Friday Reads: The Medium isn’t the Message

martha-gellhornGood Morning!

I’ve been looking at media stories this week.  That includes both traditional and nontraditional forms.  The internet continues to influence the release of news and how news is made and reported. Several topics really caught my eye.  The first is the ease with which we’re seeing documentation of Bill O’Reilly’s exaggerations on places he’s been and news stories he covered.  It seems like one exaggeration/lie after another is popping up from all kinds of places since David Corn of Mother Jones found out that O’Reilly was never near a battlefield during the Falklands War despite the stories O’Reilly tells.  Here’s some of the latest on the life and times of the blustery, on line person who really is a serial liar.

Former colleagues of Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News host whose tales of past reporting exploits are facing renewed scrutiny, have disputed his account of surviving a bombardment of bricks and rocks while covering the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.

Six people who covered the riots with O’Reilly in California for Inside Edition told the Guardian they did not recall an incident in which, as O’Reilly has claimed, “concrete was raining down on us” and “we were attacked by protesters”.

Several members of the team suggested that O’Reilly may instead be overstating a fracas involving one disgruntled Los Angeles resident, who smashed one of their cameras with a piece of rubble.

Two of the team said the man was angered specifically by O’Reilly behaving disrespectfully after arriving at the smoking remains of his neighbourhood in a limousine, whose driver at one point began polishing the vehicle. O’Reilly is said to have shouted at the man and asked him: “Don’t you know who I am?”

O’Reilly, 65, is one of the most influential figures in American broadcasting and publishing. He is paid a reported $20m a year to host his show, the O’Reilly Factor, which consistently ranks among the most-watched current affairs programs in US cable TV. He has also authored several bestselling books and memoirs.

He has for several days been defending himself against accusations that he inflated his recollections of reporting from Argentina at the end of the Falklands war as a young correspondent for CBS News. The Guardian found he had told differing versions of an apparent encounter at gunpoint with Argentinian forces.

He has also been accused of lying in one of his books about being present at the scene when a CIA source, who had allegedly been linked to the assassination of President John F Kennedy, killed himself in 1977.

imagesXS1GNOQHFox News and Holt–publisher of O’Reilly’s book on Kennedy–have stood firmly by their man. O’Reilly’s show has never much been about facts any way as delivering anger to a key republican base.  This would seem hard to ignore.  Additionally, O’Reilly has actually threatened reporters.  Every one expected the name calling but it’s gone way beyond that now. How can Fox stand behind an on air personality that lies and threatens journalists?

As the controversy surrounding Bill O’Reilly and his war reporting experiences continues to heat up, with more allegations coming out each day, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow wonders how much longer Fox News can stand by the host.

On Wednesday evening, Maddow spoke with Mother Jones author David Corn, one of the journalists who wrote the original report revealing the inaccuracies in O’Reilly’s story. O’Reilly subsequently called Corn “a liar” and said that he deserves to be put in “the kill zone.” On Tuesday, the Fox News host threatened a New York Times reporter covering the scandal: “I am coming after you with everything I have,” O’Reilly said.

“Apparently, they [Fox News] think it’s proper for one journalist to call another one names,” Corn told Maddow. “Not that it scares me off the story, but I have family and I have friends who are concerned about me now.”

Corn called the threats “highly inappropriate” and noted that O’Reilly still has not disproven “a single fact” from his piece.

Maddow said that after his threats to Corn and the Times’ reporter, it is “untenable” for Fox News to stand by him.

“They employ a lot of journalists, including those who work in risky situations,” she said. “Fox is a good place to work for journalists.”

Maddow made a similar point on her show one night earlier, questioning what O’Reilly’s behavior will do to Fox News’ “work environment” and to the “real reporters” that work there

Why on earth do news personalities like O’Reilly and Brian Williams lie when their jobs should be all about integrity? photogsDo they all yearn to be seen as Walter Cronkite?  Do their memories and egos just run amok?

