|Search news by keyword||Category||Date Range|
Tom – The story provided some basic information about the Single business tax, noting that it provided roughly a quarter of the state of Michigan’s general fund. The story also noted that this money primarily goes toward “state police and protection and community health.” The rest of the story is devoted to politics with the issue being framed around the political maneuvering involved in repealing the SBT. All the people interviewed in the story are politicians, such as Governor Granholm or State Senator Jerry Kooiman. And their comments are of course very partisan, accusing each other of using the SBT issue for political gain. No non-partisan voices where provided, voices which could have given the viewer information on what the repeal of the Single Business Tax means for the citizens of Michigan.
Linda – So what other information could have been included? What are some of the things being said about this tax repeal?
Tom – The story was quite vague on what revenue brought in by the SBT is used for, noting just State police and community health. The General fund, which the SBT revenue is part of, includes police and prisons, revenue sharing for cities, social welfare programs and education. No replacement tax for the SBT has been created yet so it is impossible to say how this repeal of the SBT will impact these services. Also not mentioned in the story is who pays the SBT and just how bad a tax is it? Of the 250,000 businesses in Michigan, only about 100,000 pat the SBT, and those are larger businesses. In two recent national studies that rank the tax climate in states, Michigan came in 26th and 33rd for business tax burden.
Linda – On August 13 the Grand Rapids Press ran an article with the headline Stabenow: Homeland Security isn’t doing enough. Jeff Smith what would readers have learned from this story?
Jeff - This article is a reaction to the recent "terrorist plot" in a London airport. Incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow and her GOP challenger Mike Bouchard are both cited in this article about their concerns for national security. The article mentions a funding bill in the Senate, but no bill name or number of the bill is provided. Beyond the issue of funding for communication amongst police, fire department and homeland security personnel there is no information on both Stabenow or Bouchard's position on security issues. The reporter also does not clarify what Bouchard means when he says "(Thursday's) announcement shows our enemies remain relentless in their efforts to target us." Is it clear what Bouchard means when he says "enemies?"
Linda – Were there any other articles in the Press on this race that day?
Jeff – There was another short article about comments made by Bouchard at a GOP rally in Grand Rapids. The article was talking about how in Bouchard’s last political ad it used his protective stance with his daughter as a way to discuss his commitment to national security. He is quoted as saying “If there are any boys in the audience, forget it.” But assured the crowd, “No boyfriends were hurt in the making of the commercial.” One question listeners can ask themselves is if the Press had space to run this comment, why not run comments about what both Stabenow and Bouchard’s position on national security really are?
Linda – We will provide a link to the Election Watch 2006 section of the GRIID site.
Linda – On Friday, Aug 11 WZZM 13 ran a story about the UN ceasefire plan for Lebanon. Tom, what would viewers have learned from this story?
Tom – The story states that the UN security council, lead by the US and France, had finally created a cease fire plan and that Israel and Lebanon had agreed to it. According to the story, the plan calls for an immediate end to the fighting, the withdrawl of Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon, as well as a phased withdrawal of the Israeli army from Lebanon as it is replaced with a force of UN peace keepers. The story then recaps some of the recent events and fighting in the area, and plays clips of Condi Rice and UN secretary general Kofi Annon. The story ends with the reporter stating “Lebanon had been opposed to part of the resolution that allowed peacekeeping forces to use broad military firepower.”
Linda – Is there other relevant information about this Ceasefire agreement that was not included?
Tom – One thing left out of the story was the response from Hezbollah. While Hezbollah did tentatively agree to the ceasefire on the condition that Israel withdraw, this as not actually mentioned in the story. Another item not mentioned in the piece is that according to the cease fire agreement, Hezbollah is required to stop all attacks while the Israeli armed forces are still permitted to take “defensive” actions if necessary. This provision does not clearly define what is meant be the term “defensive”, leading commentators such as Robert Fisk of the Independent to note that this cease fire could easily come undone if Israel exercises this “defensive” action clause to justify renewed military operations in Lebanon. Nor does the news story note which countries would be willing to contribute forces to the UN peacekeeping force, especially in light of the failure of a similar international peace keeping force in Lebanon 25 years ago.
Linda – On Saturday, August 12 the Grand Rapids Press ran an article in the entertainment section of the paper on the US government’s increase of funding for a radio & TV program designed to overthrow the government of Cuba. Jeff Smith, what would readers have learned from this article?
Jeff – The Associated Press article was about how Congress recently increased funding for Radio and TV Marti, a 21 year old effort by the US to overthrown the government of Cuba. Based out of Miami, the programs are broadcast into Cuba to encourage people to rise up against Fidel Castro. The article cites three sources, Wayne Smith head of the US interests sections in Cuba from 1979 to 1985 and Pedro Roig, who runs the US Office of Cuba Broadcasting, both of which are supportive of the funding. Also cited is Tomas Bilbao, with the Cuban Study group, which the AP story claims is a non-partisan organization.
Linda – What wasn’t in the article that listeners might find useful?
Jeff – What the article didn’t include was the fact that Radio and TV Marti employees 150 people to create news and original programming, and that a plane was also recently purchased for $10 million to help boost the broadcast signal into Cuba. There is no discussion in the article about how these radio and TV programs are part of a larger effort to overthrown the government of Cuba, nor the relationship it has to the Cuban exile community in Florida. I mentioned that the article cites someone from the Cuban Study Group, which the AP story claims is a non-partisan organization. The fact is that the group is made up of mostly businessmen who have direct financial interests in Cuba and have as their stated goal to assist in regime change in Cuba.