Archive for March, 2010

Tea Party Takes Health Care Message to Kratovil

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

BEL AIR, Md. – Protest signs went up, “Don’t Tread on Me” flags waved and car horns blasted outside Rep. Frank Kratovil’s Bel Air office Tuesday night as Maryland’s Tea Party movement rallied to press for a no vote from Kratovil on the health care bill.

About 200 people came to send a message to Kratovil, D-Stevensville, by rallying outside his Main Street office for two hours.

Tony Passaro, an organizer with the Bel Air Tea Party Patriots, said his group wants to reform the health care system, but not if it means turning it over to more government control.

“We’re just against big government doing health care reform,” Passaro said. “We’re afraid that if you leave that much money and that much power to the federal government, they’ll lose control of it.”

Kratovil, a moderate Democrat who voted against the health care bill passed by the House in November, has said he will vote no if, as expected, the House is asked to pass the Senate version of the bill.

After almost a year of public debate, House Democratic leaders are trying to round up 216 votes to pass the Senate version of the bill by this weekend, which is the most viable way to move the legislation forward after Senate Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority with the election of Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.

Kevin Lawlor, a Kratovil spokesman in Bel Air for the protest, said the congressman’s position hasn’t changed; he will vote no on the Senate bill, but will reserve judgment on any proposed fixes that might come later.

When asked about the proposed “Slaughter solution,” a complicated parliamentary tactic that would allow House Democrats to pass the Senate bill without a direct vote, Lawlor said Kratovil is more focused on the bill’s content.

“He’s been in favor of transparency the entire time,” Lawlor said. “In the long run, he knows he’s going to have to answer for this bill.”

–Text by Capital News Service’s Graham Moomaw, video by Maryland Newsline’s Ben Giles, with Moomaw

Study Finds Disproportionate Arrests for Blacks Declining, But Not in D.C.

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

The disproportionate percentage of blacks arrested for homicides in the United States has generally been improving, but in a few cities, including Washington, D.C., the gap between black and white arrests for this crime has worsened during the past 40 years, according to a report released this week by three universities.

The D.C. race gap for homicide arrests has grown nearly three-fold since the 1960s, according to the study’s findings. Meanwhile, the nationwide discrepancy between the number of blacks and whites arrested for this violent crime has lessened.

“It’s fair to say that there is overall less inequality in the United States,” said Dr. Gary LaFree, director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, who as part of the research also considered other areas of inequality, such as education and unemployment. He explained that as general inequality lessened in the country, so did crime rates.

But, he added, “Washington is one of those pockets where [the race-crime gap] is worse than it was in 1960. It’s a really urgent issue.”

He said he hopes that these results will create more awareness of the problem.

LaFree said researchers at the University of Maryland, Florida State University and ther University of Oregon went through the Eisenhower and Kerner Commission reports of the 1960s to see if the predictions on race and crime were born out over the past four decades. They reviewed FBI arrest data from 1960 to 2000, comparing it to census data.

Although the 80-city study showed there have been some improvements with crime rates, there is still a long way to go to eliminate crime and racial gaps, LaFree said.

-By Maryland Newsline’s Daniela Feldman

Women Sexualize Themselves Online in Bids for Attention, Speakers Say

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
Dancer Gesel Mason and panel moderator Dr. Michelle Rowley talk about Internet identities for women. (Photo by Maryland Newslines Melissa Quijada)

Dancer Gesel Mason and panel moderator Dr. Michelle Rowley talk about Internet identities for women. (Photo by Maryland Newsline's Melissa Quijada)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Women sexualize themselves on the Internet to build their self-esteem and gain attention, said speakers during a forum last week at the University of Maryland.

Sexually provocative images of women often appear on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Myspace and blogs, said Gesel Mason, a modern dancer and art director, and Alice Marwick, a doctoral student at New York University studying Internet identity.

“We get attention, approval and validation for some of the things we put online,” said Marwick, during the discussion of “Internet Identity: Women in a Virtual World.” “With the Internet, we represent ourselves in any way we want.”

“It’s very interesting,” said Mason, “how the Internet sort of gives you this sense of anonymity,” yet it shapes how other people see you.