News in America has increasingly become infotainmenthalf factual information about the world’s events, half dazzling production and splashy narratives. Simultaneously, fewer and fewer Americans have ever seen battle; most of us only know war from what we see in film and television. So war itself becomes difficult to distinguish from entertainment. American Sniper, with its ambiguous moral commitments, is now the highest grossing American war film of all time, adjusted for inflation. Unlike popular war films about battles long past, American Sniper is set during the Iraq war, the effects of which are only beginning to ripple across our culture. Moreover, its story allegedly reflects the true-life story of its central character, sniper Chris Kyle. It’s somewhat true, like the news, but with a better script and pretty actors.

Which makes it hard for the news to keep up, even when you’re as handsome as Brian Williams. Unlike most cinematic retellings of wars, actual wars are multifaceted, complicated, anti-climactic, and grim. When war is already a successful subject in mainstream cinema, news purveyors whose professions have become increasingly akin to entertainment are shrewd to play up war stories in relaying the narrative of the day. The trouble is that shrewdness, for some news professionals, has morphed into a calculated consideration of the entertainment value of war stories, regardless of their factuality.

Maybe Williams and O’Reilly are merely victims of the fallible human brain. Or maybe that hunger to entertainand, perhaps, for a touch of gloryoverwhelmed their professional duty to the facts. What, after all, is more exciting than a war story in which you’re the star.

imagesH6SL6G62The other story I’ve followed has been yet another installment of “Is blogging dead?”  These are articles that I’ve seen a lot of since around three years ago. I guess the collapse of the Andrew Sullivan experiment has brought on another deluge.  The link explores the musings of bloggers from “The Golden Age” which seems an odd way to describe a period of maybe 5 years.  Any way, there are a few bloggers with opinions both ways.  I’ve followed a few of the links including this one from fellow economist/blogger Noah Smith.

In a nutshell, what is dying is the idea of the blog as a news source. In the old days, as a reader, you would have a favorite blogger, who would write many frequent posts throughout the day. That would be your main news source, your portal to current events. Often the post would have a slight bit of commentary or reaction. Basically, you got to hear the world narrated through the voice of someone you liked. For me, those narrators were University of California, Berkeley, economist Brad DeLong and Matt Yglesias, now at Vox. For many, it was Sullivan.

Twitter has basically killed that. With a Twitter feed you can integrate a bunch of different narrators into a single, flowing newsreel. It turns out that most of the micro-commentary that used to accompany a blog post can be squeezed into one or two tweets.

But the thing about micro-blogging is that, well, it’s micro. If you look at the blogs that Klein lists as the future (and there are many, many more), you will see that they all do posts that are about the length of a news article. That’s something Twitter complements, but can’t replicate.

However, that doesn’t mean that blog posts are now just news articles freed from the tyranny of professional editors. With blogs, you can do something that news can’t easily do — you can carry on a conversation.

imagesN5QQ6TZYI have to admit that I have mixed feelings about those declaring blogging to be the refuge of 40 year olds with kids or that nothing relevant happens on blogs these days. Maybe it’s because many of my friends are bloggers. But, I would like to point out that Lamar White–a blogging law student–broke two huge stories in the last year. The first was the shoddy situation with moonlight Congressman–now Senator–Double Bill Cassiday. The LSU med center just audited  whitewashed its findings and Lamar is still on top of it.  His second piece connecting Congressman Steve Scalise to the local white supremacists and David Duke nearly cost Scalise a leadership position.  Indeed, bloggers can frequently do good local investigations which is something local and national media rarely fund any more.

I would agree that blogging is changing but then so are all forms of written communication as well as broadcast media. Chris Cilliza has another notion.

The idea inherent in all of the death knells for blogging is that blogging is any one thing. It’s not. As I explain to anyone who will listen to me  an ever-shrinking populace  a “blog” is simply a publishing medium. It’s a way to put content on the Internet  usually a fast and, relatively, user-friendly way. But, the conflating a publishing medium with a sort of online writing  opinionated, snarky  that tends to be the preferred approach of many of its users is a mistake.

Well, we’re still standing–or sitting as the case may be–while sharing information with each other. We’ve all come a long way since we were booted from various communities for being loyal to Hillary back in 2008. I think there will always be a place for alternative voices. I say this as a former writer of an underground “newspaper”–The Aardvark–from way back in the day.  The medium evolves. The writer’s voice and need to write carries on.

