Truth in Media Global Watch Bulletins

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TiM GW Bulletin 2000/9-9

Sep. 28, 2000

First Official Yugoslav Election Results 

Capital Punishment: Justice or Revenge? 

Study Shows Death Penalty Is Ineffective as Deterrent to Homicides; Stock-option Accounting Distorting the Economy ; TiM Poll Results

FROM PHOENIX, ARIZONANORTH AMERICAN AFFAIRS


HEADLINES

Phoenix               1. Capital Punishment: Justice or Revenge?

Phoenix               2. TiM Poll on Death Penalty: Let Us Know What You Think

San Diego           3. Stock-option Accounting Distorting the Economy

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1. Capital Punishment: Justice or Revenge?

Study Shows Death Penalty Is Ineffective as Deterrent to Homicides

PHOENIX, Sept. 28 - A condemned man, who won an unprecedented reprieve last June from the Texas governor George W. Bush, was executed Wednesday (Sep. 27) for killing his 12-year-old stepdaughter.  Ricky McGinn, 43, received a lethal injection at the Huntsville, Texas, prison.  He had insisted the evidence was planted or tampered with, but DNA tests completed in August again linked McGinn to the 1993 crime.

Justice served?  Henry VIII would have replied in the affirmative, as would have the Wild West lynch-mob posses.  And so did Janet Roberts, McGinn’s ex-wife and the girl’s mother, who said after watching McGinn die: “Good job, Mr. Bush. I think I can go home and sleep real good tonight. “I feel relief ... he will not breathe our air anymore. My daughter can rest in peace.”

McGinn was indeed convicted of heinous crimes - rape and homicide.  But is capital punishment really justice, or is it revenge?  After all, such an “eye for an eye; tooth for a tooth”-kind of justice is being shunned by most European countries, for example.  Even the UN War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague, a court that prosecutes crimes like mass murder and genocide, cannot convict anyone to death. Yet 24 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the death penalty was constitutionally permissible, capital punishment - a state-sponsored homicide by another name - is now being practiced in 38 of 50 American states.

In Texas alone, McGinn’s was the 232nd person executed since 1982, when the Lone Star State resumed carrying out executions.  And the pace of executions is accelerating.  This year, Texas is on track to execute 40 people, which would break the record of 37 prisoners executed three years ago.  There are 454 death row inmates in Texas awaiting executions, according to a Sep. 22 New York Times study.

Nor is Texas the worst state in this respect.  There are 576 death row inmates in California, 391 in Florida, 235 in Pennsylvania, 232 in North Carolina, 200 in Ohio, 184 in Alabama… (see the map).

Some proponents of the death penalty have argued that it serves as a deterrent to future homicides.  The Times study, based on the FBI statistics, has shown such arguments to be patently false.

“Ten of the 12 states without capital punishment have homicide rates below the national average,” the Times said, “while half the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above the national average.”  In a state-by- state analysis, the Times found that during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 percent to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty.

The homicide rate in North Dakota, for example, which does not have the death penalty, was lower than the homicide rate in South Dakota, which does have it, according to FBI statistics for 1998. Massachusetts, which abolished capital punishment in 1984, has a lower rate than Connecticut, which has six people on death row; the homicide rate in West Virginia is 30 percent below that of Virginia, which has one of the highest execution rates in the country.

Other factors affect homicide rates, of course, including unemployment and demographics, as well as the amount of money spent on police, prosecutors and prisons.

But the analysis by the Times found that the demographic profile of states with the death penalty is not far different from that of states without it. The poverty rate in states with the death penalty, as a whole, was 13.4 percent in 1990, compared with 11.4 percent in states without the death penalty.

Yet polls show that a large number of Americans support the capital punishment.  But some politicians and law officials dismiss such statistics as irrelevant on moral and pragmatic grounds.  Michigan governor John Engler, a Republican, told the Times that he was not swayed by polls that showed 60 percent of Michigan residents favored the death penalty. He said 100 percent would like not to pay taxes.

Here’s an excerpt from the Times’ report:

"I think Michigan made a wise decision 150 years ago," he said. Michigan abolished the death penalty in 1846 and has resisted attempts to reinstate it. "We're pretty proud of the fact that we don't have the death penalty," Gov. Engler said, adding that he opposed the death penalty on moral and pragmatic grounds.

In Detroit, John O'Hair, the district attorney, similarly ponders the role of the state when looking at the death penalty. Borrowing from Justice Louis E. Brandeis, Mr. O'Hair said: "Government is a teacher, for good or for bad, but government should set the example. I do not believe that government engaging in violence or retribution is the right example. You don't solve violence by committing violence."

Detroit has one of the highest homicide rates in the United States — five times more than New York in 1998 - but Mr. O'Hair said bringing back the death penalty is not the answer. "I do not think the death penalty is a deterrent of any consequence in preventing murders," said Mr. O'Hair, who has been a prosecutor and judge for 30 years. Most homicides, he said, are "impulsive actions, crimes of passion," in which the killers do not consider the consequences of what they are doing.

In Minnesota, which abolished capital punishment in 1911, 60 percent of the residents support the death penalty, said Susan Gaertner, a career prosecutor in St. Paul and the elected county attorney there since 1994. But public sentiment had not translated into legislative action, Ms. Gaertner said. "The public policy makers in Minnesota think the death penalty is not efficient, it is not a deterrent, it is a divisive form of punishment that we simply don't need," she said.

