Thursday Reads: Corporate Media Enables Victim Blaming in Death of Freddie Gray

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy http://davetroy.com/posts/from-the-train-baltimore-looks-like-hell

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy http://davetroy.com/posts/from-the-train-baltimore-looks-like-hell)

Good Morning!!

The victim-blaming flew thick and fast last night after The Washington Post published a self-serving leak from an anonymous Baltimore murderer policeman. According to the Post report, Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord, crushed his own voice box and gave himself severe brain injuries in order to get back at the cops who beat him, dragged him to a police van as he screamed in agony and left him unbelted during a long “rough ride” to the police station.

From the WaPo story:

A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.

The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.

Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12. The 25-year-old had suffered a spinal injury and died a week later, touching off waves of protests across Baltimore, capped by a riot Monday in which hundreds of angry residents torched buildings, looted stores and pelted police officers with rocks.

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

That solves that mystery then, right?

Um . . . . no. That tall tale is just likely to inflame more anger and protests.

Watch this CNN video of the Freddie Gray arrest posted at Slate if you can handle it. It shows police lifting and pushing Gray into the van because he can’t move at least one of his legs. Several times Gray screams in agony as police lift him into the van and leave him unbelted despite his injuries.

A second bystander-filmed video of Freddie Gray’s April 12 arrest in Baltimore—after which he was hospitalized and died—appears to show Gray in substantial pain before being put into a police vehicle.

Initial video of Gray’s arrest also appeared to depict him in pain as an onlooker shouted that Gray’s leg was broken….both videos—and witness reports that Gray was struck and “bent up” by the officers who arrested him—seem to suggest the possibility that he was injured before being put into the van.

Have I told you lately how much I despise the Washington Post? At least they did publish this piece by Michael E. Miller this morning:

Those stories that Freddie Gray had a pre-existing spinal injury are totally bogus.

One thing is certain…Freddie Gray did not have a pre-existing spinal injury.

Yet, that was the story circulating on a handful of conservative Web sites Tuesday. In an “exclusive” quoting anonymous sources, the Web site The Fourth Estate reported that “Freddie Gray’s life-ending injuries to his spine may have possibly been the result of spinal and neck surgery that he allegedly received a week before he was arrested, not from rough [sic] excessively rough treatment or abuse from police.” The site claimed his injury was from a car accident. For more surgery procedures, check out nanoknife cancer surgery on atlasoncology.com for more information.

“If this is true, then it is possible that Gray’s spinal injury resulting from his encounter with the Baltimore Police was not the result of rough-handling or abuse, but rather a freak accident that occurred when Gray should have been at home resting, not selling drugs,” the site reported right above images of documents pertaining to a civil lawsuit involving Gray by his vehicle accident lawyer.

“The police didn’t mistreat him at all; he mistreated himself,” the report concluded.

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore

A$$holes.

But the images on the Fourth Estate actually relate to Gray’s lead paint lawsuit, the Baltimore Sun revealed. An attorney representing the Gray family confirmed that the case concerned lead paint, not a spinal cord injury a week before Freddie Gray’s arrest.

“We have no information or evidence at this point to indicate that there is a prior pre-existing spinal injury,” said Jason Downs, an attorney representing one of Gray’s relatives, told the Sun. “It’s a rumor.”

And yet that rumor might have caused real damage in a country already polarized on the subject of race and the police. The story quickly spread to several other Web sites, such as Free Republic and the Conservative Tree House, which called Gray’s supposedly pre-existing injury “a potential game changing discovery. A site called New York City Guns ran the headline “Dead Baltimore Drug Dealer Had Spinal Surgery DAYS Before He Collapsed in Police Van (Rioters Say ‘OOPS’).”

F**king a$$holes! I’m so sick of this garbage from so-called “conservatives.”

From this morning’s Baltimore Sun: The truth about Freddie Gray’s ‘pre-existing injury from car accident.’

Paperwork was filed in December allowing Gray and his sister, Fredericka to each collect an $18,000 payment from Peachtree Settlement Funding, records show. In exchange, Peachtree would have received a $108,439 annuity that was scheduled to be paid in $602 monthly installments between 2024 and 2039.