So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Tuesday Reads

Couch on the Porch at Cos Cob by Childe Hassam, 1914

Couch on the Porch at Cos Cob by Childe Hassam, 1914

Good Morning!!


Secretary of State John Kerry is under fire for making a frank statement in a closed-door meeting that he believed to be private. Politico’s Dylan Byers reports: John Kerry’s private remarks allegedly taped by Daily Beast reporter.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s private remarks to a meeting of influential world leaders last week were allegedly taped by a reporter from The Daily Beast, a fact that led to a personal apology from Trilateral Commission chairman Joseph S. Nye on Monday.

In a letter to Sec. Kerry, obtained by POLITICO, Nye expressed “my deep apology and dismay that a reporter form The Daily Beast, Josh Rogin, somehow sneaked into the meeting room in which you were speaking to the Commission this past Friday.”

“He was not invited,” Nye wrote. “Althought how Mr. Rogin slipped past both Commission staff and Diplomatic Security is unclear to me, we have confirmed that he indeed was present and apparently recorded the session.”

Josh Rogin

Josh Rogin

Rogin, who somehow sneaked into the meeting and taped Kerry’s remarks, soon began posting “exclusives” at The Daily Beast.

Within minutes of Kerry’s remarks on Friday, Rogin posted an exclusive to The Daily Beast in which he reported that Kerry had “warned that [a] new round of American financial assaults on Russia were on the way.”

On Sunday, Rogin posted another exclusive headlined, “Kerry Warns Israel Could Become ‘An Apartheid State’.” The report earned Sec. Kerry fierce criticism from Jewish organizations such as AIPAC, which called the remarks “offensive and inapropriate,” and the Anti-Defamation League, which called them “incendiary.”

In the first article, Rogin attributed his knowledge of Sec. Kerry’s remarks to “an attendee.” In the second article, he attributed them to “a recording… obtained by The Daily Beast.” Rogin did not mention his presence at the event in either article.

Is that okay according to journalistic ethics? I don’t know, but this definitely demonstrates to me the need for some secrecy in government diplomacy. I think the Greenwaldian notion of government as absolute enemy has rubbed off on reporters like Rogin. His first “exclusive” was on a breakdown of communications between the White House and the Kremlin and the second was about Kerry’s comments on Israel. Rogin writes:

If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming “an apartheid state,” Secretary of State John Kerry told a room of influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting Friday.

It wasn’t the only controversial comment on the Middle East that Kerry made during his remarks to the Trilateral Commission, a recording of which was obtained by The Daily Beast. Kerry also repeated his warning that a failure of Middle East peace talks could lead to a resumption of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens. He suggested that a change in either the Israeli or Palestinian leadership could make achieving a peace deal more feasible. He lashed out against Israeli settlement-building. And Kerry said that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders share the blame for the current impasse in the talks. 

Kerry also said that at some point, he might unveil his own peace deal and tell both sides to “take it or leave it.”

“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state,” Kerry told the group of senior officials and experts from the U.S., Western Europe, Russia, and Japan. “Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution, which both leaders, even yesterday, said they remain deeply committed to.”

It’s hard for me to find much fault with that. I guess the use of the term “apartheid” is a no-no, Kerry is not the first to use it. As Rogin notes, former President Jimmy Carter wrote a book in 2007 with the title Palestine: Peace or Apartheid. Carter was forced to backtrack somewhat, and Kerry has had do it also. Michael Gordon at The New York Times: Kerry Apologizes for Remark That Israel Risks Apartheid


In the statement that Mr. Kerry issued Monday, which bore the title “On Support for Israel,” he said that he had been a staunch supporter of Israel during his years as a senator and had spent many hours since working with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials.

“For more than 30 years in the United States Senate, I didn’t just speak words in support of Israel,” Mr. Kerry said in his statement. “I walked the walk when it came time to vote and when it came time to fight.”

Mr. Kerry added that he did not believe that Israel was an “apartheid state” or intended to become one. Mr. Kerry did not dispute he had used the phrase but said it had led to a “misimpression” about his views.

“If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution,” he said.

