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Opinion Blogs
Summer 2015 and the Climate Change of the Atlanta Braves
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Summer 2015 and the Climate Change of the Atlanta Braves

Summer 2015 and the Climate Change of the Atlanta Braves
Photo Credit: Atlanta Braves
Braves' VP Mike Plant says the team wants LED lighting at the ballpark.  He says the quality's better for fans in the stands and watching on TV.

Summer 2015 and the Climate Change of the Atlanta Braves

What a hot start to Summer 2015. Atlanta’s already recorded record breaking temperatures and technically Summer just started last weekend. These high temperatures are not only in Metro Atlanta, but around the country as well.  Apparently these hot Summer temperatures are a trigger to meteorologists and climatologists, promoting the annual Global Warming and Climate Change discussions at the beginning of Summer.

This strategic scientific marketing is similar to sports teams rebranding and rebuilding. Marketers and General Mangers think that if they update their team’s color scheme, uniforms and build shiny new stadiums then suddenly fair-weather fans will suddenly flood the stadiums and buy the updated merchandise and follow the rebranded team without any concern for the mediocre product on the field. Yes, friends I’m complaining about the Atlanta Braves.

We’ll get back to the Braves, but Climate Change has followed a similar marketing trajectory. Why? Because Global Warming was the hot topic of the early 2000’s and was a profit driver for the Green Revolution. I’ll explain, during the 2000’s, the U.S. experienced some of the hottest years on record, alarming climatologists that the Earth was warming at an unprecedented rate. Scientists convinced businesses that the trend would continue. When the warm trends shifted and mild summers followed from 2009 onward, the marketing buzz words changed from Global Warming to Climate Change.

Earlier this year, the Atlanta Braves traded away their top 3 hitters and top two bullpen pitchers for prospects and a shot at the future. Admirably, the 2015 Braves are playing above expectations and staying fairly competitive in a weak division, but this rebuild was done at the expense of the fans and intentionally utilized to draw attention to the Braves’ new stadium, Sun Trust Park. Trust me, they’ll try to tell you otherwise. These marketers want the fans back from the 1990’s that came out to support the winning product on the field, but there’s no guarantee these new prospects will work out. I’m a huge Braves and I’ll admit that this year’s team is mediocre and wasn’t built to compete. This year’s team was sacrificed to draw attention to 2017 when the shiny new stadium will open in Cobb County and all the fans will dreamily come running back. It’s an assumption that Braves management made without clear evidence that the team would actually be better in 2017. Attendance has been dwindling over the past couple of years and the Braves needed something to convince the fans to come back. So similar to the original Global Warming scientists, the Braves’ management team has essentially played us and now expect us to stick with the team and willingly fall for their future forecasting.

Follow me here, in the early 2000’s you could not turn on the news without hearing a story about Global Warming and the detrimental impact humans were causing to Earth. The U.S. did have some insanely hot summers and the temperature trends appeared to be rising, but climatologists saw the polar ice caps melting, panicked, and alerted the world of Global Warming. Businesses saw an opportunity and the Green Revolution ensued, companies profited from the change scientists were predicting. Again, this warm trend corrected and the Summers and Winters are starting to average pre-global warming levels. The Scientist’s promise wasn’t fulfilled and we were played.

Look, I’m not denying that the earth’s climate doesn’t change and I legitimately hope that the Braves are contenders in 2017. We’ve got to be realistic and gather the research. For example, the Toronto Blue Jays haven’t made Major League Baseball’s postseason since 1993, despite predicting playoff expectations in many of those seasons.

The Earth naturally changes and humans definitely have some impact on the environment, but the Earth’s climate also changes naturally.  It may appear irregular to us, because we’re associating this shift to the limited records we have on file. We need to measure the data and be careful with our predictions, because the implications are huge on modern society. The Atlanta Braves are showing us a ray of hope, but if the rebuild fails, an new empty stadium will follow, if scientists continue their profit driven motives then their credibility will dwindle.

