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7/22/2004

Happytown > Happytown

Kayla LaSala and MoveOn.org

 

We should all worry that the authorities were "shocked" at the "cunning" of Kayla LaSala, the 14-year-old arrested July 13 in Altamonte Springs, on the lam from her home/prison in West Virginia (she's accused of stabbing her father 100 times). He died, and her murder trial's in September. Who would have thought the girlishly criminal teen was smart enough to cut off her electronic monitor, glue it to her cat and make a clean getaway?

Coincidentally, the downtrodden American Probation and Parole Association arrives in town this week for its annual powwow, July 25 through 28 at the Orlando Marriott World Center. Most of the program for the 1,200 expected attendees is motivational, but the resource expo gets real, trotting out the latest in satellite tracking technology, drug screenings and other methods of keeping tabs on released offenders. No wonder the APPA doesn't invite the public to share the future of penality, which will surely be able to detect felon-to-feline conspiracy. Statistics report almost 300,000 persons on probation and parole in Florida at last count, in 2002. You never know what the person sitting next to you might be running from.

Now, we know that parole/probation officers don't watch over the incarcerated, such as LaSala, or Iraqi detainees either, for that matter. Still, the professions are kissing cousins, and there's a sting and a giggle to be found in the APPA's closing-night affair, "The Zany World of Corrections." By design, the party brings a "lighthearted perspective to the heavy field of community corrections," using "humor, magic, audience participation, music and video." Thankfully, there's no mention of dog collars, leashes or any persons with a funny spelling of the name "Lynndie."

Surprise! Fox News hangs to the right. That's what 173 loaded-for-bear lefties learned July 18 when they converged on the College Park household of political activist/film buff Brian Quain for a screening of the new documentary OutFoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism.

Organized under the auspices of MoveOn.org (or, as Bill O'Reilly would call them, the Coalition of Angry Liberal Hippies) the screening was one of 3,000 such house parties taking place across the country that night. Quain said the turnout made his event (which actually included two screenings, one indoors and one out) the biggest in the state of Florida. Passions ran high, with attendees hurling hoots and catcalls at the ludicrous propaganda techniques documented in director Robert Greenwald's scrappy little picture.

Arriving on the heels of nearly a half-dozen anti-Bush documentaries released this year, OutFoxed alleges that the Fox News Channel (gasp!) blurs the line between news and commentary. The film features interviews with several former producers, writers, reporters and bookers for the network, who reveal that they were encouraged to espouse a right-wing point of view or risk losing their jobs. Recovered memos show higher-ups at Fox giving their news team instructions like, "Don't turn 9/11 into Watergate" and "Calling American soldiers Ôsnipers' carries a negative connotation; call them sharpshooters instead."

The films scores its biggest goals, though, when it uses the FNC's rat-a-tat-tat presentational style against itself. Feisty anchor O'Reilly is shown claiming that he only once told an invited guest to "shut up" – followed immediately by a lightning-fast montage of incidents that seems to put the number closer to 100.

In one of his syndicated opinion articles, O'Reilly labeled MoveOn.org as a "radical movement that never saw a left-wing issue it didn't embrace." That must sound pretty good to the crowd that made its way to Quain's place, which after hosting three such get-togethers in the last month appears well on its way to being a bulwark of local progressivism. (Next on the agenda: a July 29 meet-up timed to coincide with the Democratic Party's national convention.)

And even though some unamused soul called in a noise complaint against the proceedings, the police officer who responded showed considerable compassion, assuring that his routine visit would carry no repercussions. "It's too much paperwork," he revealed.

Hey, naysaying neighbors: Shut up.

And speaking of right-leaning news organizations, did ya hear that the Tribune Co., owner of our beloved Orlando Sentinel, got its hands slapped for cooking its circulation figures? No? The story was easy to miss, as the Sentinel buried it on page C3. What, no room in the classifieds?

It seems that Newsday and Hoy, both Tribune papers in New York state, hyped their circulation numbers a wee bit to squeeze a few extra bucks out of advertisers. The "misstatements" could cost Tribune $35 million in claims by advertisers, and were announced at the same time company officials broke the news of a 58 percent drop in Tribune's second-quarter earnings.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations condemned the papers' "deceptive and fraudulent circulation practices," and sparked an internal audit of all Tribune papers.

Naturally, we wondered if the Sentinel is cooking its books too. So we called Sentinel spokesperson Ashley Allen and asked. She said there are no such shenanigans going on here. "I think we are very conscientious with our numbers. We always have been."

So it's case closed, for the moment anyway.

Campaign press release o' the week: This week's verbatim transcription of election-season nuttiness comes from Deborah Schafer, a candidate for District No. 1 Seminole County Commission:

Caught in the act!!! Seminole county deputy caught husband, of a campaign manger red handed with their opponents 4X8 campaign sign in his possession. The sign belongs to Candidate Deborah Schafer for Seminole County Distinct 1 Commission seat. Criminal charges have been filed with the Winter Spring police department.

Due to the seriousness nature of this re-lease, Happtyown™ hole hartedly indoorses Ms. Schafer's campaign for Distinct 1.

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