“In the long term, a unitary, binational state cannot be the democratic Jewish state that Israel deserves or the prosperous state with full rights that the Palestinian people deserve,” he added.

Kerry has now been attacked for his remarks by Senators Ted Cruz and Barabara Boxer. Quite an achievement!

Rogin’s latest “exclusive,” published this morning, reveals (surprise, surprise!) that the U.S. is spying on calls between Russia and it’s spies on the ground in Eastern Ukraine. You’d think that would be a good thing, but in the age of Greenwaldian “advocacy journalism,” maybe not. Rogin:

“Intel is producing taped conversations of intelligence operatives taking their orders from Moscow and everybody can tell the difference in the accents, in the idioms, in the language. We know exactly who’s giving those orders, we know where they are coming from,” Kerry said at a private meeting of the Trilateral Commission in Washington. A recording of Kerry’s remarks was obtained by The Daily Beast.

Kerry didn’t name specific Russian officials implicated in the recordings. But he claimed that the intercepts provided proof of the Russians deliberately fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine—and lying about it to U.S. officials and the public.

“It’s not an accident that you have some of the same people identified who were in Crimea and in Georgia and who are now in east Ukraine,” said Kerry. “This is insulting to everybody’s intelligence, let alone to our notions about how we ought to be behaving in the 21st century. It’s thuggism, it’s rogue state-ism. It’s the worst order of behavior.”

Rogin goes on to speculate on whether the NSA has now corrected issues that prevented them from receiving accurate intelligence on Russia’s plans to invade Ukraine and annex Crimea and explains the methods NSA uses to collected such information. I guess they will have to go back to the drawing board again now? In the latest piece, Rogin still does not state that he is the source of the tapes of Kerry’s remarks.

Reuters has an article this morning on Israel’s latest plans: Israeli politicians seek to bypass talks, set own boundaries.

With Middle East peace talks frozen and expectations of a negotiated deal at an all-time low, a growing number of Israeli politicians believe it is time for the government to set the nation’s own borders unilaterally.

Some seek the annexation of most of the occupied West Bank, others say only the big Jewish settlement blocs should be brought under Israeli sovereignty, while a third group calls for a partial pullout to create a de facto Palestinian state.

Such actions would break the dynamics of the U.S.-driven peace process, which has been bogged down by years of failure and recrimination. By the same token, it would likely unleash a firestorm of protest at home and abroad.

Isn’t that just ducky? Read lots of details at the link.

This is just breaking (9AM EST) . . . there has been a mass shooting at a FedEx location in Georgia.

FedEx shooting

From NBC News: FedEx Facility Shooting Prompts Massive Police Response

At least six people were injured in a shooting early Tuesday at a FedEx facility in Kennesaw, Ga., officials said.

The male gunman remained at large, and police said they are sweeping the surrounding area, reported NBC affiliate WXIA-TV.

Cobb County police said the call came in at 5:44 a.m., prompting a lockdown of the facility on Airport Road and more than 50 emergency vehicles to arrive at the scene. The injured were taken to the hospital, and at least one person was taken immediately to the operating room, WXIA reported.

That’s all I have for you today–I hope you’ll also post your links in the comment thread.

SDB Evening News Reads for 091311: It’s too hot to fish…but it ain’t too hot to fry!

Good evening…

I’m writing this post a bit early today, my son was in the ER this morning…with a concussion. (Yes…he got it at football practice…yes Dak, you can say “I told you so!”) He was acting strange last night, but he did not give us the full story until this morning.  I thought it was just dehydration…nope…and why does the extra point and field goal kicker have to be doing Oklahoma tackle practice. Ugh…

Here are a few links for you this evening. I will be AWOL, taking care of the Boy,  so please be sure to post links that update any stories you see on the news.

Militants Attack U.S. Embassy in Kabul –

Insurgents launched a complex assault against the American Embassy and the nearby NATO headquarters on Tuesday, pelting the heavily guarded compounds with rockets in an attack that raised new questions about the security of Afghanistan’s capital and the Westerners working there.

At least 10 explosions — apparently from rockets launched by militants — and waves of automatic weapons fire were reported amid the drone of sirens and English-language warnings telling Americans inside the embassy to take cover.