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News

  • Antonio Arnelo Smith was walking along a Georgia roadway in February when the first Valdosta police officer approached him. As Officer Dominic Henry questioned Smith about panhandling reported outside a nearby Walgreens, a second officer, Sgt. Billy Wheeler, came up behind Smith and, without warning, placed him in a bear hug. Moments later, Wheeler slammed Smith to the ground. “Oh my God, you broke my wrist!” Smith, 46, cried out as two more officers arrived and helped Wheeler hold down Smith. As Smith cried and screamed in pain, Wheeler advised him he was under arrest for outstanding felony warrants. The only problem: Wheeler had the wrong man. The entire interaction was captured on body camera footage. The allegations against Wheeler and the other officers are laid out in a federal lawsuit Smith’s attorney filed last month. “When you see that video, you can’t help but say this is a travesty,” Nathaniel Haugabrook, one of Smith’s attorneys, told The Associated Press. “Nobody should be done that way.” The civil rights lawsuit names as defendants the four officers involved in the stop, the police chief, the mayor, city council members, the city itself and the police department. Haugabrook said he believes his client was stopped simply because he is Black. Though Henry is Black, Wheeler and the other two officers named in the suit are white. “Obviously it has some racial tones to it,” he told the AP. Valdosta police Chief Leslie Manahan argued in a statement last month that officers did their jobs and, despite no charges being filed against Smith, that they had the right person regarding the panhandling. “We did have the right guy stopped that was causing the problem at Walgreens,” Manahan told WALB in Albany. “It’s just unfortunate he was not the one with the felony warrants.” She cited miscommunications in radio traffic as the cause of the problem. “Those are things that yes, we can work on that as an agency, and work to continue training our officers better and better communication skills with each other,” the chief said. A Black man in a hoodie Smith’s violent encounter with police stayed below the public radar until Haugabrook filed the federal lawsuit June 19. Valdosta police officials issued a lengthy statement a few days later, along with one officer’s body camera footage. That footage, taken from Wheeler’s camera, fails to show the actual takedown of Smith because when Wheeler placed him in a bear hug, Smith’s back was pressed against the lens. The AP reported that additional body camera footage was not released until after the Valdosta Daily Times published footage obtained from Haugabrook. See the initial body camera footage released by Valdosta police officials below.  Read the Valdosta Police Department’s entire statement here.  Smith was at Walgreens around noon Feb. 8 awaiting some money his sister was sending him via Western Union, according to a March 20 letter, called an ante litem notice, Haugabrook sent to Valdosta city officials warning of the impending lawsuit. Both Henry and Officer Rachel Hinton had gone to the pharmacy in response to the call about a panhandler bothering customers. Each would encounter a man fitting the description given by employees: a Black man wearing a brown hoodie, according to police. Court documents state that Hinton stopped a man for questioning on the north side of the pharmacy. She asked Henry to check the west side of the building for anyone else who could be the alleged panhandler. En route to the side of the building, Henry encountered a customer who told him the man had walked south out of the parking lot. Read attorney Nathaniel Haugabrook’s ante litem notice to Valdosta city and police officials below.  “While (Hinton) was running the identification provided by the (first) subject, it was learned that he had active felony arrest warrants,” Valdosta police officials said. “This police band communication between the first officer and dispatch was overheard by other officers arriving at the location. “At approximately same time, (Henry), on the opposite side of the store, located (Smith) walking in a southern direction away from Walgreens. The officer made contact with the subject, explaining to him that he was investigating a report of a suspicious person at Walgreens.” Smith gave Henry his identification and explained why he was in the area, according to the letter submitted with the federal lawsuit. In the video, Smith questions why he was stopped and appears upset but does not appear to pose a threat to the officer. “I’m waiting for the Western Union,” Smith tells Henry. “Call my sister right now in Florida. You have a cellphone. Call her.” “Call who?” Henry asks. “Call my sister in Florida,” Smith responds. He pleads with Henry: “Don’t do this.” ‘Oh my God, what are you doing?’ At that point, Wheeler, who had quietly come up behind Smith, grabs him by both arms from behind and puts him in a bear hug. Wheeler never announced his presence to Smith. “What are you doing?” a startled Smith says. “Oh my God, what are you doing?” Wheeler tells him to put his hands behind his back, a command he cannot follow because his arms are pinned at his sides. “Put your hands behind your back like you’re told,” Wheeler says, his face resting on Smith’s back as he holds him in place. A bewildered Smith again asks what Wheeler is doing, crying out as the officer picks him up and slams him onto the ground. Moments later, as the other two officers, identified in the lawsuit as Patrick Barrett and Hudson Durden, try to help get Smith into handcuffs, Smith cries out that Wheeler has broken his wrist. “Yeah, he might be broke,” Wheeler is heard saying. Watch the body camera footage obtained by The Associated Press below.  