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Street theater

"Street theater" Continued...

Issue: "Barrier riffs," Feb. 10, 2007

"The people we have here are long-term homeless," said Rother, who has worked at La Casa since February 2005. "They may not be happy with it, but they're content to stay in the trailers."

Social workers like Rother remain convinced that galvanizing incentive is crucial to success in the homeless community. "Will Smith was great in the movie. The motivation was just driving him," Rother said. "If these guys showed even a glimmer of that, there are plenty of services that could help them."

But La Casa residents and staff alike see the value in stories of individual success, either in real life or the movies. On average, 30 percent of participants stay clean and sober long enough to complete the TRP program and move on with life.

To stay motivated, "I just look for one success," Rother said.

Old school brawl

Did Barack Obama attend an Islamic madrassa during his childhood years in Jakarta, Indonesia? Did Hillary Clinton's campaign team intend to smear Obama with politically lethal connections to extremist Wahhabi Islam? Did a conservative online publication-Insight magazine-make the whole thing up?

Let election season begin (again).

The race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination took a weird turn late last month after an article on the Insight home page accused current frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) of preparing opposition research to attack a Muslim connection in the childhood of her charismatic challenger, Sen. Obama (D-Ill.).

The article quoted an anonymous source from the Clinton campaign: "The background investigation will provide major ammunition to [Obama's] opponents."

The juicy implications of the story quickly garnered attention from the Fox News network, as well as talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and Michael Savage.

CNN promptly dispatched a correspondent to Jakarta, where the deputy headmaster of Obama's elementary school assured the network, "This is a public school. We don't focus on religion."

The Hillary camp, quite sensibly, denied any connection to opposition research about Obama.

After a wild week of speculation, The New York Times weighed in with an autopsy of the "quickly-discredited" article, interviewing Insight editor Jeffrey Kuhner about the workings of a magazine that recruits anonymous reporters to scoop national stories ahead of the news curve.

While the use of unidentified sources is commonplace in the Beltway media, "To most journalists, the notion of anonymous reporters relying on anonymous sources is a red flag," the Times noted.

Kuhner declined to reveal the identities or daytime publications of the reporters who purportedly moonlight for Insight. A day after the publication of the New York Times feature story, Kuhner buried the initial article-and his string of determined response statements-in the subscriber-only portion of the website.

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