Sediq Sediqi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said that two attackers had been killed, as had one policeman. At about 4 p.m. local time, three attackers were believed to be still fighting. Kerri Hannan, a spokeswoman for the American Embassy, said that no embassy personnel had been hurt.

Well the gyro is hitting the fan: Greece Has 98% Chance of Default on Euro-Region Sovereign Woes – Bloomberg

Greece has a 98 percent chance of defaulting on its debt in the next five years as Prime Minister George Papandreou fails to reassure investors his country can survive the euro-region crisis.

“Everyone’s pricing in a pretty near-term default and I think it’ll be a hard event,” said Peter Tchir, founder of hedge fund TF Market Advisors in New York. “Clearly this austerity plan is not working.

No shit!

Obama Team Backed $535 Million Solyndra Aid as Auditor Warned on Finances – Bloomberg

Two months before Obama’s visit, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP warned that Solyndra, the recipient of $535 million in federal loan guarantees, had financial troubles deep enough to “raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.”

The Obama administration stood by Solyndra through the auditor’s warning, the abandonment of a planned initial public offering and a last-ditch refinancing where taxpayers took a back seat to new investors. That unwavering commitment has come under increasing scrutiny since the company’s travails culminated in its filing for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6 and a raid on its headquarters by the Federal Bureau of Investigation two days later.

“People including our government put blinders on and did not want to believe in the obvious,” Jonathan Dorsheimer, an analyst in Boston for Canaccord Genuity Inc. of Vancouver, said in an interview with Bloomberg Government. “The fact that the government chose Solyndra as their white horse is mind- boggling.”

Today marks a special day, the Anniversary of the day we forgot about the day we said we would never forget…Jon Stewart 9/13 Special | The Daily Show on 9/11 Coverage | Video | Mediaite

Last night Jon Stewart took aim at both the cynical and maudlin remembrances via a new Daily Show special focused on 9/13, or the day we forgot lessons we’d sworn never to forget.

In the week’s leading up to this memorial, nearly every single media outlet unleashed its very own advertiser-friendly tribute filled with haunting images and maudlin music. Some brave commentators pointed out how the cottage industry of 9/11 nostalgia seemed creepy, while others drew fire for calling it an “Occasion of Shame.”

Stewart’s deftly criticized the coverage of the emotional chapter in American history by editing together a series of the most absurd examples of both vitriolic rhetoric and inappropriate commercialization of 9/11, intercut with Daily Show contributors offering their own personal insights/jokes. Its hard not to watch the video and not think that the recent dust-up over Paul Krugman‘s blog post pales in comparison to the 9/11 branded Chardonnay and Merlot, that once earned promotion on Fox and Friends .

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Here is the transcript for you from the “700 Club” via the Right Wing Watch:

JERRY FALWELL: This is the first time that we’ve been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters – the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats–what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be minuscule if, in fact–if, in fact–God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that’s my feeling. I think we’ve just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven’t even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this.


JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way–all of them who have tried to secularize America–I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur.

When Jerry Falwell died, in my Hometown of Banjoville, the Post Office and County Courthouse (and of course all the churches) flew the flag at half-staff.

Nice innit?

But then Georgia is such a caring and considerate state…Georgia Set to Execute Troy Davis Sept. 21 | News | BET

John Lewis, Hank Johnson and Sanford Bishop seek clemency for Troy Davis | Political Insider

The Georgia members of Congress have asked the state Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency for Troy Davis, who is scheduled to face execution next week the 1989 killing of off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

Hank Johnson of Decatur, John Lewis and David Scott of Atlanta, and Sanford Bishop of Albany, all Democrats, put their signatures to the letter that can be read here. A total of four dozen members of Congress signed.

Among the letter’s points:

“It is clear now that the doubts plaguing Davis’s case can never be adequately addressed; the lack of hard scientific or relevant physical evidence has made it impossible to resolve with any degree of certainty.

“Over the last four years, the inability of our courts to resolve these uncertainties has shaken public confidence in our judicial system, and an execution under such a cloud of doubt would do nothing but further undermine that confidence. Public faith in the integrity of justice in Georgia is at stake and it is for this reason that we urge you to grant clemency for Troy Davis.”

