Archive for January, 2013

Ray Lewis murder trial in news as Ravens and 49ers prepare for Super Bowl

January 26, 2013

When Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis walks off the field after Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans Nov. 3, he will leave a legacy as one of the greatest players of all time.

Off the field, however, questions remain about the 13-time Pro Bowl selection, Super Bowl XXXV MVP, and future Hall of Famer despite numerous charitable works and a reputation for being an inspiration to his team.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 31, 2000 after Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta, two men, Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker, died of stab wounds after a fight with members of Lewis’ entourage outside a nightclub. Lewis and two friends, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were charged with murder.

Lewis later agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of justice in exchange for the prosecution dropping murder charges against him. As part of the deal, Lewis testified against Oakley and Sweeting, who were subsequently acquitted of murder charges.

I did an article on Lewis’ dual legacy of being a great player and having the stain of the murder trial. I interviewed Priscilla Lollar, the mother of slain victim Richard Lollar; Oakley, and the lawyer who represented Lewis in the case, Ed Garland. Lollar holds Lewis responsible for the death of her son. Oakley said Lewis started the incident with a verbal argument, and Garland said Lewis was truthful once he made the plea bargain (after he misled authorities).

It seems to me that Lewis has gotten tons of praise and virtually no criticism in the past decade or more. It’s only now that the Ravens are in the Super Bowl that people are bringing up the trial again, which had been largely forgotten, just like the victims in the case. Lewis has carefully cultivated a persona of being a spiritual, inspirational leader, and it doesn’t hurt that he is emotional, passionate, and expressive, which is always good for TV.

Please see my article at http://www.examiner.com/article/ray-lewis-legacy-questions-remain-from-murder-trial-for-baltimore-ravens-star.

Best autism articles of 2012: Vaccines, environmental causes, social skills and play dates

January 6, 2013
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Activities for play dates include books, sports equipment and games. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Autism news in 2012 once again centered on the dramatic increase in autism rates. In March, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that one in 88 children has autism, up 78 percent from 2002.

Scientists increasingly learned through research that autism is largely caused by environmental and man-made factors, a departure from the view held years ago that autism’s causes were nearly all genetic.

Meanwhile, educational and therapeutic interventions continued to evolve, with a strong emphasis on play skills as a way to improve social and life skills for children on the spectrum.

Links and excerpts from 10 autism articles from 2012 are below.

Autism advocates, NIH, CDC testify to Congress about research, autism increase

Autism advocates and government officials testified in front of a congressional committee Thursday about the federal response to the dramatic increase in autism diagnoses in recent years.

One in every 88 babies born in the U.S. will develop autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control, a 23 percent increase since 2009 and a 78 percent increase since 2007. In the 1960s, autism was believed to affect one in 10,000 children in the U.S.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee questioned representatives of the National Institutes of Health and CDC about research priorities and subsequent results. A second panel of autism advocates testified about concerns ranging from research to services for people with autism. See the video here.

Numerous congressmen on the committee harshly criticized the NIH and CDC for a lack of effective research results, while agency officials at times struggled to come up with answers. The safety of vaccines was discussed, an issue that NIH and CDC insists is not linked to the rise in autism. However, many parents still steadfastly believe vaccines are one of the causes of the disorder. Members of the House committee recounted instances in which parents told them of children developmentally regressing immediately after being subjected to vaccines.

To read excerpts from the articles on Examiner.com, click here.

RGIII must play better for Redskins to beat Seahawks in playoffs

January 6, 2013

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will try to lead Washington to its first playoff win in seven seasons when the Redskins (10-6) host the Seattle Seahawks (11-5) Sunday at FedEx Field.

The game features Rookie of the Year candidates Griffin and Russell Wilson. Both quarterbacks are excellent passers and can run the ball exceptionally well.

More importantly, Griffin led the Redskins from a 3-6 start to a 10-6 finish, while Wilson led Seattle to a four-game improvement from 2011.

Griffin is getting a lot of publicity from the media and love from fans, and rightfully so. Griffin has led the Redskins to five more wins than they had last year, with help from rookie running back Alfred Morris, receiver Pierre Garçon and a host of veterans.  Morris rushed for a Redskins record 1,613 yards in his rookie campaign. Morris also ran for 13 touchdowns, a Redskins rookie record.

But lost in the excitement of the Redskins making the playoffs for just the fourth time in the last two decades is the fact that Griffin didn’t have a great game in the Redskins’ 28-18 win against Dallas last week. Griffin was less accurate than usual, finishing just 9 of 18 for 100 yards and no touchdown passes, though he did run one in for a score in the huge win that got the Redskins into the playoffs.

To read the rest of my article, click here for Examiner.com and here for Bleacher Report.


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