Michelle MacDonald, the Republican nominee for the Minnesota Supreme Court who neglected to disclose her upcoming trial for a DWI, is coming under fire for promising GOP officials that she would base her opinions on Biblical principles.
During a speech she gave at the Minnesota GOP convention in Rochester on May 30, 2014, she told the delegates that “when judges used to enter the courtroom, they would hold a Bible over their head, like this,” and then held a Bible over her head.
“In the words of George Washington,” she continued, “it is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” According to Mount Vernon Library, that spurious quotation is “frequently misattributed to Washington, particularly in regards to his farewell address of 1796.”
She concluded her speech by saying, “God bless you, God bless your children, God bless your families, and let’s all ask God to bless America again.”
The Obama administration rolled out a plan on Friday to protect access to copay-free birth control for women in response to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.
A new “proposed rule” by the Department of Health and Human Services lets female employees of for-profit businesses, like Hobby Lobby, obtain birth control directly from their insurer, at no extra cost, if their boss opts out of covering the service in the company’s insurance plan for religious reasons.
The move extends an accommodation that already exists for non-profit organizations, which are allowed to refuse to cover for birth control. In short, the religious owners can pass the cost on to the insurer so that they’re no longer complicit in what they view as sin.
“Women across the country deserve access to recommended preventive services that are important to their health, no matter where they work,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to providing women with access to coverage for contraception, while respecting religious considerations raised by non-profit organizations and closely held for-profit companies.”
PERSPECTIVE IS A BITCH:The Staggeringly High/Shockingly Under-Reported-Rate of White on White Murder
Why oh why is no one commenting on the insanely high rate of of white on white murder? Bill O’Reilly? Joe Klein, of Time magazine, who devotes his whole column to write this week on black on black murder, in response to Ferguson? Anybody? Because bringing up the canard of black on black crime whenever a white man kills a black man is just how the right-wing—and apparently the mainstream—media rolls.
Note to smug white racists: Take a look at the real numbers. According to the FBI’s most recent homicide statistics, vox.com reports, “the United States is in the wake of an epidemic of white-on-white crime. Back in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, a staggering 83 percent of white murder victims were killed by fellow Caucasians.
As Vox’s Matthew Iglesias writes, rather brilliantly:
Media’s dirty little secret about trolls, one that is illuminating about several right wing sites and how their obnoxious audience is their business model. The question that advertisers need to ask when confronted with this sort of business model : are the troll clicks worth the extra money we spend? Do Trolls buy as much as the general readership?
Trolls have been causing havoc online since the early days of the internet, disrupting online debate and directing offensive language and images at other users. But the problem continues to stymie the media, the public, and tech experts alike. This past week gave plenty of cause to revisit the issue as Jezebel called attention to its problems with porn spam, and troll attacks caused Robin Williams’ daughter, Zelda Williams, to leave social media indefinitely.
In both cases, trolls became stories because media outlets covered and analyzed both incidents, often accompanied by powerful adjectives such as ‘slimy’ and ‘vicious,’ or nouns such as ‘creeps’ and ‘sociopaths.’ As anyone who tells stories for a living will know, a narrative that includes such strong emotions will usually attract an audience. And so they did.
But the stories, in internet jargon, also fed the trolls—the spotlight is where they thrive, so this coverage of online events ends up making them stronger. In other words, media and the trolls are locked in a symbiotic relationship.
Better Living Thru Science
An undergraduate team at North Carolina State University might have just revolutionized your make-up drawer. The four students are working to develop a nail polish that changes color if it comes into contact with date rape drugs Rohypnol and GHB. That means that women who wear the new polish—dubbed Undercover Colors—could determine whether their drink has had an unwelcome ingredient added just by dipping in a finger.
“In the U.S.,18% of women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime,” the team wrote on their Facebook page. “They are our daughters, they are our girlfriends, and they are our friends. Our goal is to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime.”
A community in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, continues to mourn and protest the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot dead by the police on Saturday. The details of Brown’s death are still unfolding as witnesses come forward and the Justice Department pursues a federal investigation. But there is one fact we do know: Black and brown men experience a disproportionate amount of harassment, violence and killing by police. Brown’s killing occurred on the heels of Eric Garner’s death last month from a police chokehold and the police shooting of John Crawford III in an Ohio Walmart last week. And these are just the cases that have gained major media attention.
The killing of Michael Brown, who was slated to begin college this week, made Ferguson resident and protester Monica Timmons thankful that she isn’t a mother:
Let’s be real, you know? What do our sons got to look forward to? This? You want to bring a son to this? So he can get killed? No
Once again the ACLU points out a dichotomy presented by our times. And our President is caught between a rock and a hard place, largely of his own administrations making.
It’s not just the record breaking prosecutions of leakers. He is responsible for DOD policy that delineates what surplus equipment gets mothballed or distributed and why. His DOJ may need to be more proactive on police, the DOD and racial tensions and injustices. It’s not that I feel he should be excoriated, but I think we see a lot of room for improvement.
