Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 8:57 PM
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speak with the media during a campaign stop at Empire Bucket, a manufacturing facility, on September 29, 2014, in Hudson, Wisconsin. Walker and Christie spent the day campaigning for Walker's re-election. (Photo by Stephen Maturen (Getty Images)

Here we go again: Another American college has decided that -- in a world which only has 6 billion people, give or take a few hundred million -- no one would be better to impart wisdom to graduating seniors than a man who was convicted of murdering a Philadelphia police officer after he was found on the sidewalk, wounded from a shootout and holding the smoking gun that shot Officer Daniel Faulkner.

It's sad, and sadly repetitive, to read that students at Goddard College in Vermont chose that cop killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, to deliver a commencement speech. But it's not really surprising. Throughout this 33-year saga, one thing as remained constant: The further removed that you are from the streets of Center City -- both physically and emotionally -- the more likely that you will see Abu-Jamal as a hero for oppressed people, and the less interest you will have in the facts of the case. Near Paris, they name streets for this guy. But most of us in Philly know what really happened here on Dec. 9, 1981.

I believe I've mentioned this before, but I'd never heard of the Mumia case until the early 1990s, when I still worked in New York City and read in the Village Voice about an NYC protest by people proclaiming his innocence. I was surprised -- at the point I'd been reading the Daily News or Inquirer fairly regularly for several years but had not heard of this matter. When I started working here in 1995 (!), I asked my new co-workers about the case and read some of the clips. I was shocked to learn how little reasonable doubt about Abu-Jamal's guilt existed -- among either the local media, or during the minimal defense he mounted in his 1982 trial.

Will Bunch @ 8:57 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 3:36 PM
Aerial view of a Marcellus Shale drilling operation near Waynesburg, PA ( Michael Bryant / Staff Photographer ) (Michael Bryant/Staff photographe)

This is new one: Activists in New York are pleading with their leaders to cross the border to see what we've accomplished under (mostly) Gov. Corbett.

They also want the visitors to smell it.

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make good on a promise to visit fracking sites in other states, sending him a letter last week urging him to travel to Pennsylvania.

Will Bunch @ 3:36 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, September 29, 2014, 9:04 PM
Officer Richard Decoatsworth outside the Criminal Justice Center on Tuesday, May 20, 2008. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff (DN)

Here's a story that I don't think we've seen the end of -- although this is Philadelphia, so you never know. If you follow the local news, you've probably heard of former Philadelphia police officer Richard DeCoatsworth, who went from "hero cop" in the gallery of the State of the Union address, even, to "disgraced ex-cop" in just a few short years.

There were several criminal allegations against DeCoatsworth, but the most serious came last year when he was accused, after an armed standoff, of raping two prostitutes -- an episode for which he initially pleaded guilty to some lesser charges. Today came a stunning reversal of fortune -- all the charges in this case were dropped and he withdrew his earlier guilty plea, and he was released from jail. The DA's office now says the two female alleged victims were not credible witnesses.

I don't know what happened that night, and I'd be the first to say that DeCoatsworth, like any citizen, is entitled to due process and a presumption of innocence. I'm deeply concerned, though, about the way that criminal justice works -- or doesn't work -- in Philadelphia. To begin with, just the simple facts of the DeCoatsworth matter suggests that someone in law-enforcement got something seriously wrong at some point in this case -- either when he was charged with such a serious felony, or now. I'm not holding my breath, but it would be good for the public if prosecutors were more transparent about what really happened here.

Will Bunch @ 9:04 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, September 29, 2014, 5:10 PM
Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Jr., Director of Operations J3, speaks about the operations in Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, during a news conference at the Pentagon. In a separate action from the air strikes against the Islamic State group, the U.S. bombed a cell of al Qaida militants in northwestern Syria after concluding they were close to attacking the U.S. or Europe, Pentagon officials say. Mayville, the Pentagon’s operations chief, said that the Khorasan Group was nearing “the execution phase of an attack either in Europe or the homeland." (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The secret is...there's nothing there. This is a classic example of the kind of government dishonesty that Obama was supposed to get rid of. Instead, he's perfecting it.

