09 July 2011

Poverty, civilian war deaths can't rival Anthony verdict

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Increased U.S. unemployment estimates released Friday rattled the investment class as stock prices slipped, thwarting already slim hopes for any sign of an economic recovery this year. “The United States is in the grips of its gravest jobs crisis since Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House,” reports Catherine Rampbell.

U.S. Labor Department unemployment rates, which measure only those people who report looking for work over the last four weeks, are misleading because they do not include underemployed or discouraged workers. Since 1995 the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a unit of the Labor Department, devised the broader U-6 classification to include persons “marginally attached” to the labor market. The U-6 unemployment rate for June 2011 is 16.2 percent and some alternative estimates are even higher: 22.8 percent, according to shadowstats.com.

Meanwhile, halfway around the world, U.S-led NATO forces conceded on Thursday that they “had unwittingly killed several women and children a day earlier during an early morning air attack against militants” in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan, triggering outrage in nearby villages and further eroding the fragile relationship between the Afghan government and western authorities.

But what is galvanizing America’s attention? While there is no single answer, one frontrunner has to be the outrage over the jury decision earlier this week that acquitted Casey Anthony, a 25-year-old mother, on charges that she killed her two-year-old daughter in 2008. It seems that the public who listened to 30-second trial reports by the mainstream news media, or watched portions of the exhaustive TV coverage of the trial, or nodded in agreement with the invective as analysis from the likes of CNN crime news pundit Nancy Grace, the angry former prosecutor, know more than the 12 jurors who listened to all the evidence and arguments made by Anthony’s defense team and the Florida prosecution. The jury took a single day to reach its decision that Anthony was guilty of only four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to law enforcement authorities, suggesting the prosecution’s case was at best unconvincing.

The U.S. economy is tanking and after almost a decade in Afghanistan the American military cannot distinguish between militants and civilians, or doesn’t think it’s that important, yet neither warrant the public anger directed against a single individual. It is so much easier to beat up on a flawed person than to tackle systemic injustices that create misery for millions of people.

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