In her documents, Fredericka Gray checked “other” when asked to describe the type of accident. She also said that the date of the accident was “94/99” and that she was a minor when the case was settled.

In his documents, Freddie Gray checked “work injury, medical malpractice and auto accident” as the type of accident. When asked to explain, he also wrote something that is unreadable. He also wrote something unreadable when asked if he was a minor when the case was settled.

Baltimore, Md -- 12/2/11 -- The rear of a vacant house, marked with

Baltimore, Md — 12/2/11 — The rear of a vacant house, marked with “X” on the left, where a 13-year-old girl was raped in October. The house at 825 N. Caroline was owned by the city for years and last year the city transferred it through a swap with a developer. Kim Hairston [The Baltimore Sun ]

Experts such as Baizer Kolar P.C. as well as Gray’s attorney says there is no evidence he had any kind of preexisting injury and there was no car accident.

As children, Gray and his two sisters were found to have damaging lead levels in their blood, which led to educational, behavioral and medical problems, according to a lawsuit they filed in 2008 against the owner of a Sandtown-Winchester home the family rented for four years.

While the property owner countered in the suit that other factors could have contributed to the children’s deficits — including poverty and their mother’s drug use — the case was settled before going to trial in 2010. The terms of the settlement are not public.

Even the Free Republic has now withdrawn their story on the rumors, according to the Sun article. But that won’t stop Fox News and other right wing sources from spreading the lies.

Now two important articles about the real roots of the riots that broke out in Baltimore on Monday.

TPM Cafe:

The Role The Police Played In Sparking The Baltimore Violence, by Lawrence Brown.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Immigration Facts and Ferguson Fears

Vivien Leigh reads

Good Afternoon!!

 

President Obama’s executive action on immigration tops the news today. Ferguson is a close second. I’ll be focusing mostly on those two stories in this post.

Immigration

Before I get started, I want to point you to a new post by Darren Hutchinson of Dissenting Justice. It will give you some reality-based ammunition to deal with crazy wingnut friends, relatives, and Facebook and Twitter followers.

FACTS: President Obama’s Immigration Policies Are Absolutely LEGAL.

ATTENTION: Before you can argue that the government has violated a law, you must actually READ the law.

FACT: Congress has the exclusive power to pass laws regarding immigration (U.S. Const. Article I, Section 8, Cl. 4).FACT: Executive Power of the US is vested in the President, which means the President, not Congress, executes the immigration laws (U.S. Const. Article II, Sect. 1, Cl. 1)….

FACT: Consistent with the Constitution, the INA gives the Executive Branch (President, Homeland Security, Attorney General, and Secretary of State) the power to enforce immigration laws (8 U.S.C. Sect. 1103-1104)….

FACT: The Executive Can “Cancel” the Removal of Certain Deportable Individuals. 
The INA allows the Attorney General to cancel removal (deportation) or adjust the status of certain categories of undocumented individuals. The statute explicitly spells out the criteria for doing so. Thus, the statute provides an “intelligible criteria” for the Attorney General to follow. (8 U.S.C. Section 1229b(a)-(b))….

The Executive Can Give Temporary Protected Status to Certain Deportable Individuals. The INA also allows the Attorney General to grant “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS) to deportable individuals from certain countries that the Attorney General has placed on a TPS list. As required by Supreme Court doctrine, the INA gives SPECIFIC guidelines – or an intelligible principle – for the Attorney General to follow when determining whether to give TPS designation to a country. The statutory factors include serious conditions in the individual’s home country, like armed conflict; natural disasters; a request for temporary protected status by the country; or “extraordinary and temporary conditions” that preclude the safe return of the individual, so long as TPS does not conflict with the interests of the US.
(8 U.S.C. Sections 1254a-i)

Those are the highlights. There’s more at the link. I plan to save Hutchinson’s post for future reference. I’m thinking of printing it out in case I get in a political argument with my brother over Thanksgiving dinner.

jimmy stewart reads in bed

Obama has been vilified from day one by people who obviously have never read the Constitution or any U.S. laws dealing with their various political hobby horses, and I’m sick and tired of it.