Marwick’s dissertation at New York University, “Becoming Elite: Status in Social Media Communities” -– examines status hierarchies within social media circles. It’s mostly based on her online and offline observations and interviews with corporate workers in the San Francisco Bay Area, she said.

Many of the women she observed published sexually suggestive pictures of themselves online in which their body language and facial expressions emulated celebrities or others from subcultures such as the fashion community, Marwick said.

She said women in general build their self-esteem through these pictures they share on social media communities.

Some audience members said they noticed that women manipulated their images online to portray themselves as sexually attractive.

“Women have more of a desire to be attractive than men on the Internet,” said student Morgan Pitts, 19, from Bowie, Md. “I feel like women have more courage on the Internet, because they are not in direct contact with people.”

–by Maryland Newsline’s Melissa Quijada

Mason’s newest project, “Women, Sex & Desire: Sometimes you Feel like a Ho, Sometimes you Don’t,” explores through dance and multimedia the struggle of women as sexual beings. For the project she interviewed women from the group Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive and analyzed women in music videos. Her project will debut March 27 at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.

Washington Post Launches New iPhone App

Friday, March 5th, 2010

The Washington Post this week unveiled its latest mobile application, the Washington Post App for the iPhone.

The software enables readers to customize Post news on their iPhone and iPod Touch by allowing them to create their own home page and navigation settings. It is available for $1.99 from the App Store.

The Post joins the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and NPR, among others, as news organizations with mobile apps for the iPhone.

However, the Post is starting off by charging consumers, while others have offered their applications for free.

“This app is an experiment, and we are interested in seeing how people interact with a news application, especially one that is a subscription,” said Jennifer Lee, manager of communications for the Post. “We are always thinking about how to reach on-the-go readers so they can access The Post anytime, anyplace.”

The Post’s entry underscores that news organizations that want to stay viable must have a mobile presence — especially if they want to reach a younger audience. Eighty percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are wireless Internet users, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

“We have a very ambitious mobile strategy and are looking at every mobile device and platform,” Lee said.

–By Maryland Newsline’s Zettler Clay IV

Delegate Returns to Assembly After Long Absence

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

After weeks of working at home due to a knee injury, Delegate Mary Roe Walkup, R-Kent, returned to the State House Monday eager to get back to work.

“I’m going to be very busy,” said Walkup, who sits on the House Economic Matters Committee. Walkup said she was happy to be back in Annapolis and “ready to get into the hard work” of the second half of the legislative session.

Walkup, 85, slipped on the stairs in the House office building on the second day of the session and injured her knee.

At first, Walkup thought it was just bumped, she said. But a doctor’s examination showed the severity of the damage — a cracked kneecap, which would require a long recovery.

“You have to take care of these things,” Walkup said. Having been a registered nurse herself, Walkup said she was very aware of how important it is not to rush the healing process. And it could have been much worse.

“Fortunately, I didn’t need surgery,” Walkup said.

She spent several weeks recuperating at her home in Kent County, under doctor’s orders not to put pressure on her knee. Her daughter helped her around the house, and modern technology made sure she didn’t fall too far behind on work.

Back in Annapolis, Walkup’s sole staff member, 22-year-old Legislative Aide Kevin Waterman, kept in regular contact by phone, fax and e-mail, and attended meetings as her representative.

“This is my first session,” Waterman said. “So it’s been an interesting experience.”

Waterman was even able to submit Walkup’s bills to the House chief clerk on her behalf, an unusual bending of rules stating that a bill must be personally filed by its lead sponsor.

Walkup said her priority in her first week back is to study up on the bills before the Economic Matters Committee. Between her injury and the absences of other delegates due to last month’s snowstorms, there’s a lot of catching up for everyone to do.

“The committees weren’t doing as much work, because not everyone was here,” Walkup said. “I kind of expected us to have to begin to jam things together and work longer.”

Walkup, who has served in the House since 1995, said she was greeted with warm applause upon her return Monday night.

“I had a fantastic welcoming,” Walkup said. “I was very flattered … people were so kind to say so many nice things about getting me back.”

– By Capital News Service’s Daniel Leaderman