Sunday, December 21st, 2014

PolitiFact Georgia roasts pants, brightens lives

AJC PolitiFact Georgia does not roast chestnuts on an open fire. We roast pants.
AJC PolitiFact Georgia does not roast chestnuts on an open fire. We roast pants.

Nothing beats a good, warm fire to brighten our lives during these frigid winter days.

So last week, AJC PolitiFact Georgia set two pairs of pants ablaze.

The first Pants On Fire ruling belonged to TV and radio host Glenn Beck, who compared a real Ohio town to fictional Bedford Falls of the classic holiday movie "It's a Wonderful Life."

The second belonged to AMC hit show "The Walking Dead," which blew up Atlanta's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the Zombie Apocalypse.

Some pairs survived intact. President Barack Obama did OK and a crime ranking earned a Half True, but the britches of the National Football League Players Association got singed.

Join us on Twitter and Facebook to comment and read our latest updates.

NFL Players Association: An NFL lockout would cost Atlanta $160 million in lost jobs and revenue.

Imagine Sunday afternoons next fall without the Dirty Birds.

The organization that represents players for the Atlanta Falcons and the National Football League's 31 other teams warned it could happen next year if players and owners don't reach a labor agreement.

The financial impact: $160 million, according to a Nov. 22 letter to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Would it really be that high?

The union based its estimate on economic impact studies done on 10 different NFL franchises since 2000. The economist concluded that the average NFL game has $20 million worth of economic impact for a city.

The NFL Players Association multiplied that by eight, the number of regular-season games each team hosts, and got $160 million.

But each independent expert we contacted thought a strike would have little economic impact, since they believe people will find other ways to spend their money. We rate the NFL Players Association's claim as False.

CQ Press City Crime Rankings, 2010-2011: The city of Atlanta ranks 25th among U.S. cities with the highest crime rates.

Atlanta may be the city too busy to hate. But for crime we make time.

The city ranks 25th of 400 cities in what's widely described as the annual "Most Dangerous Cities" list. St. Louis is No. 1.

Is this correct?

We found that although the FBI warns against ranking cities, CQ's analysis is neither invalid nor incorrect.

But as one of its authors acknowledges, the number does not mean Atlanta's residents are in more danger than those in other cities. Experts emphasize that a person's safety is more dependent on his lifestyle and what neighborhoods he frequents than what city he's in.

The list's "Most Dangerous Cities" name was axed. The book addresses this, but its news release did not. The message has not stuck with the public.

Because the news release does not tackle the list's misuse head on, we conclude the statement meets AJC PolitiFact Georgia's definition of Half True


Glenn Beck: "This town (Wilmington, Ohio) hasn't taken any money from the government. They don't want any money from the government."

Beck loves to tell a story with dramatic flair. Recently, his favorite is about Wilmington, Ohio.

The town of 13,000 has lost about 8,600 jobs since DHL Express, it largest employer, pulled out in 2008.

Beck calls Wilmington a real-life Bedford Falls, the fictitious town in the holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life." Residents are saving the town through self-reliance and prayer.

What makes Wilmington really special, he continued, is that it refuses government assistance, a key tenet of the political philosophy he espouses.

No government assistance?

The city of Wilmington has received federal assistance, and the mayor said he's chasing any aid he can get. Government and social service agencies that serve the area have received state and federal money. Development agencies and companies have received state aid or pledges of state aid.

Plus residents are receiving jobless benefits.

Beck's statement isn't just false. It's ridiculous. Pants on Fire.

Barack Obama: "There are polls showing right now that the American people for the most part think it's a bad idea to provide tax cuts to the wealthy."

During a Dec. 7 news conference, Obama pushed a deal he struck with Republicans to extend tax cuts passed under George W. Bush.

It extends the cuts for two years for all income brackets, rather than just for families below $250,000 and individuals below $200,000. In exchange, the GOP agreed to extend unemployment benefits and tax cuts passed under Obama.

Obama made the above claim, saying he backed down to avoid "collateral damage."

We looked at the polls, which show that a minority -- 23 percent to 40 percent -- favor extending the tax cuts to every income level. Between 39 percent and 53 percent want to see the tax cuts continue, but only for those below a certain income threshold.

They don't fully justify his claim that Americans "for the most part think it's a bad idea." In most, just a plurality agrees. But on balance, it's Mostly True.


"The Walking Dead:" In the case of a catastrophic event, the Atlanta-area offices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will self-destruct.

Now that state politicians are hibernating, PolitiFact Georgia can investigate what's really important. 

Is there a doomsday plan for Atlanta's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

"Huh?" you ask. And "Why?"

Because of AMC's hit series "The Walking Dead." Flesh-eating zombies take over Atlanta. In Dec. 5's season finale, survivors who take refuge at the CDC find that when its generators run out of fuel, a device more powerful than anything short of a nuclear bomb will blow it to kingdom come.

Really?

While the CDC does have safeguards in case generators fail, a subnuclear blast is not one of them, a spokeswoman said. Safeguards are in place for a variety of emergencies, but they don't specifically address the possibility of the end of humanity. 

Backup generators have failed at least twice in recent years, prompting outrage and scrutiny from the investigative arm of Congress. But none coincided with subnuclear explosions. 

Pants on Fire.