Nice, careful, professional work by the Federal Emergency Management Agency!
After a typhoon caused extensive damage to homes along Alaska’s western coast in September, FEMA’s job was to help residents repair property damage. Since most of the residents were native Alaskans, FEMA chose Accent on Languages, a Berkeley, California company, to translate its usual instructions on how to apply for aid.
They chose…poorly. The documents victims of the typhoon received would have been right at home in the Monty Python skit that featured translation book howlers like “My hovercraft is full of eels.” The Yup’ik and Inupiaq translations were nonsense. “Tomorrow he will go hunting very early, and will nothing,” read one mysterious passage. “Your husband is a polar bear, skinny,” another said. One document had bee translated into Inuktitut, an indigenous language that nobody uses in Alaska.
FEMA fired the translation company. It appears that the words in the “translated” documents were randomly lifted taken from Nikolai Vakhtin’s “Yupik Eskimo Texts from the 1940s.” “They clearly just grabbed the words from the document and then just put them in some random order and gave something that looked like Yup’ik but made no sense,” concluded an investigator.
The company’s CEO wrote, “We make no excuses for erroneous translations, and we deeply regret any inconvenience this has caused to the local community,” adding that FEMA would be getting a refund.
1. I have a theory on mainstream media bias deniers..Maybe it’s more sympathetic than they deserve, but I think people don’t notice how sloppy, incompetent and stupid reporters and pundits are because they don’t read newspapers carefully or consistently, and because other news sources are so packed with distractions and emotional manipulation (not that newspapers are not) that it’s hard to concentrate on the details. This is why I read the Times. I figure that it’s supposed to be the best, and if the best is stupid and biased (stupid makes you biased, and vice-versa), then we can be pretty sure that the rest are worse.
It is amazing how much disinformation the Times allows, or in many cases, promotes. Here’s a trivial but telling example: Sarah Lyall is a Times reporter who also writes a column reviewing thrillers in the New York Times Review of Books, wrote recently that she always wanted to be “the Henry Fonda” of a jury, “single-handedly” “exonerating” a “wrongly accused” defendant, like “Twelve Angry Men.” This is a factually and legally false description of Reginald Rose’s script. Juror 8 (Fonda) doesn’t “single-handedly” do anything except keep deliberations going. The defendant isn’t “exonerated”—all the jury does is collectively figure out that he wasn’t proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt–you know, like OJ. And he probably wasn’t wrongly accused. In fact., he’s probably guilty. The whole point of Rose’s screenplay is that “probably” isn’t enough.
Newspapers are supposed to enlighten readers, not make them dumber. I know most people think that “Twelve Angry Men” is like mystery where someone is accused of murder and is proven innocent by a relentless sleuth, but it’s not. Did Lyall not really watch the film, meaning she was lying, or did she not understand it, indicating that she should be judged too stupid to be a reporter? The same can be said of her editor. The Times can’t get the easy things right; why would anyone trust it to analyze more complex matters more reliably? Continue reading →
I would have said “allegedly,” except that Dr. Lookhart filmed himself while he performed this stunt (which his unconscious patient had not consented to) and texted the video to at least eight people. In the text messages, Lookhart referred to his actions as a “new standard of care.”
Yes, he’s a fun dentist.
He’s also a crooked dentist when he isn’t on his hoverboard. Lockhart was charged with theft and engaging in a “scheme to defraud” Medicaid, fraudulently billing at least $1.8 million to Medicaid and stealing over $250,000 from business partners.
Last week he was convicted of all charges. Veronica Wilhelm testified against Lookhart in December, saying, “What you did was outrageous, narcissistic and crazy.” Paul Stockler, the dentist’s attorney, said in court, “I want you to know that as his lawyer, I apologize for what he did on that hoverboard.”
See what I mean? Weird. What a strange ethics alarm to be missing: “things it’s unethical to do on a hoverboard.”
Oh—-The Alaska Dental Board has suspended Lookhart’s dental license. It would have been weird if it didn’t.