You all know I not a fan of Obama when he ran for president in 2008, and I still think he’s a conservative technocrat who is far to willing to support privatization of public services. But he is the President of the United States now. I support his efforts to reform immigration laws. He’s only taking executive action because Congress is full of stupid and irrational people who are too lazy or stubborn to cooperate with him. Sadly, the DC media is largely made up of wealthy, privileged people who got their jobs because through nepotism and/or because they attended elite universities and are too lazy or stupid to provide accurate information to the public. Therefore, people who don’t focus on politics like we do get false information from TV news or “journalists” who do not understand what journalism is.

Rant over.

A few more links on the immigration story:

Washington Post Wonkblog, Flow chart: Who qualifies for Obama’s immigration offer?

The president’s executive action would delay deportation for the undocumented mother of a child born in the U.S. on Thursday — but not an undocumented mother who gave birth here one day later. Similarly, the president has offered deferrals to children brought to this country by their parents before their 16th birthday — but not a few weeks after.

Such deadlines serve a purpose: They’re meant to discourage new immigrants from coming in the future, or to dissuade women already here from giving birth with the goal of securing deferrals. But they also show that the president’s action falls far short of a comprehensive solution. It offers, instead, a fragmented answer that will leave many immigrants disappointed.

Check out the flow chart at the link for details.

liz-taylor_steve-mcqueen

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, Bringing perspective to Obama’s move on deportations.

Now that President Obama has announced his executive action to temporarily shield millions from deportation, confirming the administration’s view that this move is well within his authority, the battle now shifts to a political fight over the policy itself, and over whether it violates “political norms.” Is this action so provocative an affront to Congress that it sets a precedent for future GOP presidents to use discretion to selectively enforce laws liberals like?

Embedded in the legal opinion that the Office of Legal Counsel released to justify the move is an important nugget that should, in theory, help take the steam out of the idea that this move is a flagrant violation of political norms.

Obama’s action temporarily shields from deportation the parents of children who are U.S. citizens and legal residents, and also expands the program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to protect people brought here illegally as children. But it excludes parents of DACA recipients.

The reason for this offered by the OLC memo is that protecting parents of legal residents is in line with Congressional intent, as expressed in statute, while protecting DACA parents isn’t:

[T]he parents of DACA recipients are differently situated from the parents of U.S. citizens and LPRs [Legal Permanent Residents] under the family-related provisions of the immigration law. Many provisions of the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act] reflect Congress’ general concern about separating individuals who are legally entitled to live in the United States and their immediate family members….But the immigration laws do not express comparable concern for uniting persons who lack lawful status (or prospective lawful status in the United States with their families…Extending deferred action to the parents of DACA recipients would therefore expand family-based immigration relief in a manner that deviates in important respects from the immigration system Congress has enacted.

This legal opinion probably precludes any future expansion of this program to cover parents of DACA recipients. And it underscores two things: First, that the proposal is heavily focused on providing relief from humanitarian hardship endured by U.S. citizens and permanent residents, a longtime intention of Congress, as expressed in statute. Second, it shows that the proposal’s legal rationale is tightly circumscribed to reflect that Congressional intent.

Follow me below the fold for much more . . .
Read the rest of this entry »


Breaking . . . Mother of James Holmes Makes Clarifying Statement

For the past few days, the corporate media has been reporting on a phone call made to Arlene Holmes, the mother of alleged mass murderer James Holmes. ABC News’ placed a call to the Holmes family home in San Diego, CA in the early morning hours after the shootings in Aurora, CO. ABC reported that Mrs. Holmes immediately said, “You have the right person.” Since that time, multiple media sources have reported over and over again that Arlene Holmes was not surprised to learn that her son had gone on a murderous rampage.

Personally, I never interpreted Mrs. Holmes’ words in that way. I assumed that she was saying that, yes, she was the mother of a man named James Holmes who lived in Aurora, CO. It turns out that my interpretation was the correct one.

Today, Lisa Damiani, the Holmes family attorney, read a statement from Arlene Holmes in which she attempted to clarify the media narrative. She explained that the reporter asked her if she was Arlene Holmes and if she had a son, James Holmes, who lived in Aurora, CO. She then said “You have the right person,” indicating that she did have a son by that name. She then asked the reporter why he was calling and he told her about the shooting and asked for a comment. She told the reporter that she needed to find out of the person in custody was really her son. She the said that she would call the police or go to Colorado.

