Motorcyclist protesting helmet laws dies of head injuries

From The Associated Press:

ONONDAGA, N.Y. — Police say a motorcyclist participating in a protest ride against helmet laws in upstate New York died after he flipped over the bike’s handlebars and hit his head on the pavement.

The accident happened Saturday afternoon in the town of Onondaga, in central New York near Syracuse.

State troopers tell The Post-Standard of Syracuse that 55-year-old Philip A. Contos of Parish, N.Y., was driving a 1983 Harley Davidson with a group of bikers who were protesting helmet laws by not wearing helmets.

Troopers say Contos hit his brakes and the motorcycle fishtailed. The bike spun out of control, and Contos toppled over the handlebars. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Cory Maye, once sentenced to die for an act of self-defense, is going home

The old ways die hard, especially in Mississippi. A mistaken drug raid led to the death of a white police officer and a death sentence for an innocent black man. Now, after ten years in jail, Cory Maye is being allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter and go home.  This is a fascinating and ugly story, and I’m linking to  Huffington Post because the standard newsorgs are a little slow on the uptake with this one.

To read Radley Balko’s coverage, click here.

First they came for the kindergarten teachers …

In Inside Higher Ed, Professor Richard Greenwald argues that academics must come to the aid of their K-12 colleagues, who, you may have noticed, are currently under attack.

. . . Teachers have become, for lack of a better wor[d], the enemy. Teachers are the problem.

Charter schools, high-stakes testing, and alternative teacher training programs are the new normal. Teachers, and especially their unions (both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association) are now widely seen as obstacles to reform. The teacher unions are holding back change and hurting our kids — and teachers are overpaid for a job with summers off, or so the assault goes.

A cover story last year in the Sunday’s New York Times Magazine depicts a circle of national reformers who have vilified the teachers’ unions and see collective bargaining as the clear enemy — previewing what happened in Wisconsin by a few months. How did we get here? When did teachers become the main problem of the K-12 educational system? There have always been problem teachers (we have either had one ourselves or have children who have). But by most evidence, teachers by and large are good, dedicated and caring professionals who work hard at a very difficult job.

It has to stink to be a teacher these days, especially one in an underperforming urban district. Mandated testing, lack of resources and precarious job security are constant. Teachers in many states are waiting for pink slips, watching state budgets and hoping for the best.

Pundits are demanding that tenure be abolished and the workday lengthened. Some are also arguing that we neehard to master the skills necessary to become great teachers. They want to see improvement and change and they know it will not be easy, as they will sacrifice much in the process. But, for them it will all be worth it if they reach just that one kid. More after the break.

Perhaps getting out of town would be a good idea

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Investigators looking into cheating on standardized tests in the Atlanta Public Schools delivered a voluminous report Thursday to Gov. Nathan Deal — the same day that Superintendent Beverly Hall concluded her 12-year tenure.

Deal is expected to make the report public as early as Tuesday, after his staff briefs members of the Atlanta school board, lawmakers and Mayor Kasim Reed, said Brian Robinson, the governor’s spokesman. “There are people who must hear about it before it’s released to the media.”

Alleged criminal acts detailed in the report are likely to be referred to district attorneys for possible prosecution in at least three counties: Fulton, DeKalb and Douglas.

Hall, 64, made no public appearances in her final days as superintendent and has not announced her plans.

I never liked Ozzie and Harriet, anyway

From The Associated Press:

WASHINGTON – For the first time, more than half of the children under age 2 in the U.S. are minorities, part of a sweeping race change and a growing age divide between mostly white, older Americans and fast-growing younger ethnic populations that could reshape government policies.

Preliminary census estimates also show the share of African-American households headed by women — mostly single mothers — now exceeds African-American households with married couples, reflecting the trend of declining U.S. marriages overall.

The findings, based on the latest government data, offer a preview of final 2010 census results being released this summer that provide detailed breakdowns by age, race and household relationships.

Demographers say the numbers provide the clearest confirmation yet of a changing social order, one in which racial and ethnic minorities will become the U.S. majority by midcentury.

To continue reading, click here.

A Chain Gang moment: Woman arrested for possesion of video camera

After receiving national attention, Rochester authorities drop charges against citizen who took video of traffic stop. While there are two sides to the story, police are gong to have to get used to the fact that they’re not the only ones who can collect evidence or document crimes and arrests.  It’s also been reported that police responded to a protest rally by pulling out rulers and writing tickets for cars parked more than 12 inches from the curb. Way to build community support, guys.  I see “How to respond properly when being YouTubed” training sessions in the future for the Rochester Police Deparment.

To see the video in question, click here.


At the start of court Monday, City Court Judge Jack Elliott announced that the television show Inside Edition had asked to film the criminal proceedings against Emily Good. Elliott denied the request, but the interest from the cable show was typical of the national interest in the case against a local activist arrested while videotaping a May 12 police stop in front of her home.

The court session Monday was brief, however, as the District Attorney’s Office asked for the charge against Good to be dismissed. There was not evidence to support the particular criminal charge of obstructing governmental administration, First Assistant District Attorney Sandra Doorley said. For Good and her supporters, the dismissal of the criminal charge was proof that she had been wronged when she was arrested by Rochester police.

“I’m feeling very good, vindicated,” Good, 28, said after court. “It wasn’t a crime.” The video of Good’s arrest has gone viral, attracting nationwide news coverage, i ncluding a live interview with Good on CNN. Though the criminal charge against Good was a lone misdemeanor count, her arrest became the centerpiece of a debate over the police response. Good supporters maintain that the Rochester officer was peeved at Good’s videotaping and arrested her without legal cause. Others claimed the arrest was justified, the proper answer to a meddling woman who could have put the officers’ and others’ lives at risk.