So desperate were repeat journalism ethics offender Chris Cillizza and his hopelessly biased employer CNN to find a way to turn a rumor into a new topic to mock Donald Trump with, that they displayed their collective historical ignorance across the metaphorical sky like the Northern Lights, and made those silly enough to trust them more historically ignorant than they were to begin with. (Note: journalists are supposed to make us more knowledgeable, not less.)
Apparently there has been some discussion in the White House about the U.S. buying Greenland, which belongs to Denmark. Talk is cheap, and this is, if news at all, barely news.
Asked about the non-story, economic adviser Larry Kudlow told “Fox News Sunday” that the administration is “looking at” purchasing Greenland, whatever that means. It doesn’t mean much, since Denmark saysit isn’t selling, no talks are underway, no offer has been made, and the U.S. can’t afford to rebuild its infrastructure, so the idea makes about as much sense as a family on food stamps deciding to go to Disney World.
Pro Publica reports that Stebbins, Alaska, a Bering Strait village of 646 people, employed Nimeron Mike as a police officer. When he applied for the job, Mike was a registered sex offender. He had served a total of six years in various Alaska jails and prisons, and been convicted of assault, domestic violence, vehicle theft, groping a woman, hindering prosecution, reckless driving, drunken driving and choking a woman unconscious in an attempted sexual assault—and that’s not a complete list.
But he isn’t an exception or an anomaly in Stebbins, Pro Publica’s investigation found. Before he was hired, the Stebbins police chief pleaded guilty in 2017 to throwing a teenage relative to the ground and threatening to kill her after getting drunk on bootleg booze (liquor is illegal in the town.) All seven of the police officers working under him as of July 1, 2019 have pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges. Only one has received formal law enforcement training of any kind. The seven-man police force has served a combined six years in jails, prisons and halfway houses on dozens of criminal charges, and that doesn’t include Nimeron Mike, who was fired in March.
It’s a violation of Alaska public safety regulations for a police force to hire a convicted felon to work as a city police officer, but those laws idealistic aspirations and dead letters in small towns and cities where the job is considered unattractive and the pay is low. At least 14 cities in Alaska have employed police officers whose criminal records should have prevented them from being hired under Department of Public Safety regulations, with more than 34 officers currently in uniform who are supposed to be legally ineligible for these jobs. The vast majority of the illegal police hires were never reported by municipalities to the state regulatory board as required by law. Continue reading →
On a day when Ethics Alarms finally passed its high-water mark for followers, I thought it appropriate to plug Fark, one of the legion of sources I check every day to find ethics topics. It’s a facetious news aggregation site that links to both serious and obscure stories with gag intros, like this week’s header on a story about a recent study on Alzheimers: “The number of Americans with Alzheimers is expected to double in the next 40 years. That’s horrible, but did you hear that the number of Americans with Alzheimers is expected to double in the next 40 years?”
My dad loved that joke, and the older he got, the more often he told it, and the more ticked off my mother would be. An all-Fark Warm-Up is a good way to avoid (mostly) politics for a while.
1. I have no sympathy for this guy. Is that unethical? This is Mark Cropp:
He has “Devast8” tattooed on his face. He says that his brother did it when they both were very drunk, as if he was a non-participant. “Once it was started, I thought, I can’t go back on it now,” he has said. “I wish I had stopped while the outline was there to be quite honest.” Good, Mark. This is progress.
Cropp has been complaining for a year that his face tattoo has kept him from being hired. Would you hire him? I wouldn’t. Such high-profile self-mutilation is signature significance for a person with terrible judgment and life skills, or, to be brief, an idiot. Would you hire someone with “I am an idiot” tattooed on his forehead? Same thing.
Apparently he has been arrested and is facing charges in New Zealand, where he lives. Psst! Mark! Don’t have “I am guilty!” tattooed on your face while you are awaiting trial.