UPDATE: The full statement is reproduced at the end of this post.

I have to say that I am disgusted with the way the media covers horrible stories like this. Can any of us possibly imagine what it would be like to be awakened by a phone call from a national news organization announcing that your son has committed an unspeakable crime? The cold-blooded way that the media confronts families is sickening to me.

I am as fascinated by stories like this as anyone, but I try my best to be fair in evaluating what I read and hear. Unfortunately, the media narrative has probably been set in stone already and will continue to be reported again and again, as people judge this family and hold them responsible for their son’s actions.

I was also surprised to learn from the press conference that the family has not been contacted by Aurora police. It may be that James doesn’t want police to contact them. He’s an adult and legally can make his own decisions.

Another interesting thing the attorney said was that the family does not wish to discuss their relationship with James at this time. I don’t want to read anything into this, but the statement is suggestive that there may have been some kind of difficulty. I don’t want to be guilty of the same behavior that I’m criticizing, so I’m going to wait until there is more information.

TMZ has a breaking news story on this now. As soon as someone publishes the full statement, I’ll link to it here.


UPDATE:
Here is the full statement from Arlene Holmes from Politico:

Arlene Holmes, the mother of Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes, says that ABC News mischaracterized her when it reported that her initial statement to the reporter, “you have the right person,” was a reference to her son.

“This statement is to clarify a statement made by ABC media. I was awakened by a call from a reporter by ABC on July 20 about 5:45 in the morning. I did not know anything about a shooting in Aurora at that time,” Holmes said in a statement this afternoon, read to the national press by attorney Lisa Damiani. “He asked if I was Arlene Holmes and if my son was James Holmes who lives in Aurora, Colorado. I answered yes, you have the right person. I was referring to myself.”

“I asked him to tell me why he was calling and he told me about a shooting in Aurora,” she continues. “He asked for a comment. I told him I could not comment because I did not know if the person he was talking about was my son, and I would need to find out.”

In the first paragraph of its initial report on Friday, ABC News reported that it had identified the correct James Holmes because his mother “told ABC News her son was likely the alleged culprit, saying, ‘You have the right person.'”

I don’t know who the reporter was that made the phone call to Arlene Holmes and then twisted her meaning; but he or she should be fired. Brian Ross had previously reported that a Tea Party leader named Jim Holmes might have been the shooter. He should be fired too.


Leave Elizabeth Warren Alone!

Quixote wants the media to leave Ann Romney alone. In that spirit, I say it’s time for the media to get off Elizabeth Warren’s back about her Cherokee ancestry. Good Grief! This is the woman who stood up to Wall Street, Barack Obama, and Tim Geithner. Now she has to prove she’s 1/32 Cherokee?

Guess what? The Chief of Cherokee Nation is only 1/32 Cherokee. That ought to be good enough to satisfy the corporate media, although nothing will ever satisfy the right wing nuts, as we know from their continued demands to see a different birth certificate than Barack Obama has already provided.

Just plug in “Elizabeth Warren” on Google News, and all you’ll see are headlines about Warren’s Native American heritage, as if it mattered one bit as to her qualifications to serve in the Senate. Here are a few examples:

Elizabeth Warren’s Cheekbones

Elizabeth Warren shuts the door on Herald’s inquiry

Who’s an American Indian? Warren Case Stirs Query

And in the midst of the madness, it looks like Warren is going to have to deal with a primary challenger.

At the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky calls it a “witch hunt,” and I agree with him. He calls it “the biggest media-manufactured story since the Lewinsky scandal.”

So now Elizabeth Warren has to prove that she’s 1/32nd Cherokee? The temperature on the story is rising. There was a huge article in the Boston Globe on Friday written to raise a number of questions and suggest that Warren used the minority designation to get her job, or get ahead—exactly at the same time that a poll was released (PDF) showing that 69 percent of Bay State voters don’t consider her heritage to be a “significant” story. It reminds me of nothing so much as Monica Lewinsky, and of the media’s need sometimes to get a grip.