Many others have argued for a commutation of Davis’s death sentence, including former President Jimmy Carter.

Worth noting is the absence of a signature from one Georgia Democrat — John Barrow — on the letter mentioned above.

So to give you a sample of some of that small town Georgia flavor, I want to share this from Colbert.

As this story on old fashioned reporting shows…some newspapers, like the Athens Banner-Herald in Oconee County Georgia, still pound the street in search of that next big scoop.  And boy, do they got themselves a doosey here… enjoy!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It’s too hot to fish…

If you get a chance check out this other bit from last nights Colbert, it’s a hoot. I gotta get me some of that 9/11 Remembrance Sushi Roll…mmm…

I also want to color that page in the 9/11 kids coloring book, that proudly displays the bullet that killed Bin Laden as he cowers behind one of his wives.

Coloring Book

A page from the controversial coloring book graphic novel “We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom,” published by Wayne Bell of St. Louis, Mo.-based Really Big Coloring Books.

Do you all see the bullet? Geez!

I will try to check in later today, see ya!

SDB Evening News Reads for 061311: A Gay Hoax in Damascus

Bulldogs or Bullshit?

This weekend was a busy one! After making over 110 little pizzas  for my family visiting from Tampa, I am beat.

Today’s post is going to focus on the recent “Gay Girl in Damascus” that really wasn’t “Gay” and wasn’t even a “Girl.” (btw that link goes to the actual blog…)

Remember the lesbian woman in Syria that was abducted and reported to be yet another journalist kidnapped while covering the hostilities?  Many of our readers were following this story.

Well, it was all lies! The “Gay Girl in Damascus” was Tom MacMasters, a “Bearded American Man” going to grad school in Scotland.

Needless to say, I had posted her “disappearance” in one of my Evening Reads post last week. The US State Department even got involved, as the “Gay Girl” or “Amina” or MacMaster was supposed to be a woman with dual US/Syrian Citizenship, many people risked themselves to help the “kidnapped” journalist.  And what does MacMaster say about that:

Gay Girl in Damascus hoaxer acted out of ‘vanity’ | World news | The Guardian

“I regret that a lot of people feel that I led them on. I regret that … a number of people are seeing my hoax as distracting from real news, real stories about Syria and real concerns of real, actual, on-the-ground bloggers, where people will doubt their veracity.”

Informed that Syria’s official news agency, Sana, has leapt on the controversy, claiming the fictional blog had perpetuated “continuous fabrications and lies against Syria in term of kidnapping bloggers and activists”, MacMaster said: “Yep. I regret that.”

He regrets it…what a jackass.

He had made her a lesbian, he said, in an attempt “to develop my writing conversation skills … It’s a challenge. I liked the challenge.
“I also had the thing that I like to write, and my own vanity is … if you want to compliment me, tell you like my writing … That’s how to make me happy.”

Typical, all this was done for fame…celebrity…vanity. And why did he make up an elaborate tale of kidnapping? According to him, it…

“was, stupidly, my sort of ‘away message'”, written as he and his wife left for a holiday in Istanbul, he said.

He was planning on writing a post that she was released and decided not to write her blog anymore…Pathetic.

Well, the Guardian has an apology here: Open door: The authentication of anonymous bloggers | Comment is free | The Guardian

Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday Reads

Its Wednesday Morning, the last Wednesday in February, can you believe it? The news in Libya is changing fast.  So I will link to a few things below. Look for Live Blog Post to find any updates as events warrant.

The Associated Press: US to evacuate Americans from Libya by ferry

Live Blog – Libya Feb 23 | Al Jazeera Blogs

Libya – Al Jazeera English

The project for a new Arab century – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

In Chicago, they have a new mayor: Emanuel Wins in Chicago, A.P. Projects –

Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman who worked for two presidents, was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, a victory that would mark a new path for a city that has, for 22 years, been led by a singular, powerful force, Richard M. Daley.

Mr. Emanuel, who will take office in May, had 55 percent of the vote against five other candidates with 86 percent of the precincts reporting.

Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio…who is next?

