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WikiLeaks and the trouble with transparency
Topic: Society 12:28 pm EST, Dec  7, 2010

By Richard Cohen
Monday, December 6, 2010
The Washington Post

What the Clinton scandal and the WikiLeaks disclosures have in common is a sad collapse of the mainstream media's gatekeeper role. Newsweek presumably had good reasons to postpone publication of Isikoff's story - reasons that Drudge did not share. The Times had good cause to parse the WikiLeaks cache - lives could be in danger - but Assange launched them into cyberspace anyway, not caring if American interests were damaged. In fact, that might have been the whole point.

The natural reaction is to want to pop Assange in some way, possibly by indicting him for violating the totally impractical Espionage Act of 1917 or, in the superheated imaginations of some, by declaring him a terrorist and targeting him for something irrevocable. The trouble with any of this is that you inevitably get entangled with the Times and other newspapers such as The Post, which also has devoted considerable space and talent to the stories. They all enabled Assange to reach a wider audience - raise your hand if you actually visited his Web site - and moreover gave him what amounts to a journalistic Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval: See, this stuff is important.

Governments, like married couples, are entitled to their secrets - from us, from the kids and from the neighbors. Total transparency produces total opaqueness. If everything's open, no one says anything. If you want to know why there is no document detailing exactly when George W. Bush decided to go to war in Iraq, it's because of something Dick Cheney once said: "I learned early on that if you don't want your memos to get you in trouble someday, just don't write any." On Iraq, he and Bush followed that rule.

The WikiLeaks brouhaha will pass. Diplomats will once again be indiscreet at cocktail parties and rat out one another in the same way some people marry repeatedly, each time forever. The only thing worse than indiscretion is efforts to punish the miscreants by eroding the core constitutional right to publish all but the most obvious and blatant national security secrets. The government has to get better at keeping secrets. Muzzle the leakers - but not the press.


WikiLeaks and the trouble with transparency

Julian Assange Fired From IT Job At Pentagon
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:31 pm EST, Dec  6, 2010

The Onion
December 1, 2010
ISSUE 46•48

ARLINGTON, VA—With officials describing his publication of sensitive U.S. State Department documents as "the last straw," Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was asked to resign from his position as the Pentagon's IT coordinator Monday. "We gave him his first warning after the whole Iraq and Afghanistan war diaries thing, and strike two was when he forwarded that video montage of Nicolas Cage yelling to the entire staff," Defense Department human resources director Curtis Shannon said. "But we just can't overlook this latest offense. Even if he's the only one who knows where the spare USB cables are." At press time, Assange had already been invited to interview for an IT position at the Central Intelligence Agency.

Julian Assange Fired From IT Job At Pentagon

EDITORIAL: Wave goodbye to Internet freedom
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:34 am EST, Dec  3, 2010

EDITORIAL: Wave goodbye to Internet freedom
FCC crosses the Rubicon into online regulation

7:02 p.m., Thursday, December 2, 2010

With a straight face, Mr. Genachowski suggested that government red tape will increase the "freedom" of online services that have flourished because bureaucratic busybodies have been blocked from tinkering with the Web. Ordinarily, it would be appropriate at this point to supply an example from the proposed regulations illustrating the problem. Mr. Genachowski's draft document has over 550 footnotes and is stamped "non-public, for internal use only" to ensure nobody outside the agency sees it until the rules are approved in a scheduled Dec. 21 vote. So much for "openness."

EDITORIAL: Wave goodbye to Internet freedom

Newspaper, Businesses Feud in Tennessee Over Claims of 'Hate Rhetoric'
Topic: Society 11:30 am EDT, Jul  1, 2010

A small Tennessee-based newspaper has become the center of a free speech firestorm after it was banned from a grocery store chain and a KFC for allegedly publishing "hate" speech. The Rutherford Reader, a family owned and operated business, runs feature columns of local interest, many of which lately have related to controversy surrounding a mosque being built in Rutherford County.

The columns didn't sit well with at least one patron who complained to several companies that they amounted to hate speech after a guest columnist in April referred to Islam as "evil." One month later, the Reader was dropped from Kroger grocery stores, and soon after from a local KFC. Now the paper is threatening to sue, saying this is a blatant breach of its First Amendment rights.

U. S. Constitution, Amendment I:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The last time I checked, Congress doesn't run grocery stores or fast food restaurants... only banks and automobile manufacturers (and possibly oil companies). ;)

Newspaper, Businesses Feud in Tennessee Over Claims of 'Hate Rhetoric'

Justices extend gun owner rights nationwide.
Topic: Society 11:00 am EDT, Jun 28, 2010

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court held Monday that the Constitution's Second Amendment restrains government's ability to significantly limit "the right to keep and bear arms," advancing a recent trend by the John Roberts-led bench to embrace gun rights.

Writing for the court in a case involving restrictive laws in Chicago and one of its suburbs, Justice Samuel Alito said that the Second Amendment right "applies equally to the federal government and the states."

Justices extend gun owner rights nationwide.

Spyder III Pro Arctic Series Laser
Topic: Technology 11:12 am EDT, Jun 16, 2010

Switched article

Gizmodo article

Fox News article

Spyder III Pro Arctic Series Laser

Topic: Technology 12:45 pm EDT, May 20, 2010

The Onion
May 20, 2010 | ISSUE 46•20

By "checking in," users can earn tangible, real-world rewards. For instance, the Foursquare user with the most points at any given venue earns the designation of "mayor" and can receive discounts, free food, or other prizes that, quite honestly, we're thoroughly disgusted with ourselves for having actually researched.


Everybody Draw Mohammed Day
Topic: Society 3:45 pm EDT, May 19, 2010

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day! is a protest against Islamists who attempt to restrict freedom of speech by threatening violence against anyone who offends them or Islam. It originally began as a protest against censorship of South Park episode "201" by Comedy Central in response to death threats from radical Islamists. It started with a drawing posted on the Internet on April 20, 2010, the suggestion in it that everybody create a drawing representing Muhammad, the founder of Islam, on May 20, 2010, as a protest against efforts to limit freedom of speech, and the movement in support of that protest.

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

The Vader Project
Topic: Arts 1:46 pm EDT, May 18, 2010

The premise of The Vader Project is simple -- simply awesome, that is: 100 of the best underground artists and designers working today rethink the iconic black helmet that defined Darth Vader. What started as a simple idea in 2005 became a record-setting exhibition in 2009. Now for the first time, these unique pieces of art will be available to the public in an auction.

Here's the website.

The Vader Project

Photo Of The Day
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:16 pm EDT, May 14, 2010

In this case, two photos of the day: the Cold War Unicorns Play Set.

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