2. No sympathy, Part 2. I also have almost no sympathy for Beverley Dodds, who once looked like this…
…until decades of slathering herself in Coca Cola and baby oil while sunbathing and broiling herself on tanning beds caused her to have to battlethe effects of skin cancer for two decades, and has the skin of a reptile. (You don’t want me to post a photo of her skin. Trust me.) Like Mark above, this is self-inflicted mutilation. How sorry should we feel for someone who hits themselves in the head with a hammer every day who complains of headaches? Few public health issues have been so thoroughly publicized as warnings about long-term skin damage from excessive exposure to the sun and tanning beds.
3. No sympathy, Part 3. 24-year-old Michael Vigeant of Hudson, New Hampshire, a Red Sox fan on his way home via subway from Yankee Stadium after the Sox had lost to the Yankees (they won the next night though, thus clinching the division, and eliminating New York. Go Red Sox!) died when he tried to climb on top of a moving Metro-North train and was electrocuted by overhead wires. The resulting chaos trapped hundreds of riders more than two hours. His brother did it too, but was luckier, and train personnel got him down. Michael touched a catenary wire and was electrocuted, said MTA officials.
Now watch his family try to sue the city. I put “Don’t try to subway surf on moving trains,” “Don’t get huge tattoos on your face” and “Don’t repeatedly broil your skin” in the same category: lessons an adult should learn and has an obligation to observe. Not doing so suggests a general responsibility and commons sense deficit that is a menace to everyone, not just them. Continue reading →
Every day, Ethics Alarms head scout Fred sends me multiple suggestions for posts from he finds heaven-know-where. Even when I can’t fit them in, they often serve as references and always are enlightening.
1. I suspect this belongs in the Polarized Nation of Assholes files: For two years, since he returned from service combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lieutenant Commander Joshua Corney, has kept his promise to salute his fallen comrades in arms by playing a recording of Taps every evening before 8:00 p.m on his five-acre property in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania. It takes 57 seconds. It does not exceed volume limits. My dog barks longer that that every night after midnight when we put him out. Nonetheless, some of Corney’s neighbors have filed objections with the borough. Now Glen Rock, which allows church bells to ring, among other sounds, ordered Corney to limit the playing of taps to Sundays and what it termed “flag holidays.” Each violation of the borough’s order would bring a criminal fine of 300 dollars. But the borough’s enforcement action involves two big constitutional no-nos: the heckler’s veto and content-based censorship. The borough is relying on a nuisance ordinance that prohibits sound that “annoys or disturbs” others, and just one individual annoyed by the somber Civil War era bugle solo is enough to deliver a “heckler’s veto.’
“If a “heckler” could shut down anyone who said or played something that annoyed or offended them by complaining to government officials, freedom of speech would be no more. For more than 75 years, it has been black letter First Amendment law that the government cannot censor speech simply because it is not universally appreciated.
Moreover, the borough cannot use its vague nuisance ordinance to single out only Lt. Commander Corney’s musical expression for censorship from the range of sounds that are part of the borough’s regular sonic landscape. The borough has not ordered Lt. Commander Corney to lower the volume of taps or claimed he has violated a noise-level ordinance.
And it could not claim such a violation because the recording neither exceeds any established noise levels nor is it as loud as many other sounds the borough tolerates — including many sounds that do not communicate a message, like lawnmowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and vehicles. Censoring clearly protected expression, like taps, for being too loud, while allowing louder sounds that carry no constitutionally protected message turns the First Amendment on its head.”
Bingo. It is in cases like these that the American Civil Liberties Union shows how essential its role is in protecting the freedoms here that are so frequently under attack.
2. I was surprised when I learned some time ago that undercover police officers used to routinely have sexual relations with prostitutes before arresting them (homosexuals too, when they werebeing persecuted and prosecuted). Just two months ago, Michigan became the last state in the U.S. to make it illegal for police officers to have sexual intercourse with prostitutes in the course of an under-cover (or covers) sting. Now Alaska wants to go an additional step, banning “sexual contact” with “sex workers” entirely. This could be mere touching or kissing. Advocates of Alaska’s House Bill 73 and Senate Bill 112 argue that police catching sex workers in the act by engaging with them sexually is a human rights violation, and Amnesty International has made an official statement supporting that claim: “Such conduct is an abuse of authority and in some instances amounts to rape and/or entrapment.” Police, quite logically, point out that the bill would make successful undercover investigations impossible, which is, of course, the whole idea.