Workers’ protests swell in Midwest as budget battles continue –

Republican lawmakers in the nation’s heartland might be feeling a case of heartburn after their budget bills spawned demonstrations in at least three states over what protesters view as an attack on workers’ rights.

Crowds in Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana gathered Tuesday in a series of budgetary showdowns that challenge long-standing rights and benefits afforded to unionized labor while raising questions about the fiscal health of state and local governments.

Indiana Democrats Stage Boycott –

Indiana Democratic lawmakers Tuesday boycotted legislative sessions to deny Republicans a quorum needed to pass a bill that would restrict union rights in the state, following the lead of Democrats from Wisconsin who used a similar strategy.


Protests also grew Tuesday in Ohio, where more than 10,000 union supporters flooded the capitol in Columbus to demonstrate outside a hearing on a state Senate bill that would strip most collective-bargaining rights from the state’s 400,000 public employees. Republican Gov. John Kasich supports the bill.

Look for more updates on the US Labor Union protest in the comments below.  For recent Sky Dancing post about the Union protest, click here.

Recently Sima wrote a blog post about the effect of GM crops on bee colonies. Aside from Genetically Modified crops, which can negatively affect other strains of seed they come in contact with, and can also affect the behavior of bees that harvest the pollen from GM crops; there are many environmental hazards in pesticides which are used on crops that also negatively impact the environment and animals that come in contact with them. Frogs are some of the best indicators of these poisonous chemical treatments. Yesterday this article was published in the Guardian. Solving the mystery of the bizarre deformed frogs | Environment |

A frog floats with cranberries awaiting harvest on a cranberry bog in Wareham, Massachusetts Photograph: Charles Krupa

For the last two decades, strange things have been happening to frogs. Some frog populations have high rates of limb deformities, while others have high incidences of what is known as “intersex” — traits associated with both males and females, such as male frogs whose testes contain eggs.

David K. Skelly, professor of ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, set out to discover what was causing these deformities, which some researchers were attributing to the use of an agricultural pesticide called atrazine. Skelly launched an experiment in ponds throughout Connecticut, studying frogs in four landscapes: forests, agricultural areas, suburbs, and cities. And what he found was surprising — the highest rates of deformities were not occurring in and around farmlands, but in cities and suburbs.

In an interview with Yale Environment 360 contributing writer Carl Zimmer, Skelly described what chemicals may be causing these abnormalities in frog populations, and explained why this phenomena may have troubling implications not only for amphibians, but for other vertebrates, including humans. One thing seems clear: The deformities showing up in frogs are almost certainly not caused by a single chemical, but rather by a whole suite of substances — including medicines excreted by humans into the environment — that act in concert to mimic hormones like estrogen or cause other ill effects.

These cocktail of pesticides and various chemicals can wreak havoc on the environment. Please read the interview with Dr. Skelly in the link above. Some truly interesting stuff.

Many of our readers may remember this incident. When a letter of protest was written to The New Yorker magazine regarding the lack of content written by female writers. Why women hit the media glass ceiling | Megan Carpentier | Comment is free |

The writer and editor Anne Hays recently penned an open letter to the New Yorker on Facebook, demanding her money back for the most recent issue. Why? The New Yorker contained only two pieces by women – and it wasn’t the first time. The letter went viral and was republished by publications such as Ms. and the website Jezebel – which used it to note how few other submission-based magazines have a regular number of women writers. Naturally it had its detractors as well, including Donald Douglas, who declared it an example of “feminist schizophrenia”.

The letter sparked a broader discussion about how to raise the number of women represented on some of America’s most prestigious mastheads. A consensus of sorts emerged: that editors play a huge role in which pitches get accepted and to whom assignments go. Ann Friedman, a former editor at AlterNet and the American Prospect, wrote that getting more women published would require editors to take concrete steps to solicit pieces from women writers and to be constantly vigilant in their efforts to bring parity, lest the slots inevitably go to the squeakist freelancer wheel (the person that pitches the most, and the most hard) or to only a few recognisable names. The Nation’s Katha Pollitt wrote that women atop the masthead can ameliorate the problem but wouldn’t be enough to bring parity of access, even as their presence in the pool of potentials start to overwhelm that of men.

