07/31/2012 archive


Twitter Restores Journalist’s Account But Remains at Ethical Crossroads

By Mat Honan, Wired

July 31, 2012

When news broke that Twitter had suspended journalist Guy Adams’ account for violating its privacy rules by tweeting the email address of NBC executive Gary Zenkel, it sent shock waves across the Twitter community.

Here’s an interesting thought experiment. Imagine that instead of going after an NBC executive, Adams’ target was a dictator. Imagine that Adams tweeted, say, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s email address, along with a call to action to protest his policies. Had Twitter worked back-channel with the Syrian government, showing it how to have Adams’ account taken down on a technicality, it would clearly be an indefensible act of censorship. Heads would roll.

But even though the issues at play are smaller when someone criticizes Olympic coverage, Twitter’s actions are no more defensible. Especially because Adams broke none of Twitter’s rules.

Just because the Adams flare-up revolves around sports on TV, Twitter should take this no less seriously than were it a geopolitical issue. The same principle is at stake: free speech. Although Twitter must comply with local laws, none were broken in this case. Twitter should defend that principle, or abandon it completely. There’s no room for middle ground – especially when it involves a corporate partner. Users are right to be distrustful of Twitter after this debacle. Reinstating Guy Adams’ account was a good first step, but Twitter needs to go farther.

It needs to treat the person who gave special favor to NBC no differently than it would treat someone who gives special favors to the Syrian regime. It must stand by its “tweets will flow” stance in every case if it’s to demonstrate that it stands for principles, and not just marketing.

Or, it can be a big media player, like its partner, Comcast, which owns NBC.

Just another example of the casual crony corruption of the current capitalist system.

It’s worse than that Ezra

A World Without Coral Reefs

By ROGER BRADBURY, The New York Times

July 13, 2012

It’S past time to tell the truth about the state of the world’s coral reefs, the nurseries of tropical coastal fish stocks. They have become zombie ecosystems, neither dead nor truly alive in any functional sense, and on a trajectory to collapse within a human generation. There will be remnants here and there, but the global coral reef ecosystem – with its storehouse of biodiversity and fisheries supporting millions of the world’s poor – will cease to be.

Overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution are pushing coral reefs into oblivion. Each of those forces alone is fully capable of causing the global collapse of coral reefs; together, they assure it. The scientific evidence for this is compelling and unequivocal, but there seems to be a collective reluctance to accept the logical conclusion – that there is no hope of saving the global coral reef ecosystem.

But by persisting in the false belief that coral reefs have a future, we grossly misallocate the funds needed to cope with the fallout from their collapse. Money isn’t spent to study what to do after the reefs are gone – on what sort of ecosystems will replace coral reefs and what opportunities there will be to nudge these into providing people with food and other useful ecosystem products and services. Nor is money spent to preserve some of the genetic resources of coral reefs by transferring them into systems that are not coral reefs. And money isn’t spent to make the economic structural adjustment that communities and industries that depend on coral reefs urgently need. We have focused too much on the state of the reefs rather than the rate of the processes killing them.

Overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution have two features in common. First, they are accelerating. They are growing broadly in line with global economic growth, so they can double in size every couple of decades. Second, they have extreme inertia – there is no real prospect of changing their trajectories in less than 20 to 50 years. In short, these forces are unstoppable and irreversible. And it is these two features – acceleration and inertia – that have blindsided us.

This is not a story that gives me any pleasure to tell. But it needs to be told urgently and widely because it will be a disaster for the hundreds of millions of people in poor, tropical countries like Indonesia and the Philippines who depend on coral reefs for food. It will also threaten the tourism industry of rich countries with coral reefs, like the United States, Australia and Japan. Countries like Mexico and Thailand will have both their food security and tourism industries badly damaged. And, almost an afterthought, it will be a tragedy for global conservation as hot spots of biodiversity are destroyed.

