April 22, 2015
WHEN AN African-American is wrongly shot by a Philadelphia police officer, it's more likely the officer will be black than white. However, more white police officers are involved in shootings, because there are more white officers. Those are statistics, but without context. For that, join me in the police commissioner's conference room. On the wall behind Charles Ramsey's chair are portraits of eight officers killed in the line of duty since he arrived in 2008. Ramsey recites the officers' names and dates of death.
May 14, 2013
THIS IS GOING to surprise almost all of you. America is nearly as safe as your mother's arms. Violent crime has dropped by 50 percent since 1993, and gun homicide is down the same - 3.2 gun deaths per 100,000 Americans in 2011, contrasted with 6.6 in 1993, according to FBI statistics. There were actually more gun suicides (18,735) than homicides (11,493) in 2009, the last year reported. We are living in the safest times since the 1960s - and the plummeting gun-murder rate happened without new federal gun-control laws.
August 29, 2011 |
IN TATTLE'S continuing fascination with reality-TV programming not being satisfied until somebody actually dies on camera, here's another potentially scary scenario from TMZ.com: On the set of the returning "Fear Factor," a contestant strapped to a truck was taken to the hospital after something got in the driver's eyes and he smashed into another car. Thankfully, an ambulance was there in less than a minute. The contestant was released from the hospital with no serious injuries so there's still a chance to win . . . $50,000.
April 18, 2011 |
The news is unquestionably frightening: political turmoil at home and abroad; worries over oil, gas, and food prices; earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns . . . And that's just in the last few months. Marketers are on high alert. Doomsday is nigh! they shout online and on late-night TV as they hype "survivalist seed banks" and "apocalypse gardens" to the nervous and fearful. More than a dozen companies offer deals of up to 94,000 vegetable seeds, stored in tightly sealed buckets and "ammo boxes," that will feed a family of four for years or decades.
December 15, 2009 |
They were known as "Scooch" and "the Boss," and together they unleashed a five-year reign of terror over Luzerne County's courthouse and schools. "Scooch" is the nickname since childhood of former Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., whose real name came to strike fear into any child unfortunate enough to come before him, even for relatively minor infractions, such as writing on stop signs with a felt pen. The word in high school classrooms and halls was: If you go before Judge Ciavarella, you're likely to go to jail - especially if he's in a bad mood over Penn State's losing a football game.
November 19, 2009 |
A television reporter once asked Charles Peruto Sr., the dean of the Philadelphia criminal defense bar, for his opinion on television cameras in the courtroom. Chuck enthusiastically endorsed the idea with these insightful words (which I quote from memory): "I would point to the television camera and dare the jury to look into it and tell my client, 'Mad Dog' DiFrancesco, that he is guilty!" A shrewd judge of human nature, Chuck had identified the enhanced fear factor that courtroom cameras would introduce for juries trying violent criminals.
January 13, 2009 |
Even after he agreed to testify against former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, one-time Fumo techie Leonard P. Luchko just couldn't cut his ties to his old boss. Despite mutterings from others there, he turned up with about 30 other Fumo aides, past and present, for a dinner Nov. 25 at Scannicchio's restaurant, at Broad and Porter Streets in South Philadelphia, marking Fumo's final week in the Senate. And even after his guilty plea to charges of taking part in a Fumo cover-up, the 52-year-old computer technician, perhaps bored and angry, kept exchanging e-mails with the state senator - and sending other e-mails to news blogs and Web sites.
July 25, 2008 |
Sometimes political parties play to type so perfectly that it's almost charming. Consider the completely predictable responses of Democrats and Republicans to the record prices of oil. Both parties agree that $4 gasoline is problematic. From there, they part ways. Democrats blame the oil companies and speculators. Republicans point the finger at government interference and increased global demand. Democrats want to tax and regulate their way out of the problem by passing increased carbon-tax measures and fuel-economy standards.
May 1, 2007 |
So what sort of presidential campaign do you run if you're too liberal for conservatives, too Republican for Democrats, and you drag along a personal life too messy for moderates? Rudy Giuliani has just answered that question: He'll be counting on the fear factor. Giuliani has become the first Republican presidential candidate to enthusiastically embrace the Karl Rove strategy of scaring voters into becoming supporters. Campaigning in New Hampshire recently, Giuliani declared that if a Democrat were to be elected president in 2008, he (or she)