Why Lewinsky? The situations are in fact almost precisely the same. You had then a press pack that had decided that whether Bill Clinton was telling the truth about Monica was a question on which the fate of the republic hinged. The press became self-righteously consumed with its search for The Truth. Meanwhile, outside the Beltway, and outside of Wingnuttia (it existed then, just at about half of its current GDP), nobody cared what the truth was. The media kept producing revelations; surely, now, swore Maureen Dowd and Michael Kelly, America will see this man for the reprobate he is! America looked, yawned, told the press to start acting like grownups, and continued to approve of the job Clinton was doing as president at rates near 70 percent and to oppose impeachment at similar levels.

The appearance Thursday morning of this Suffolk University poll (linked to above) made me think: Well, this story line is about to wrap up. If more than two-thirds of voters don’t care, then that’s that. But no—still going strong! And now it’s not the loopy, right-wing, and pro-Brown Herald, which pushed the story first, but the Globe trying to play catch up. Yes, yes, it’s all in the public interest. What, you say, the public says it isn’t interested? Well, we’ll teach them what’s in their interest!

This is sheer insanity.


Monday Reads

Good Morning!! It’s the beginning of another week and, despite the impending holidays, there is quite a bit of news.

Six U.S. soldiers were killed by a bomb in Afghanistan yesterday.

Six U.S. soldiers were killed and more than a dozen U.S. and Afghan troops were wounded Sunday when a van packed with explosives was detonated at a new jointly operated outpost in southern Afghanistan.

The soldiers were inside a mud-walled building near the village of Sangsar, north of the Arghandab River, when the bomber drove up to one of the walls and exploded his charge.

The explosion blasted a hole in the thick wall, causing the roof to collapse on the soldiers inside. Others quickly arrived and clawed and pulled at the waist-deep rubble to free the buried troops.

[….]

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing. “We have killed numbers of Americans and Afghan soldiers and wrecked and ruined their security check post,” a Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said by phone. “We will carry out similar attacks in the future.”

USA Today: Taliban small arms attacks nearly double

U.S. forces have encountered more than 18,000 attacks this year from Taliban fighters armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and in some cases missiles, according to data from the Pentagon. That compares with about 10,600 such attacks in 2009.

But supposedly, that’s a good sign.

Army Capt. Ryan Donald, a military spokesman in Kabul, said the rise is a result of bringing “the fight to them.”

Donald said coalition troops have been on the offensive in an attempt to dislodge Taliban forces from their strongholds in southern Afghanistan and in the east along the mountainous border with Pakistan.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, this week to assess the situation.

More hard fighting remains, Gates said.

“This is tough terrain, and this is a tough fight,” Gates said. “But as Gen. Petraeus has said, we are breaking the momentum of the enemy, and we will reverse that momentum in partnering with the Afghans and will make this a better place for them, so they can take over, and we can all go home. It will be awhile, and we’ll suffer tougher losses as we go.”

More from the Globe and Mail:

Barack Obama’s high-risk war wager that sent tens of thousands of U.S. troops surging into Afghanistan is showing signs of success, U.S. officials say. The raging Taliban insurgency is being defeated, but foreign troops are still years away from heading for the exit.

“Our joint efforts are paying off,” said Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defence and the only cabinet secretary kept on by Mr. Obama from the former Bush administration. “[I’m] convinced that our strategy is working and that we will be able to achieve key goals set out by President Barack Obama last year.”

Hey, we’re years away from exiting this endless war, so how is that success? I just don’t get the point of all this violence and death.

In another of Obama’s battles–this one to give more money to the rich–David Axelrod claims the Democrats in Congress will go along with the con game.

White House adviser David Axelrod said the administration expects House Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to back the compromise tax package negotiated by President Barack Obama and the Republicans.

“At the end of the day no one wants to see taxes go up for 150 million Americans on January 1st,” Axelrod said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “This framework represents a compromise that both sides can accept and we can’t change it in major ways and expect that this thing is going to pass.”

So the rich will get richer and the old and the disabled with pay the price.

At Huffpo, former Obama believer Robert Kuttner writes about the “coming cave-in” of Social Security.