What we will be left with is an algal-dominated hard ocean bottom, as the remains of the limestone reefs slowly break up, with lots of microbial life soaking up the sun’s energy by photosynthesis, few fish but lots of jellyfish grazing on the microbes. It will be slimy and look a lot like the ecosystems of the Precambrian era, which ended more than 500 million years ago and well before fish evolved.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Dean Baker: The CEO Plan to Steal Your Social Security and Medicare

Many people are following the presidential election closely with the idea that the outcome will have a major impact on national policy. However, according to Steven Pearlstein, a veteran Washington Post columnist and reporter, it may not matter who wins the election. In a column last week, Pearlstein told readers that the top executives of some of the country’s largest companies are getting together to craft a budget package that they will try to push through Congress and get the president to sign. [..]

Many of the same folks who brought the economy to ruin just a few years ago are now going to come up with a plan that is supposed to set the budget and the economy on a forward path. At the center of their proposal are big cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

Robert Reich: The Terrible Economy and the Anti-Election of 2012

The worst economy since the Great Depression and you might think at least one of the candidates would come up with a few big ideas for how to get us out of it.

But you’d be wrong. Neither candidate wants to take any chances by offering any large, serious proposals. Both are banking instead on negative campaigns that convince voters the other guy would be worse.

President Obama has apparently decided against advancing any bold ideas for what he’d do in the second term, even if he has a Congress that would cooperate with him.

He’s sticking to a worn script that says George W. Bush caused the lousy economy, congressional Republicans have opposed everything he’s wanted to do to boost it, it’s slowly on the mend anyway, the Bush tax cuts shouldn’t be extended for the rich, and we shouldn’t take a chance electing Romney.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The GOP/Lockheed Martin “Layoff Notice” Hoax – We’ll Need Some “E. Coli Notices” If It Succeeds

The defense fatcats and their Republican kittens in Congress are up in arms – metaphorically speaking,of course – over the possibility that an agreement which the GOP signed might actually take effect as agreed.

They hate when then happens. So they’re cooking something up that could create big problems for your wallet … not to mention your digestive tract.

Republicans routinely express contempt at the thought of using government funds to save jobs. But when it comes to defense spending, they want us to know that government funds should be used to save jobs. For their part, defense contractors just want our money. So, in what appears to be a coordinated plan, Lockheed Martin is threatening to send out fraudulent “layoff notices” to over one hundred thousand employees, while its minions in Congress simultaneously demand that the Pentagon do the same.

David Shuster: Yes, Protecting the Social Safety Net Is a Political Winner

As Republicans target America’s social safety net, a top Democrat is now urging colleagues to join the fight, describing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as “winners.”

Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Co-Chair of the House Task Force on Seniors, spoke with reporters today to mark the 47th anniversary of Medicare. She said, “If everybody took a deep breath and looked at the reality of how this is going to help them and their families, this is a great issue for us to campaign on.” [..]

Congresswoman Schakowsky was a member of the Simpson-Bowles Commission and voted against the co-chairs’ plan. She knows that it would be bad policy to cut Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, and even worse politics. Democrats should follow her lead: Instead of running away from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, they should run toward the programs and vow to protect them. It’s an approach that will win in November and strengthen our society.

Colin A. Carter and Henry I. Miller: Corn for Food, Not Fuel

IT is not often that a stroke of a pen can quickly undo the ravages of nature, but federal regulators now have an opportunity to do just that. Americans’ food budgets will be hit hard by the ongoing Midwestern drought, the worst since 1956. Food bills will rise and many farmers will go bust.

An act of God, right? Well, the drought itself may be, but a human remedy for some of the fallout is at hand – if only the federal authorities would act. By suspending renewable-fuel standards that were unwise from the start, the Environmental Protection Agency could divert vast amounts of corn from inefficient ethanol production back into the food chain, where market forces and common sense dictate it should go.

Robert Fisk: Syrian War of Lies and Hypocrisy

The West’s real target here is not Assad’s brutal regime but his ally, Iran, and its nuclear weapons

Has there ever been a Middle Eastern war of such hypocrisy? A war of such cowardice and such mean morality, of such false rhetoric and such public humiliation? I’m not talking about the physical victims of the Syrian tragedy. I’m referring to the utter lies and mendacity of our masters and our own public opinion – eastern as well as western – in response to the slaughter, a vicious pantomime more worthy of Swiftian satire than Tolstoy or Shakespeare. [..]