About a minute later, the officers remove the handcuffs and call for an ambulance. Smith questions why he is being arrested. “We have a warrant for your arrest,” one officer tells him. Henry corrected the officer, indicating that the man with active warrants had been taken into custody by Hinton. “The other guy is over there,” Henry says, pointing toward the pharmacy. “They pointed out two different people. They got the guy with a warrant.” He points down at Smith. “This guy, I just got contact with him,” he says. The video shows that the officers let Smith up off the ground. According to court documents, he left before the ambulance arrived. “As the video clearly demonstrates, each of the officers’ facial expressions and comments confirm that a grave and serious error had taken place when Sgt. Wheeler arrested and slammed Mr. Smith to the ground,” Haugabrook’s letter to Valdosta officials read. “Although an ambulance was called to the scene, Mr. Smith, scared and wanting to get away from the officers, refused treatment and walked away from the scene holding his arm.” He later went on his own to South Georgia Medical Center, where doctors confirmed that both his radius and ulna, the long bones of the forearm, were fractured at the wrist, court records show. According to Haugabrook, the fractures did not heal properly because Smith was unable to find transportation to the specialist he was referred to. Inconsistencies Smith’s lawsuit accuses Wheeler and Henry of falsifying their reports on the incident. Wheeler’s report stated that Henry asked Smith to put his hands behind his back, which the video proves was not the case. The statement from Valdosta police officials also contains inconsistencies with the video footage that paint Smith’s encounter with the officers in a false light. “The responding officer (Wheeler) approached the subject and advised him to place his hands behind his back,” the statement read. “The subject did not and began to resist by pulling his arms forward and tensing his body.” The video shows that while Smith questioned what Wheeler was doing, he did not try to resist or pull away. The city’s statement also stated that officials there are “fully committed to transparency,” though at that time, they released only a portion of the existing body camera footage. The lawsuit argues that neither Henry nor Wheeler had justification for physically restraining Smith because they had not determined whether he had committed a crime or if he had outstanding warrants. At one point in the footage, Wheeler asks Henry whether Walgreens wanted to obtain a criminal trespass warrant against Smith, the lawsuit states. “I don’t know. I had, I hadn’t even asked them,” Henry responds, according to the document. Manahan defended Wheeler’s actions to WALB last month. “He still thinks the subject has felony warrants. When you are dealing with someone with felony warrants, you kinda want to move quick, really for the safety of everyone involved,” Manahan told the news station. Read Antonio Arnelo Smith’s federal lawsuit below.  Wheeler has been on the Valdosta police force for nearly 23 years, the lawsuit states. In that time, he has taken “use of force” courses annually. “Since 2017, Defendant Wheeler has also received training in the Governor’s Initiative – De-Escalation Options for Gaining Compliance,” the document states. Haugabrook is arguing that the Valdosta Police Department routinely receives calls about suspicious people, many of whom have committed no crime. In those situations, officers’ actions are restricted by constitutional rules. “Here, Defendant Wheeler violated those rules whereas Mr. Smith had committed no crime that would justify his arrest. Defendant Henry, the lead investigating officer on the scene was simply checking Mr. Smith’s identification and questioning him to determine if he was the suspicious person complained about at Walgreens,” the lawsuit states. “Even if Mr. Smith had been the suspicious person, the consequences would have been a criminal trespass warning to stay off Walgreens’ premises.” The lawsuit claims illegal seizure, unlawful detention, excessive force, assault and battery by excessive force, false arrest/false imprisonment, negligent hiring and training on the part of the department, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy to violate Smith’s rights. Smith also accuses Henry of failure to intervene. “Defendant Henry had a realistic opportunity to prevent Defendant Wheeler from grabbing and slamming Mr. Smith to the ground. It would have been as simple as holding out his hand or saying, ‘Stop,’ the lawsuit states. “Defendant Henry did neither.” The lawsuit does not specify the monetary damages being sought. In the March letter to Valdosta officials, however, Haugabrook presented a settlement demand of $700,000. Haugabrook is seeking more than money for his client, however. According to the AP, the attorney wants to see meaningful change in the Valdosta Police Department. “We will cross the next bridge as it comes and hopefully we get this matter solved in a manner that prevents these sorts of mistakes, this sort of conduct from happening in the future,” the attorney told WALB.