If you think the Democratic base is mad at Obama now for making a craven deal with Republicans that continues tax breaks for the richest Americans and adds new ones for their heirs through a big cut in the estate tax, just wait a few weeks until Obama caves on Social Security.

A few weeks?!

…Obama has created a kind of pincer attack on Social Security. One arm is the deficit commission, which has created the blueprint. The other is the tax-cut deal, which increases the deficit, adding to the artificial hysteria that Social Security is going broke. Meanwhile, the right is playing a very cute game, congratulating Obama for the deal….

When the right congratulates Obama for winning, you know he is losing. For starters, the proposed compromise isn’t much of an economic stimulus. If the deal passes Congress, taxpayers will be paying the same income tax rates in 2011 and 2012 as in 2010. No stimulus there.

The only real stimulus is the temporary cut in Social Security taxes, the extension of unemployment insurance plus a few minor tax breaks for regular people, totaling about $200 billion. That’s a little more than one percent of a $15 trillion economy. Pretty puny, certainly a lot smaller than the inadequate stimulus of February 2009 when the recession was only beginning to deepen.

Except for the extension of unemployment insurance, which should be done out of common decency, most of the “stimulus” is pure Republican ideology — stimulate the economy by cutting taxes.

Folks, the only thing standing between us and economic disaster for the majority of Americans is the weak-kneed Democrats in Congress. Nancy Pelosi needs to come through this time.

Robert Reich thinks lots of people are going to be to beat down and discouraged to drag themselves to the polls and vote in 2012.

In the 2010 midterm elections Democrats suffered from a so-called “enthusiasm gap.”

If Dems agree to the tax plan just negotiated by the White House with Republican leaders, they’ll face a “why-should-I-get-up-out-of-my-chair” gap that will make 2010’s Dem enthusiasm seem like a pep rally by comparison.

It’s a $70,000 gift for every millionaire, financed by a gigantic hole in the federal budget that will put on the cutting board education, infrastructure, and everything else most other Americans need and want.

“Why should I get out of my chair” in 2012, he asks.

Here are a couple of interesting stories about the potential effects of Wikileaks on the corporate media.

Dakinikat sent me this link: ‘The Fourth Estate is dead,’ former CIA analyst declares

Ray McGovern, of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, told Raw Story in an exclusive interview. “The Fourth Estate in his country has been captured by government and corporations, the military-industrial complex, the intelligence apparatus. Captive! So, there is no Fourth Estate.”

[….]

McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years, whose duties included preparing and briefing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates, said that he preferred to focus on the First Amendment battle of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange than on the current “cyber war” in which WikiLeaks is embroiled.

McGovern said that modern people can now become informed through what he termed “The Fifth Estate.”

“Luckily, there is a Fifth Estate,” he said. “The Fifth Estate exists in the ether. It’s not susceptible of government, of corporations, or advertisers or military control. It’s free. That is very dangerous to people who like to make secrets and to make secret operational things. It’s a huge threat. And the Empire – the Goliath here – is being threatened by a slingshot in the form of a computer and a stone through these emissions thrown into the ether to our own computers.”

And there’s this story at The New York Times: WikiLeaks Taps Power of the Press

In July, WikiLeaks began what amounted to a partnership with mainstream media organizations, including The New York Times, by giving them an early look at the so-called Afghan War Diary, a strategy that resulted in extensive reporting on the implications of the secret documents.

Then in October, the heretofore classified mother lode of 250,000 United States diplomatic cables that describe tensions across the globe was shared by WikiLeaks with Le Monde, El Pais, The Guardian and Der Spiegel. (The Guardian shared documents with The New York Times.) The result was huge: many articles have come out since, many of them deep dives into the implications of the trove of documents.

Notice that with each successive release, WikiLeaks has become more strategic and has been rewarded with deeper, more extensive coverage of its revelations. It’s a long walk from WikiLeaks’s origins as a user-edited site held in common to something more akin to a traditional model of publishing, but seems to be in keeping with its manifesto to deliver documents with “maximum possible impact.”