And all the while, we forget the “big” truth. That this is an attempt to crush the Syrian dictatorship not because of our love for Syrians or our hatred of our former friend Bashar al-Assad, or because of our outrage at Russia, whose place in the pantheon of hypocrites is clear when we watch its reaction to all the little Stalingrads across Syria. No, this is all about Iran and our desire to crush the Islamic Republic and its infernal nuclear plans – if they exist – and has nothing to do with human rights or the right to life or the death of Syrian babies. Quelle horreur!

The American Police State

After 9/11, many of us raised our voices in protest over the passage of the Patriot Act and the radical policies of the Bush/Cheney regime that are still a threat to American civil liberties and violations of the laws of this country. One of the most frightening aspects of the nebulous “war on terror’ has been the militarization of civilian police departments across the country and the increased violence and brutality of police officers against unarmed civilians. Increased and unchecked police abuse became evident in New York City and Oakland, California last fall with the brutal tactics used to end the Occupy Wall St. protests.

Now, in Anaheim, California, the same abusive tactics are being used against peaceful protests over the police shooting of an unarmed Latino man on July 20 that has triggered massive protests and another overreaction by the police to the unarmed civilian protests. Manuel Diaz, 25, and, according to the Anaheim police, a know gang member, was shot in the back and left to bleed in the street after fleeing the police. He was unarmed. The police reaction to the gathering crowds are well documented by cell phone videos and the local TV station. The police fired rubber bullets and bean bas at women and children and allowed a police dog to attack a child in a stroller, letting the dog attack the parents as they attempted to protect their child. All of these people are residents of the neighborhood where Diaz was shot.

It may have been the eight such incident this year in the home of Disneyland but it an exampled of a growing number of police shootings and brutal tactics that is becoming routine in “less white” America. In an article at Tomdispatch, Stephan Salisbury analyzes the Diaz and other shootings, who is being killed and at risk, in what numbers and how post 9/11 funding has made matters worse:

Since 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security has allocated $30 to $40 billion to local police for all manner of training programs and equipment upgrades. Other federal funding has also been freely dispensed.

Yet for all the beefing up of post-9/11 visual surveillance, communications, and Internet-monitoring capabilities, for all the easing of laws governing searches and wiretaps, law enforcement authorities failed to pick up on the multiple weapons purchases, the massive Internet ammo buys, and the numerous package deliveries to the dark apartment in the building on Paris Street where preparations for the Aurora massacre took place for months.

Orange County, where Manuel Diaz lived, now has a fleet of seven armored vehicles. SWAT officers turn out in 30 to 40 pounds of gear, including ballistic helmets, safety goggles, radio headsets with microphones, bulletproof vests, flash bangs, smoke canisters, and loads of ammunition. The Anaheim police and other area departments are networked by countywide Wi-Fi. They run their own intelligence collection and dissemination center. They are linked to surveillance helicopters.

In a study (pdf) conducted by  the Global Justice Clinic at New York University’s School of Law and the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic at Fordham Law School, the New York City Police Department was found to have ‘consistently violated basic rights’ during the Occupy Wall Street protests and showed a ‘shocking level of impunity’:

The study details the increasingly common practices of “excessive police use of force against protesters, bystanders, journalists, and legal observers; constant obstructions of media freedoms, including arrests of journalists; unjustified and sometimes violent closure of public space, dispersal of peaceful assemblies, and corralling and trapping protesters en masse,” the report states. [..]

The report is the first section of a several part series covering police response to Occupy protests in cities around the US, revealing a national epidemic abusive of power. [..]

The report claims the NYPD has also violated international human rights law, stating:

“Full respect for assembly and expression rights is necessary for democratic participation, the exchange of ideas, and for securing positive social reform. The rights are guaranteed in

international law binding upon the United States. Yet U.S. authorities have engaged in persistent breaches of protest rights since the start of Occupy Wall Street.”