  • Monday evening was a “peaceful” experience for the Georgia National Guardsmen who have been dispatched in response to last weekend’s surge of violence in Atlanta and the ransacking of the Georgia State Patrol’s headquarters, according to their commander. So far, they have not made any arrests and no Guardsmen have been injured.  Riding in Humvees, the troops — who are armed — will be out on duty again Tuesday evening in keeping with the emergency declaration Gov. Brian Kemp issued following the fatal shootings that left four dead in Atlanta, including an 8-year-old girl. Set to expire July 13, Kemp’s order empowers the Guardsmen to apprehend lawbreakers.  Related: Kemp to deploy 1,000 National Guard troops after violent weekend On Monday evening, the Guardsmen stood watch at the state Capitol in downtown Atlanta, the Governor’s Mansion in Buckhead and the recently vandalized Department of Public Safety building in southeast Atlanta. The troops are seeking to free up police for other law enforcement duties, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden Jr., Georgia’s adjutant general. Citing security concerns, Carden declined to say precisely how many Guardsmen have been deployed, though Kemp’s order calls for up to 1,000.  “At the end of the day,” Carden said, “we are primarily staffed, trained and equipped to protect our nation – our citizens – against foreign adversaries. It is disappointing to me that once again we are having to use our personnel, equipment and training to protect Americans and their property from other Americans.”  At least 93 people were shot in Atlanta between May 31 and June 27, roughly double the number from the same span a year ago. On Sunday, a crowd of at least 60 busted out the windows of the Georgia State Patrol headquarters, and someone threw a homemade grenade into a supervisor’s office in the building, authorities said.  >>Read MORE on AJC.com.
  • An 80-year-old golfer was accidentally struck by a bullet intended for a groundhog in Lomira, Wisconsin Monday. Law enforcement officials are describing the event as an accidental shooting. When a 50-year-old man was shooting at a groundhog on his property, one of several rounds that he fired hit a tree and then struck the golfer while he was on the course at.The Golf Club at Camelot, according to WITI. The golfer was taken to a nearby hospital and his injuries are not considered life-threatening. The Dodge County Sheriff, Dale Schmidt, urged people to be cautious when using firearms. “When shooting firearms, it is always very important to know your target and beyond. Firearms are capable of shooting long distances and it is always necessary to have a backstop that can sufficiently stop a bullet from traveling beyond that which is desired,” Schmidt told WITI. Police are still investigating the incident.
  • You may be seeing social media posts promoting #BlackOutDay2020, but what is Black Out Day? Here are five things to know. 1. Blackout Day is persuading Black Americans to not spend money today, to show their economic power. If something needs to be purchased, the movement urges spending money at Black-owned businesses, CNN reported. It’s called a “day of solidarity in America where not one Black person in America spends a dollar,” unless it is spent at a Black-owned business, USA Today reported. Nielsen reports that Black Americans spent more than $1 trillion in 2018, according to CNN. 2. The day was promoted by Calvin Martyr, a social media personality/activist, for about two months. 3. Martyr and those taking part are hoping the day helps to end institutional racism that they have said lead to the deaths of Black Americans, CNN reported. It started after the death of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, but before the death of George Floyd. 4. Martyr likened to the spending boycott to the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott when the Black community refused to ride buses until they were allowed to sit wherever they wanted. 5. My Black Receipt is a related movement that urges for people to upload receipts of money spent at minority-owned businesses, USA Today reported.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department on Monday released loan-level data on each of the more than 4.9 million loans made under the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. The program was established in March by the CARES Act, aimed at shoring up small businesses struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities said the funds were meant to give business owners incentive to keep their employees on payrolls. Data released Monday includes the names of more than 660,000 businesses that received loans of $150,000 or more. A majority of the program’s beneficiaries -- about 80% -- asked for loans under that amount, with most seeking about $100,000, according to officials. >> See the full data released by SBA and the Treasury Department In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the program has helped to support 'more than 51 million jobs and over 80 percent of all small business employees.' Under the program, the government is backing $659 billion in low-interest business loans that will be forgiven if employers use the money on payroll, rent and similar expenses. Companies typically must have fewer than 500 workers to qualify. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Atlanta’s fire chief has opted to self-quarantine pending the results of a COVID-19 test, one day after the city’s mayor announced that she tested positive for the virus.  Randall Slaughter is being tested for the coronavirus “out of an abundance of caution,” Atlanta Fire and Rescue spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford confirmed to AJC.com on Tuesday.  “He will also be in quarantine until his results return and will move forward based on those results,” Stafford said.  Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Monday announced that she tested positive for the virus.  “COVID-19 has literally hit home,” Bottoms wrote. “I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive.” — Please read more on AJC.com for updates.