Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

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Taking Fox For What It Is

Eric Boehlert ties together nicely what every one of us already knows:

Fox News has exited the journalism community this year. It’s a purely political player, and journalists ought to start covering it that way.

[ . . . ]

A few years ago, the dumbed-down debate surrounding Fox News was whether it truly was fair and balanced. (It wasn’t.) Today, it’s whether Fox News is truly a news organization. (It’s not.) Yet journalists remain way too timid in spelling out the truth. Spooked by right-wing attacks about the so-called liberal media, Beltway media insiders, who certainly understand Fox News’ brazen political maneuver in 2009, continue to play dumb on a massive scale and cover Fox News as a news media organization.

Why does this matter?

It’s important that this trend now stop. The self-evident truth needs to be told, and news consumers need to understand the extraordinary forces that have been unleashed — forces that dramatically altered the media landscape. News consumers also need to understand why it’s becoming increasingly impossible to maintain any kind of public discourse regarding the issues of the day, especially health care reform, when a major so-called news organization is devoted to spreading as much misinformation as possible.

It’s doing real damage to this country, and once again, most of the press is unwilling to cover it honestly.

Robert Kaplan on Al Jazeera

He’s got a pretty solid piece up about the channel, and much of it aligns with my reasons for regularly recommending the channel to others.

AP Fail

Honestly, I just don’t know what to say about the Associated Press and its lawyers, these days:

The Associated Press — which thinks you owe it a license fee if you quote more than four words from one of its articles — doesn’t even care if the words actually came from its article. They’ll charge you anyway, even if you’re quoting from the public domain.

I picked a random AP article and went to their “reuse options” site. Then, when they asked what I wanted to quote, I punched in Thomas Jefferson’s famous argument against copyright. Their license fee: $12 for an educational 26-word quote. FROM THE PUBLIC FREAKING DOMAIN, and obviously, obviously not from the AP article. But the AP is too busy trying to squeeze the last few cents out of a dying business model to care about little things like free speech or the law.

Get Your (Class) War On

One of the human qualities I find myself least able to deal with is a lack of self-awareness.  And that’s the only thing I can imagine explains this:

A year after SLJ reported on the contentious dispute over a proposal to add a children’s room to the East Hampton Library in New York, the kids of the posh summer community are no closer to seeing it become a reality.

Library Director Dennis Fabiszak has said that the East Hampton Village Board of Zoning Appeals has expressed concern that an expanded children’s collection would lead to more library usage by those who live in the less affluent areas of Springs and Wainscott.

Poor kids reading books?  Oh noes!

Understanding the New Associated Press DRM

As good an explanation as any, I think.

Reason #431 You’ll Not Get Useful Health Care Policy News from WaPo


For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to “those powerful few” — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.

The astonishing offer is detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he feels it’s a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff.”

Your free press hard at work. Meanwhile, Dana Milbank is still whining about the Internets asking questions.

Friday Notes: Bits Edition

In William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, there’s an online community formed around mysteriously found video (the Footage), which was being released in bits and pieces online.  I always wondered if there were real world examples of that – and it turns out, yes:

If there is no known footage of [early 20th century dancer Vaslav Nijinsky], where was this archival footage coming from? From the New Yorker article:

“Because it turns out, these aren’t films. They are computer-generated artifacts, made by Christian Comte, a French artist who has a studio in Cannes.


You’ve seen this, right?  Fox sure does “accidentally” turn a lot of Republicans into Democrats at the most opportune times.


Best movie review I’ve read in a long time.  Ever, perhaps.


Astana’s Chris Horner won’t be at the Tour de France this year, and he plainly explains why.


Few quicker ways to piss off a cop (and find yourself in manufactured trouble) than to ask for his badge number.  Funny, that.


I understand why they blurred out “fucktaco”, but “ballsack”?  Really?  In any event, I must be 12, because I found the whole thing quite amusing.


Health insurers defrauding their clients?  Well I never . . .

China’s “Green Dam”

could just as easily have been the US’s “Freedom Filter”. And may yet be, if you keep thinking of the children.

More about China’s “Green Dam”.

Doing It Wrong: US, Canada, EU Opposing the Right of the Blind to Read

Once again, we’ve got an ugly illustration that “Big IP” has almost completely captured the US government’s policy positions, resulting in absurd things like this:

Right now, in Geneva, at the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization, history is being made. For the first time in WIPO history, the body that creates the world’s copyright treaties is attempting to write a copyright treaty dedicated to protecting the interests of copyright users, not just copyright owners.

At issue is a treaty to protect the rights of blind people and people with other disabilities that affect reading (people with dyslexia, people who are paralyzed or lack arms or hands for turning pages), introduced by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay. This should be a slam dunk: who wouldn’t want a harmonized system of copyright exceptions that ensure that it’s possible for disabled people to get access to the written word?

The USA, that’s who. The Obama administration’s negotiators have joined with a rogue’s gallery of rich country trade representatives to oppose protection for blind people. Other nations and regions opposing the rights of blind people include Canada and the EU.

And what’s the awful thing that the US, EU, and Canada won’t stand for? From James Love:

I am attending a meeting in Geneva of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This evening the United States government, in combination with other high income countries in “Group B” is seeking to block an agreement to discuss a treaty for persons who are blind or have other reading disabilities.

The proposal for a treaty is supported by a large number of civil society NGOs, the World Blind Union, the National Federation of the Blind in the US, the International DAISY Consortium, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), Bookshare.Org, and groups representing persons with reading disabilities all around the world.

The main aim of the treaty is to allow the cross-border import and export of digital copies of books and other copyrighted works in formats that are accessible to persons who are blind, visually impaired, dyslexic or have other reading disabilities, using special devices that present text as refreshable braille, computer generated text to speech, or large type. These works, which are expensive to make, are typically created under national exceptions to copyright law that are specifically written to benefit persons with disabilities…

The opposition from the United States and other high income countries is due to intense lobbying from a large group of publishers that oppose a “paradigm shift,” where treaties would protect consumer interests, rather than expand rights for copyright owners.

Citizens?  They’re just consumers.  Shut up and buy what we want you to.

Wolfram Alpha Launches at 8pm EDT

Check it here.

(What’s Wolfram Alpha?)

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