shelter that exists in the town of Lajas, which has been without electricity since the passing of Hurricane María a week ago. Not even his connections with the government saved him,” Omaya Sosa Pascual wrote Thursday for Centro de Periodismo Investigativo and posted on the Latino Rebels site.

“’ The generator never arrived,’ said the current mayor of Lajas, Marcos Turín Irizarry, who explained that he looked for oxygen for Cotté, father of the former mayor of that same town, ‘turning every stone,’ but could not find it.

“Cotté is one of the unaccounted victims of the Category 5 hurricane that devastated all of Puerto Rico last week, with its sustained winds and gusts of up to 200 miles per hour. On Wednesday, the government of Puerto Rico still held that the official number of deaths as a result of the catastrophe was 16, but the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, for its initials in Spanish) has confirmed that there are dozens and could be hundreds in the final count.

“The fatalities related to circumstances created by the hurricane are still mounting with each passing day, and official numbers are not counting patients who are not receiving dialysis, oxygen and other essential services, such as Pedro Fontánez, 79, who is bedridden at the Pavía Hospital in Santurce and who the institution is attempting to release since Saturday, while he lacks electricity at home to support the oxygen and gastric tube-feeding he needs to continue living. . . .”

NFL Owners Gave $14 Million to Trump Campaign

Last year, America’s professional sports teams pumped $14 million into President Donald Trump’s political campaign — more than oil companies, coal mining concerns or automakers,” Lance Williams and Matt Smith reported Thursday for Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

“Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed some $500 million in donations to 16 political committees that spent money last year to put Trump in office. The $14 million contributed by donors associated with pro sports ranked fifth among identifiable interest groups to Trump: more than oil ($8 million), coal ($6 million) and cars ($4 million).

“Trump’s biggest haul of sports money — $3.9 million — came from the owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans, Robert C. McNair, and his wife, Janice. Donors connected to the New York Jets gave $1.4 million. Madison Square Garden Executive Chairman James Dolan, whose company owns both the NBA’s New York Knicks and NHL’s New York Rangers, donated $1.4 million.

“Donations of $1 million apiece came from donors associated with five other NFL teams — the Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins — as well as from the MLB’s Chicago Cubs. The NFL itself donated $200,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee.

“Star athletes make millions but rarely give money to politicians, and that’s true of key figures in the national anthem controversy.

Colin Kaepernick, the onetime San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has been bitterly criticized by Trump for starting the anthem protests, never has given money in a presidential race, according to data from OpenSecrets.org.

“Nor has Steph Curry, the Golden State Warriors point guard who didn’t want his championship NBA team to make the customary trip to the White House. Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, who called the president a ‘bum’ for his tweet attacking Curry, gave $20,000 to the national Democratic party in 2008 — but nothing since. . . .”

Amber Payne Leaving NBCBLK for Teen Vogue

Amber Payne (Credit: Jason Miccolo Johnson

Amber Payne (Credit: Jason Miccolo Johnson)

Amber Payne, founding editor of NBCBLK, the African American-oriented website launched in 2015 by NBC, is joining Condé Nast Entertainment as executive producer of its Teen Vogue brand, a Condé Nast spokeswoman confirmed on Monday.

“I have enjoyed this foray in print/digital reporting, but I’m thrilled to return to my roots — producing video,” Payne wrote NBC staffers on Friday, explaining that she will lead the Teen Vogue video team.

“Many of you already know Amber — she’s been with NBC News for a decade, having started as a weekend researcher in 2004 on NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” a note from NBC read when she was assigned to NBCBLK.

“She’s a versatile journalist — she writes, shoots, and produces breaking news and feature stories — and has most recently served as the coordinating producer for Harry Smith’s NBC Nightly News series ‘Mr. Smith Goes to…..’ She has covered stories throughout the US and UK, Ecuador and parts of West Africa and South Africa. She was a field producer for special reports, including the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy; the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa; the Joplin tornado in Missouri; the Royal Wedding in England; the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games; Hurricane Katrina Recovery and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

In a Sept. 22 story for WWD, Payne explained that it’s her “responsibility to find and channel voices” from across the black community, Alexandra Steigrad wrote.

Connie Orlando to Head BET Programming

Connie Orlando

Connie Orlando

Connie Orlando has been named executive VP and head of programming at BET Networks,” Michael Malone reported Friday for Broadcasting & Cable. “She will lead original programming, music programming and specials, and news. Orlando will report to Debra L. Lee, chairman and CEO of BET Networks, and will split her time between Los Angeles and New York.

“Orlando had been interim head of programming since the spring. She had been senior VP of specials, music programming and news at the network, and held the role of VP of original programming prior to that. She is executive producer for all of BET’s tentpole events, including the BET Awards. . . .”

Overseas Content Providers Win American Eyes

As ad dollars that used to fund journalism pour into the coffers of Facebook and Google, the information business is experiencing a trend familiar to other American industries: The product they produce is now competing with cheaper versions coming from overseas,” Craig Silverman reported Thursday for BuzzFeed.

“Content farmers in the Philippines, Pakistan, Macedonia (of course), and beyond are launching websites and Facebook pages aimed at Americans in niches such as politics, mental health, marijuana, American muscle cars, and more.

“Based on Facebook engagement and other metrics, some of these overseas publishers are now beating their American counterparts. In the process they’re building an industry centered on producing and exporting cheap (and sometimes false) information targeted at the US. . . .”

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