In addition to Michigan, and its Midwestern neighbors Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, the states without the death penalty are Alaska, Hawaii, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts, where an effort to reinstate it was defeated last year.”

Furthermore, as you saw in a May TiM Bulletin, the U.S. prison population now exceeds 1.86 million, according to an April 20 Reuters report, filed from Washington.

"The U.S. prison population, long the largest in the world, increased even more to 1.86 million inmates in 1999 and may surpass 2 million next year, according to a Justice Department report," the Reuters said.  

The report said the nation's prison and jail population at 1,860,520 inmates at the end of June 1999 was up 4.4 percent from the year-earlier level, the equivalent of adding 1.122 inmates each week.  From the end of 1990 to mid-1999, the prison and jail population swelled by almost 712,000 inmates, resulting in an incarceration rate of 1 for every 147 Americas, up from 1 in every 218 residents.

Although the report did not give any comparative prison figures for foreign countries, private experts have told Reuters that the United States has been followed by China with an estimated 1.2 million inmates, and Russia with about one million inmates.  But China's population is almost five times bigger than the U.S.  Which means that even this communist country's incarceration rate is about one-fifth that of the U.S.  

Like the U.S., China is also another country that uses the death penalty liberally.  most executions is China are carried out by a bullet in the back of the head.  Whereupon the prisoner’s family is billed for the cost of the bullet.  The next phase of Klinton’s Amerika, as “birds of a feather flock together?”

Furthermore, China sometimes even applies the death penalty as a means of population control and intimidation.  Here’s an excerpt from Clinton-Gore-Bush’s Baby-Killing, Christian-Hating Chinese Pals:

“Not only for the innocent Chinese infant who was murdered by the Bush-Clinton-Gore-Cheney... Beijing communist pals.  Weep for all mankind for whom the bell tolls any time an innocent life is taken, as Ernest Hemingway put it in his best-selling novel about the Spanish civil war. For, “it tolls for thee".”

And just think… in a bipartisan vote, the U.S. Senate recently passed the legislation with an overwhelming majority granting such a China special trading privileges.  Its message?  In a society where money rules, human rights and compassion are the first victims.  And “justice” is just another dirty word used to justify the crimes committed by the state against the people.  If in doubt, just look at Janet Reno’s record.

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2. Today's TiM Poll: Capital Punishment: Justice or Revenge?

PHOENIX, Sep. 28 - We invite your participation in today's TiM poll on the death penalty.  Just keep in mind that the results of any on-line poll depend on the integrity of respondents.  Which is why we ask you NOT to vote more than once.  Let’s leave the cheating to the New World Order pollsters.  Thank you.

 

(This TiM poll was started on September 28, 2000.  Please do NOT vote more than once.)

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3. Stock-option Accounting Distorting the Economy

SAN DIEGO, Sep. 24 - A San Diego Union-Tribune business columnist said in his Sep. 24 piece that stock-option accounting “overhang is an economic hangover. Or perhaps a cancer.” 

Here are some excerpts from the Don Bauder Sunday column based on a study by a Wall Street research firm:

“Stock options -- and the dubious accounting behind them -- are distorting the stock market, corporate balance sheets and the overall economy. That's the inescapable conclusion from a study by Wall Street's Bernstein Research.

According to Bernstein's Michael L. Goldstein, the intrinsic value of outstanding options at the end of last year was half a trillion dollars, equal to 35 percent of corporate debt. Gulp.

Options grants were up a whopping 57 percent last year to $101 billion, which came to 13 percent of corporate earnings. Whew!

As has been discussed in previous columns, corporations do not take these options as an expense, except under certain circumstances. Authorities such as Graef Crystal, the San Diego-based columnist for Bloomberg News, and Omaha multibillionaire Warren Buffett have railed against this accounting mirage, but to no avail.

The high techs, which abuse options the most, have too many friends in Congress.

This is how much this accounting abuse has inflated earnings: Bernstein figures that, over the last three years, had the 45 percent annual growth in option awards been expensed, earnings growth would have been 5.3 percent a year, not the 8.7 percent that was reported.

Moreover, this accounting treatment added 8 percent to 10 percent annual earnings growth over the period to high-tech stocks -- representing half the growth rate of that sector.

"The in-the-money value of unexercised options outstanding now equates to 22 percent of book value of equities," Goldstein says. "And in technology, the share is over 80 percent."

If options were treated as a liability, the debt-to-equity ratio of high techs would zoom from 16 percent to 99 percent, he says.

"It is clear that the profit growth rate in recent years has been overstated," Goldstein says. Also, "the options boom is a new source of leverage" that could boomerang if the economy turned south. […]

Goldstein says that since 1993, unrealized gains embedded in in-the-money options has risen from 2 percent of private sector wages and salaries to 14 percent.

The value of stocks underlying the in-the-money options that are not outstanding is $1 trillion. That's equal to half the stock holdings of non-millionaire households. If those in-the-money options become out-of-the-money options, the economy would certainly feel it.”

To read the rest of the Sep. 24 Don Bauder column, check out - http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/uniontrib/sun/business/news_1b24bauder.html  

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