Will Bunch @ 5:10 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, September 29, 2014, 4:52 PM
While I fume over a 70-percent-done blog post that I accidentally deleted, join the great debate. Is it totally awesome that one of my musical heroines, Aretha Franklin, has covered "Rolling in the Deep"? Or is it totally depressing that autotune seems to have been used?
Will Bunch @ 4:52 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, September 29, 2014, 1:02 AM

I don't know if they'll ever finally get around to thawing Walt Disney, wherever he and his probably apocryphal  ice box may be, and successfully re-animate the legendary animator. But if they do, and if they ask him to design an American city, I'm pretty sure what he'd come up would be Chicago, circa 2014. The 100-block downtown core of America's third-largest city rivals the Magic Kingdom for cleanliness and gee-whiz factor, with its muscular, sharply angled glass condo and hotel towers -- one after another after another -- so immaculate looking you could probably eat a fried pirogi off them. The Chicago River that once caught fire from pollution is now an unnatural Caribbean green.

The towers are so tall that you can't see the prairie for the steel trees, that you have to pull up the Drudge Report on your device to remember that nearby there's some violent place Drudge calls "Chicagoland" where 20, 30, 40 poor folks get shot every weekend. The bubble was hard to escape...literally, after a troubled man decided Thursday night to burn down a big chunk of Chicago's air-traffic control center. Suddenly the world's top Internet journalists (joined, inexplicably, by me) -- after swapping 12 months worth of acquired knowledge in three crammed days -- were unable to connect, to get to the places where we wanted to go next.

OK, so I'm writing this from the frenzied waiting area at O'Hare, so maybe an 8-hour flight delay has given me waaaay too much time to craft overwrought metaphors about the 15th annual confab of the Online News Association, where 1,899 really, really smart people who've taken Internet journalism from 0 to about 35 mph over the last decade-and-a-half gather once a year to give it a little more gas. But I come away feeling like online journalism -- which, let's be honest, IS journalism for a growing majority of people -- is trapped in something of a bubble right now. The big fixes have all been done. Most news people are thinking digitally now (and I won't name the folks I know who aren't, or won't) but the pedal won't go down any further. So much energy and so many person-hours was spent chasing things that mattered so much in 2009 -- like having a cool homepage, for example -- but are fast becoming meaningless five quick years later.

Will Bunch @ 1:02 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, September 28, 2014, 3:17 PM
Move over Tank Man -- there's a new kid in town. If you pay attention to one story this week, pay attention to Hong Kong. Because democracy matters.
Will Bunch @ 3:17 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 8:20 PM
Bruce Springsteen has reached age 65. He's still performing, and 42% of N.J. residents say they're fans. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)

Will you still love Bruce Springsteen, will you still need him, when he's 65? Because he is, as of today -- happy birthday to the Boss of all bosses. Indeed, that sound you probably heard today was a giant pit forming in the stomach of several million similarly aging non-cop Baby Boomers at this news, but to paraphrase Maurice Chevalier, turning 65 isn't so bad when you consider the alternative. At least he'll be collecting Social Security if the music thing doesn't work out for him.

For the rest of this week, you'll have to consider the alternative to the far-left agitprop that's usually  occupying this space. I'm off to Chicago, where I'm making one last attempt to figure out this online journalism thing. I'll be back to bug you again on Sunday. Until then, use the space below to comment on the Great Issues of our time. Will President Obama come up with another terrorist group that we've never heard of during the next five days to drop bombs on? (Probably). Does Pennsylvania need to extend its hate-crimes law to include the LGBT community? (Based on what we've seen these last two weeks, you'd have to say yes.) Will you miss the Phillies?...did you even know they were still playing? (Yes, sort of, I guess.)

Have a great week.

Will Bunch @ 8:20 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.


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