In her last program at RT network, Alyona Minkovski discussed the aspects police state issues with FDL‘s founder, Jane Hamsher and Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald.

On This Day In History July 31

On this day in 1948, the Broadway musical “Brigadoon” closed after 581 performances. It originally opened on March 13, 1947 at the Ziegfeld Theater. It was directed by Robert Lewis and choreographed by Agnes de Mille. Ms. De Mille won the Tony Award for Best Choreography. The show was had several revival and the movie starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse premiered in 1954.

Brigadoon is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. Songs from the musical, such as “Almost Like Being in Love” have become standards.

It tells the story of a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every hundred years, though to the villagers, the passing of each century seems no longer than one night. The enchantment is viewed by them as a blessing rather than a curse, for it saved the village from destruction. According to their covenant with God, no one from Brigadoon may ever leave, or the enchantment will be broken and the site and all its inhabitants will disappear into the mist forever. Two American tourists, lost in the Scottish Highlands, stumble upon the village just as a wedding is about to be celebrated, and their arrival has serious implications for the village’s inhabitants.

XXX Olympiad- Day 7

So Saturday

Catch up guys, now we’re talking about this stuff-

A Five-Ring Opening Circus, Weirdly and Unabashedly British

By SARAH LYALL, The New York Times

Published: July 27, 2012

As is the case almost every Olympics, much of the speculation around it centered on how Britain could possibly surpass the previous summer host, China. In 2008, Beijing used its awe-inspiring opening extravaganza to proclaim in no uncertain terms that it was here, it was rich, and the world better get used to it.

That the Olympics come at a time of deep economic malaise, with Britain teetering on the edge of a double-dip recession, the government cutting billions of dollars from public spending, and Europe lurching from crisis to crisis, made the scene a bit surreal, even defiant in the face of so much adversity.

In The Guardian, the columnist Marina Hyde said government officials appeared to be rashly depending on the Olympics, which cost an estimated £9.3 billion (or $14.6 billion), to save the country’s struggling economy virtually single-handedly.

Referring to a British track-and-field star, Ms. Hyde wrote that according to the government’s thinking, “Jessica Ennis winning gold is no longer merely a sporting aspiration but something that would cause a massive and immediate recalibration of the balance of payments.”

Ok, maybe not that, how about this-

NBC fail shows network’s commitment to ‘the last great buggy-whip Olympics’

Heidi Moore, The Guardian

Monday 30 July 2012

I am using anti-internet-censorship technology of the kind that is favored by political dissidents trying to connect with the outside world against the wishes of oppressive regimes.

Normally, the Olympics would not require the kind of computer-address-scrambling technology used by revolutionaries, hackers and child pornographers – but good luck trying to get at live events any other way if you happen to live on US soil.

In response to the complaints, NBC stated its intentions publicly: to herd Olympics viewers into exclusively primetime viewership of the games. There was no sleight of hand in NBC’s admission: it was completely open.

It is absolutely extraordinary that smart viewers are frustrated with NBC’s coverage and flaunting their use of proxy services to watch the BBC. It is not piracy – the proxy services are legal, and the BBC has broadcast rights too – but the fact that tech CEOs, journalists and others are sharing tips about how to avoid a major network is a sign that the network is missing a crucial turning point in responding to what audiences want from Olympics coverage.

Why should they respond to what the people want when all the other elites don’t give a rat’s ass?  Personally I favor direct action-

South Korean fencer in protest after controversial Olympic defeat

Press Association, The Guardian

Monday 30 July 2012

The 25-year-old thought she was through to the final of the women’s épée when, to her horror and that of her coach, Shim Jaesung, the clock was reset from zero to one second. The score was 5-5 at the time, but that would have been good enough for her under the rule where one fencer is awarded “priority” when a contest goes into sudden death. When the action resumed the German Britta Heidemann, gold medallist four years ago, scored a do-or-die hit that eventually put her in the final against Ukraine’s Yana Shemyakana.