“[The prostitutes] ask one simple question: ‘Touch my breast.’ OK, I’m out of the car. Done. And the case is over,” Anchorage Police Department Deputy Chief Sean Case told the Alaska Dispatch News in a hypothetical example. “If we make that act (of touching) a misdemeanor, we have absolutely no way of getting involved in that type of arrest.”
Ethics Alarms is anti-prostitution. As with recreational drug use and probably polygamy, prostitution, which harms families and the young women and men exploited and abused to support it, is almost certainly on the road to legalization. Government won’t protect vital society ethics norms, but it will order you to buy health insurance because it’s for your own good. Continue reading →
Probably not one in 20 Americans could tell you three facts about William McKinley, our 25th President. He was thoroughly overshadowed by Teddy Roosevelt, the flamboyant and transformative Chief Executive who succeeded him when he was assassinated—that, by the way, is the one fact that one in 20 probably do know. Probably three-fourths of those ignorant 20 know the name Mount McKinley, however, and that it is the tallest mountain peak in the United States.
That alone was one very good reason to keep the mountain named as it was. A nation and its culture requires continuity, tradition, reverence and respect to its past, and it is important for a nation to have abundant reminders of important historical figures who would be forgotten over time without landmarks, memorials, monuments, holidays, town names, statues and streets that prompt this kind of exchange with one’s children and grandchildren:
“Who was McKinley, daddy?“
…Or Lincoln, or Washington…or Obama. A nation that respects and strengthens these bonds with its own history helps ensure that the public maintains a common understanding of the nation’s character and mission. In the case of the United States, it reinforces the vital concept ours is a nation of one people, not warring tribes and factions. This is especially true of our Presidents, who were and are the leaders of the entire nation, not just specific regions, states and nationalities. Continue reading →
“…but since this is a .357 magnum, the most powerful handgun on Earth, and will blow your head clean OFF…. I think I’ll go shopping with my little boy with this in the holster, unfastened, and bullet in the chamber!”
CBS informs us that in Wassila, Alaska, where you know who dwells, a 4-year-old boy was shot in the leg Saturday on a public sidewalkwhen his mother’s .357-caliber handgun fell out of its holster, struck the pavement on its hammer and fired.
No one has been charged, we are told.
Well, that’s cretinous, and as a society, our law enforcement has to send more responsible messages than that.
Again, as I noted here and here and here, all since the dawn of 2015, the fact that the child or an innocent bystander wasn’t killed by this reckless and stupid gunowner was pure chance, moral luck. As far as her conduct goes, there is no difference. She is the equivalent of a drunk and speeding driver. This isn’t an accident that “can happen to anyone.” This can happen to idiotic gun owners who don’t know basic gun safety and allow guns to be in the close vicinity of children. Why was her holster unfastened? Why did the gun have a bullet in the chamber? Why wasn’t she aware that what she was doing might make the gun fall? Why did she feel she had to carry a cannon of a hand-gun with her on a weekend outing to beautiful downtown Wasilla?
Charge her, prosecute her, throw her in jail, take away her gun privileges, and have child protection services investigate the home.
This has got to stop.
[But don’t call her a gun owner. She isn’t a real gun owner. Real gun owners don’t act like this. To call her a gun owner gives her dignity that she doesn’t deserve, and promotes bigotry against true gun owners, who by definition are responsible, peaceful, and observe gun safety principles at all times. If you don’t believe me, just ask the President. He understands. This is how he thinks, after all.]
KTVA (Alaska) reporter Charlo Greene reported on the Alaska Cannabis Club, medical marijuana business, during Sunday night’s broadcast without telling the station of the viewers that she owned it. As soon as the segment was over, she announced that she was the owner, and said,
“Now everything you’ve heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all of my energy toward fighting for freedom and fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska. And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice but, fuck it, I quit.”