Addressing events in Ferguson, President Obama had some encouraging words last week that defended this country’s proud tradition of media freedom. “Here, in the United States of America,” he said, “police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.”
But those strong words, a reflection of the foundational role of the media in our democracy, belie what has become a sustained attack by the government on press freedoms.
The Obama administration is the most aggressive in U.S. history when it comes to prosecuting journalists’ sources for disclosing unauthorized leaks. It has gone after the journalists, too. In just one example, it continues to pursue a Bush-era subpoena of James Risen, a New York Times journalist, to testify against a source accused of leaking information about CIA efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program. In an effort to sever journalists from their sources, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently went so far as to sign a directive forbidding intelligence officials from talking to the press - even about unclassified matters - without securing permission in advance.
Widespread government surveillance, in addition to imperiling the privacy rights of millions of Americans, has also severely undermined the freedom of the press. A recent ACLU-Human Rights Watch report shows that many journalists have found information and sources increasingly hard to come by. To make matters more burdensome, they’ve had to resort to elaborate techniques to keep their communications secret. The result? We get less information about what our government is doing in our name.
Here’s the slapfight as it’s going down
In my humble view the FCC needs to set aside spectrum specifically for machine to machine communications (M2M) and the industry really needs to set some standards for use of those wavelengths. (Encryption, keys/certificates required, IPV6 with full certed Machine addresses only, protocols supported, etc. etc. - spoofing a machine to talk to another machine ought to be hard to nearly impossible, and traceable.)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that wireless operators view spectrum as a scarce and precious commodity. That’s why there’s always dissension over who gets it and for what purposes.
The latest spat is between the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , over the FCC’s plan to sell wireless operators TV airways to free up the spectrum for 4G LTE next year. (See FCC Could Block Sprint/T-Mobile Spectrum JV.)
The NAB claims the FCC is hurting the business of those stations that don’t participate in the auction by reducing their coverage area anyway. The FCC’s rule allowing the change would cause viewership to shrink “after the FCC ‘repacks’ TV stations into a shrunken TV band,” the group writes, in a petition for review filed with the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
When Jodi Rudoren, Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, read Monday’s statement from the Foreign Press Association in Israel and the Palestinian territories, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
The association, representing some 480 resident correspondents and hundreds more visiting Israel/Palestine each year, protested “in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.”
The FPA said it knew of journalists who were “harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media” and accused Hamas of “trying to put in place a ‘vetting’ procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists.”
“Every reporter I’ve met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense,” Rudoren tweeted, referring to Israeli accusations that Hamas pressure on foreign reporters had helped massage the messages coming out of Gaza in the last month.
Rudoren’s Tweet was followed by a furious email exchange with the FPA, in which Rudoren denounced the statement as “dangerous.”
Crispian Balmer, last year’s FPA chairman and former Jerusalem bureau chief for Reuters, told Haaretz the FPA was not in the habit of issuing such protests without very good reason.
“When I was on the FPA board, we took our statements very seriously,” said Crispian Balmer. “They were never written on a whim and were only issued after broad consultation - either face-to-face at a board meeting or via a stream of email exchanges. Our prime concern was always the well-being of the foreign press pack and we would not pull our punches if we thought our members needed vocal support. We would certainly never issue broad statements condemning the behavior of one side or the other if we did not feel that a good number of our members had been impacted.”
Even more intriguing, Rudoren’s deputy at the NYT, Isabel Kershner, was one of the FPA board members who approved the statement. How could two colleagues from the same newspaper observing the same sequence of events come to such different conclusions?
“I was not in Gaza during the height of the hostilities, I have only been here a week,” Rudoren told me. “But in conversations with many colleagues, those who were here from NYT and other major news organizations who I trust, I have not heard about harassment, intimidation, censorship or threats. There have been a few anecdotes re Hamas people shooing photographers away from fighters’ faces at the hospitals, asking people not to shoot this or that, and yes, names and phone numbers were taken down in a spiral notebook of who was here, but nothing that these veteran war correspondents consider unusual.”
“I am confident the FPA based its statement on detailed reports from members regarding their experiences on the ground, and only had the best intention of protecting journalists and journalism, as it always does. But I found the wording of the statement overly broad, and, especially given the narrative playing out in some social media circles regarding foreign correspondents being taken in by the Hamas narrative and not reporting on the war fully or fairly, I was concerned that it undermined what I consider to have been brave and excellent work by very talented people,” she said.
Rudoren wasn’t actually there. Her conclusions are based on talking to colleagues. But several other reporters who spoke to Haaretz agreed with her. British freelancer Harry Fear was reporting for Russia Today TV when he was asked to leave Gaza by three plainclothes Hamas officials at Al-Shifa Hospital, apparently for referring to rocket launches near his hotel. But Fear said he did not feel he had been subjected to intimidation or interference for the four weeks he reported from Gaza, where he has worked intermittently since 2012.
More at Haaretz, including THIS:
Some reporters received death threats. Sometimes, cameras were smashed. Reporters were prevented from filming anti-Hamas demonstrations where more than 20 Palestinians were shot dead by Hamas gunmen.