As an editor, I sympathise with The Awl editor Choire Sicha, who went from working for others to being his own boss and suffered the slings and arrows of having a liberal site that doesn’t quite achieve gender parity. In the media, as in my earlier career as a lobbyist, one comes to sadly realise that most applications come from men – even supremely unqualified ones. It’s difficult to constantly try to beg certain writers to provide you with their work when others are imploring you for an opportunity, but it’s no different in any industry: you promote the person asking for the promotion that they seemingly deserve more often than the utility player who fails to sell his or her work – and women are inevitably schooled in modesty while their male peers are schooled in self-promotion.

Meagan Carpentier goes on to discuss the rise of the woman in conservative media outlets, which do not have difficulty in employing and promoting women, when the left media has such difficulty in finding women writers and journalist as their ratio of female to male employees suggest. We mentioned the lack of women voices in the US main stream media coverage of the Egyptian protest here on Sky Dancing. I must reiterate my pleasure of watching the AJE coverage of the day Mubarak left the presidency. Their live feed coverage featured many women journalist, and it was wonderful to hear these women’s voices describing the events as they happened.

Speaking of Al Jazeera, it seems they are in talks to finally get their broadcast available on US Cable channels. (Hope satellite is next.)

Al Jazeera in Talks With Comcast Over U.S. Distribution | Epicenter |

Al Jazeera is in discussions with Comcast about bringing the network’s English-language channel to millions of U.S. homes via the nation’s largest cable operator. It would be a major breakthrough, capitalizing on the network’s growing reputation here as a honest and steadfast provider of news from an increasingly tumultuous Middle East.

“We’re very grateful for all the support and appreciation we’ve been receiving,” Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey said in a statement. “Clearly the demand is there for Al Jazeera, and people want to see us on their screens.”

Anstey arrived in New York City on Tuesday to lead the talks, the network said. The Comcast meeting was the first gambit in a new push by Al Jazeera to get on U.S. cable systems, which have been reluctant to carry the Qatar-based news network.

This next article from the NYT has a personal connection to me. When we lived in Manhattan, I loved going to Little Italy, to a restaurant called Vincent’s. They made the best Eggplant Parmigiano, and believe me I am one tough customer to please when it comes to Italian cooking.  That was over 10 years ago, and at the time I became aware of the encroachment of China Town on Mulberry Street. Even then the site of duck hanging in shop windows could be seen as you walked along the cross streets of Mulberry.

In New York’s Little Italy, Fewer and Fewer Italians –

In 1950, nearly half of the more than 10,000 New Yorkers living in the heart of Little Italy identified as Italian-American. The narrow streets teemed with children and resonated with melodic exchanges in Italian among the one in five residents born in Italy and their second- and third-generation neighbors.
Little Italy is becoming Littler Italy. The encroachment that began decades ago as Chinatown bulged north, SoHo expanded from the west, and other tracts were rebranded more fashionably as NoLIta (for north of Little Italy) and NoHo seems almost complete.

The Little Italy that was once the heart of Italian-American life in the city exists mostly as a nostalgic memory or in the minds of tourists who still make it a must-see on their New York itinerary.

The only streets that really feel like they belong to Little Italy, Mulberry and Grand, are still crammed with venerable Italian restaurants and shops. But Chinese-language advertisements for reflexology spas pepper the sidewalk, a poster announces the Lunar New Year celebration, and a “for rent” sign hangs on a new seven-story condominium building at 182 Mulberry.

I will end with a couple of links to movies that deal with Labor Union disputes. I know there are many more, so hopefully you will post some others in the comments below.

Norma Rae (1979) – IMDb – Whenever this movie comes on TV, I try to catch it. I just love it. Sally Field climbing on the table with the Union sign has to be such an iconic scene in film history.

The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) – IMDb From what I understand, there was a porno with a similar  title…but this film from 1941 has great dialogue…it is about a group of department store workers that are trying to form a union.  The store owner goes undercover to find out who is leading the workers, but realizes that the workers are actually correct in their demands. (Like this will ever happen in real life.) Anyway, it is fun to watch, and they usually play it on TCM when they celebrate Jean Arthur’s birthday.

So what are you reading today, hit it!