The Korean coach furiously launched an appeal against the decision that had allowed the fight to continue and it was nearly half an hour before it was announced to the crowd – slow-hand clapping by this stage – that Heidemann’s win stood. Shin … remained on the piste. The bronze medal match and the final both had to be put back while the row went on, but almost 75 minutes later Shin was led off.

Shin said: “I think it’s unfair. The one second was over – I should have won. The hour was really difficult, but I thought if I got a yellow card [for leaving the piste] I might not be able to fight for bronze. I’m very sorry for the spectators. They spent a lot of money and I just don’t understand how this could have happened.”

Broadcast Schedule

Time Network Sport Competitors
7 am Bravo Tennis (Men’s and Women’s Singles second round, Doubles quarterfinals) all
8 am Vs. Men’s Water Polo HUN v MNE
9 am MS Table Tennis (women’s quarterfinals) elimination
9 am Vs. Equestrian (Individual Jumping) all
9:30 am MS Women’s Football CAN v SWE
10 am NBC Canoe/Kayak (Whitewater C-1) (Medal) all
10:30 am NBC Swimming (Men’s 4x200m Free Relay, 100m Free, 200m Breast, Women’s 200m Fly) all
10:30 am Vs. Men’s Beach Volleyball BRA v SUI
11 am NBC Rowing (Men’s and Women’s Single Sculls quarterfinals, Men’s Double Sculls and Lightweight 4 semifinals) all
11 am Vs. Women’s Beach Volleyball BRA v GER
11 am MS Badminton (Men’s qualifying)
11:30 am NBC Men’s Volleyball USA v GER
noon Vs. Women’s Football USA v PRK
noon MS Women’s Football FRA v COL
1:30 pm NBC Swimming (4 events) all
2 pm Vs. Boxing (Fly and Welterweights) elimination
2 pm MS Women’s Field Hockey USA v ARG
2 pm NBC Rowing (9 events, Quarter and semifinals) all
2:30 pm NBC Men’s Water Polo USA v ROU
3 pm Vs. Men’s Basketball FRA v ARG
3:30 pm MS Women’s Football GBR v BRA
4 pm NBC Men’s Beach Volleyball USA v ESP
4:30 pm MS Table Tennis (Women’s Semifinal)
4:30 pm Vs. Shooting (Medal) all
5 pm MS Archery (Men’s) all
5 pm Vs. Men’s Basketball TUN v USA
5 pm CNBC Boxing (Fly and Welterweights) elimination
5:30 pm MS Weightlifting (Men’s and Women’s) (Medal) all
7 pm Vs. Men’s Volleyball BRA v RUS
8 pm NBC Prime Time (Women’s Gymnastics, Diving, Swimming (Men’s 200m Fly)) (Medal)
12:30 am NBC Late Night (Swimming (Men’s 200m Breast, Women’s 200m Fly Semifinals), Women’s Beach Volleyball (Quarterfinal)) USA
1:30 am NBC Prime Time repeat
3 am CNBC Boxing (Repeats) elimination
4 am Vs. Men’s Field Hockey ESP v AUS
5 am Vs. Women’s Volleyball DOM v JPN

All this is sourced through the NBC Olympics broadcast schedule.  Competition starts again at 6 am tomorrow.  

Competitions designated by (Medal) will award winners that day.  ‘all’ means not specified.  Sometimes NBC especially does mashups and doesn’t include event or competitor information.  Elimination means no round robin, one and done.

These schedules are a place for you to make sure you don’t miss a sport you like and share your observations.  Have fun today!

Dancing Horsies

One thing I got to see yesterday was the Cross Country part of the Team Overall Equestrian event.  Men and Women, no discrimination (except by money) Zara Phillips (Elizabeth’s grand daughter) was part of the UK Team and put in a respectable performance.  It was fun to watch, like riding through a miniature golf course and there were lots of crashes for you Turn Left fans.  Today they finish with Jumping so no Dancing Horsies.

Ok, maybe some.