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’s founder and guiding spirit, apparently began to understand that scarcity, not ubiquity, drives coverage of events. Instead of just pulling back the blankets for all to see, he began to limit the disclosures to those who would add value through presentation, editing and additional reporting. In a sense, Mr. Assange, a former programmer, leveraged the processing power of the news media to build a story and present it in comprehensible ways. (Of course, as someone who draws a paycheck from a mainstream journalism outfit, it may be no surprise that I continue to see durable value in what we do even amid the journalistic jujitsu WikiLeaks introduces.)

A new site for leaks, “Open Leaks” is supposed to debut today. It was formed by some disgruntled Wickileaks employees. Is it possible that we are really seeing a way to combat the power of the corporate media and force them to respond to the needs of ordinary Americans or become obsolete?

Media professor Douglas Rushkoff says the Internet “was never free or open and never will be.”

Secrets outlet WikiLeaks’ continuing struggle to remain online in the face of corporate and government censorship is a striking example of something few truly realize: that the Internet is not and never has been democratically controlled, a media studies professor commented to Raw Story.

“[T]he stuff that goes on on the Internet does not go on because the authorties can’t stop it,” Douglas Rushkoff, author of Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age and Life, Inc.: How Corporatism Conquered the World and How to Take it Back”, said. “It goes on because the authorities are choosing what to stop and what not to stop.”

Rushkoff told Raw Story that the authorities have the ability to quash cyber dissent due to the Internet’s original design, as a top-down, authoritarian device with a centralized indexing system.

Essentially, all one needs to halt a rogue site is to delete its address from the domain name system registry.

Rushkoff says if we really want a free internet we’ll have to build it ourselves.

Here’s a great story: a blogger at NPR asked a question about the 1969 moon landing, and Neil Armstrong himself responded with a lengthy e-mail.

In yesterday’s post, I talked about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s walk across the lunar surface back in 1969 and wondered, how come they walked such a modest distance? Less than a hundred yards from their lander?

Today Neil Armstrong wrote in to say, here are the reasons:

It was really, really hot on the moon, 200 degrees Fahrenheit. We needed protection.

We were wearing new-fangled, water-cooled uniforms and didn’t know how long the coolant would last.

We didn’t know how far we could go in our space suits.

NASA wanted us to conduct our experiments in front of a fixed camera.

We [meaning Neil] cheated just a little, and very briefly bounded off to take pictures of some interesting bedrock.

But basically, he says, we were part of a team and we were team players on a perilous, one-of-a-kind journey. Improvisation was not really an option.

You can read the entire e-mail at the link.

I know everyone has already seen this nutty op-ed by Ishmael Reed: What Progressives Don’t Understand About Obama. I just want to call attention to one strange comment that Reed made in the piece:

…I read a response to an essay I had written about Mark Twain that appeared in “A New Literary History of America.” One of the country’s leading critics, who writes for a prominent progressive blog, called the essay “rowdy,” which I interpreted to mean “lack of deportment.” Perhaps this was because I cited “Huckleberry Finn” to show that some white women managed household slaves, a departure from the revisionist theory that sees Scarlett O’Hara as some kind of feminist martyr.

WTF?! Scarlett O’Hara, a feminist? Let’s see, she wore corsets and spent most of her time flirting with boys. She disliked other women and used men to get what she wanted. What could possibly make her a feminist? Believe it or not, I found a journal article on the subject. You can download the entire article in PDF form if you’re interested. The author, J. M. Spanbauer, describes Scarlett as:

…at best irritating, and at worst, despicable: a character who embodies all of the negative stereotypes attributed to women throughout history. She is narcissistic, shallow, dishonest, manipulative, amoral, and completely lacking in any capacity for self-reflection and for analysis of the emotional and psychological responses of others.

That’s a feminist? The article is an interesting analysis of the roles of women in Scarlett’s time and ours, and why many women still find Scarlet’s fascinating. Read it if you want to know more. I still don’t see how anyone could make a case for Scarlett as a feminist though, any more than I can agree with Ishmael Reed that the reason Obama can’t fight for any principle is that he’s black and black men can’t get angry without threatening white people. Reed should stick to poetry, because he doesn’t understand politics. Obama wouldn’t need to get angry to stand for something. He could be cool as a cucumber and still veto the tax cut extension for the super-rich.

Sooooo… what are you reading this morning?