Monday, July 31, 2006

New Florida politics blog

Naked Politics is a new blog on the Miami Herald website, written by The Herald's politics team with members in Tallahassee, South Florida, and Washington.

On another Florida politics note, the Florida Progressive Coalition website is launching tomorrow, at, where there's already an earlier organizing blog with links to Wikis.
A group of bloggers and activists in Florida are officially launching a
group blog and wiki related to Florida politics tomorrow...We recently conducted a live, exclusive online interview with Florida CFO candidate Alex Sink and have confirmed interviews with Congressional candidates Phyllis Busansky, Samm Simpson, Michael Calderin, state house candidate James Walker and the Yes on Amendment 4 campaign.
We're working on adding more. Our site is structured around a group blog that has more than 35 members and the most comprehensive site online about Florida politics and elections, set up in an interactive wiki encyclopedia format.

New links from last week

Late for an update this week, a bit down this weekend with jaw pain and tinnitis. Sort of a constant these days but worse than usual right now. On my way to get it checked out.
There were some good new links for researchers last week though:
The links:

  • Public Domain Music list from, where there's also a good list of other public domain music search sites.
  • Natural Hazards Gateway from USGS; links to factsheets, background for hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.

  • The Road to Nowhere: Everyone’s Strategic Failures in Lebanon Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies.
  • Mapping the Future of the World's Population PDF from Columbia's Center for Climate Systems Research.

  • Free birthday search.

  • NABE links, from Natl Assn for Business Economics. Links to lots of data, tools, and economics blogs.

  • National Geographic Map Machine, redesigned with easy road map navigation. PHysical maps available only for large areas (but are very nice), at least in some places.
  • Resourceshelf links to upcoming events calendars
  • JAKE, jointly administered knowledge environment, at Yale Med lib. Find which journals are available in which online database. Not updated since 2002 but still useful.
  • CUFTS journal search, similar project at Simon Fraser U. lib. (Thanks to Newslib list members for these links.)

    Some interesting stories/blogs:
  • on an offshore website about Florida medical plaintiffs
  • Pressthink on upcoming site
  • PINow news blog
  • Daily Caveat, blog on corruption, fraud and investigative research from a 'recovering corporate investigator'.

    Public Records:
  • NOZA, searchable database of charitable gifts. (basic list for free, details for small subscription fee). (via Researchbuzz.)
  • PI Buzz on finding military records.

  • News researchers praised, photogs in trouble

    There's a very nice article in American Journalism Review about the value of news researchers: Beyond the Byline. I've mentioned several other recent tributes to researchers; seems to be a trend.

    On the other hand, what's going on with news photographers? One was fired in Charlotte for adjusting the color of the sky on a fire photo. More on Visual Editors blog.
    In Miami, however, after New Times' Chuck Strouse revealed El Nuevo Herald had used a photomontage to illustrate what they claimed was lack of interest by Cuban police in enforcing anti-prostitution laws, nothing has happened, aside from an apology from the newspaper for not identifying it as a photomontage. Visual Editors on this story.

    Friday, July 28, 2006

    So far from Florida....

    So, Miamians, think you're the only ones with alligator problems? What's going on with all those reports of stray alligators in places like Long Island, New Jersey, and...inland Texas?
    So now, here's the ultimate lost 'gator: in the French Broad River near Asheville, NC, high up in the mountains. You know he didn't walk there. Asheville Citizen Times story, with photos.

    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Coverage from the scene

    Two independent journalists who are on the spot in the middle of the Israeli-Lebanon conflict: Kevin Sites, who did some of the earliest on-the-scene reporting by blog from Iraq (while -- and after -- with CNN) and who is now doing independent reports for Yahoo! HotZone.

    Also, Back to Iraq's Christopher Allbritton, who solicited donations to cover the war in Iraq as a blogger, and who has now been reporting from Tyre, as has Sites. From Albritton, who has doing some reporting for Time and other media sources, and living in Beirut:
    Why, oh, why do people with access to really big bombs continue to think they can change people’s loyalties by dropping those big bombs on their homes and families?

    From Sites, who was on the scene immediately after an Israeli bomb destroyed one building and killed and injured several next door:
    One man walking amid the rubble was a doctor who works at the Tyre Municipal Union, a collective of small villages and cities in the south. I had talked to him in his office earlier in the day. I asked him why he thought the building was targeted.
    "This is an example of American democracy," Dr. Raed Ghassan said. "This was my house. I hate America. I will fight America every day, every time."
    I asked him if he thought America was responsible for this, but he just walked away.

    Too much background

    TVCAlert links today to a story in the Washington Post: Agents Arrest Background Specialist at Hackers Forum. Steven 'Rombom, who also goes by Steven Rambam',
    owner and chief executive of the online investigative service Pallorium Inc., is accused of impersonating a federal officer this year while trying to locate a government informant involved in a 2003 money-laundering indictment of a former Brooklyn assistant district attorney.
    ...Before he could sit down to lead a Saturday afternoon panel discussion entitled "Privacy is Dead . . . Get Over It," federal agents moved in to arrest him for his methods of digging up information on people.

    Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    News and blogs

    Even if you can't stand to read one more story or blog posting on whether traditional news media or blogs are doing a better job of getting the news out, read this column on the Poynter site: Caring about the news again, by Doug McGill, about how a blog posting by a Lebanese girl named Eve made the news seem real.

    How many times can you say that about a newspaper story? Just read it.

    (Added later:) For an example of how good a job the media is doing (or conversely, how good a job some blogs are doing at spreading misinformation), see this Washington Times story: 50 percent of U.S. says Iraq had WMDs. That's up from 36 percent a year ago. Part of the 'they believe it, so it must be true' theory of journalism? Scary.

    Innovative journalism

    Among the finalists for the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism, some really interesting stuff, including work by a news researcher, Derek Willis, who compiled congressional votes for an online database set up on by Adrian Holovaty: Congressional Votes Database.

    Also in the list: Global Voices Online, which compiles news and blog postings from around the world; IBISEYE, from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which tracks hurricane probabilities;, a look at news coverage of health issues from a journalism prof; and Transparent Newsroom, where The Spokane Spokesman-Review posts webcasts of the daily editors' meeting.

    I've posted about all of these previously, but there are some other worthy finalists too.

    BTW, Derek points out a new journalism school blog about public records, which could be useful: News Reporting and Public Records, from Cory Armstrong at UF. Note the post called journalists love news researchers.

    Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    A story you don't hear about often

    In Sunday's Washington Post: The Cuban Solution, about American students attending medical school in Cuba. Fascinating:
    Back when Melissa was a premed student at Howard University, studying in the dark was never an issue. But this isn't Washington. This is Cuba, where Melissa, Revery and 95 other Americans are studying medicine in a country that's been an anathema to the United States for almost five decades. Thanks to Fidel Castro, their education is free. But that doesn't mean they aren't paying a price for turning to Cuba in their quest to become doctors. They've given up creature comforts most Americans take for granted, struggled to master hematology and other complicated subjects in a foreign language, and have no guarantees they will get a chance to practice medicine in the United States.

    Via Left I on the News, which has more excerpts.

    S. Fla. media notes

    Miami Herald investigations editor Mike Sallah is interviewed in PR Week, where he talks about his Pulitzer-winning (for the Toledo Blade)investigation of Tiger Force's activities in the Vietnam war, and about doing investigations in Miami:
    This is the candy store of American need the press here.

    Interesting comments, too, on whether blogging has any relevance for investigative journalism. In his opinion: not much, yet. (via Romenesko)

    On another South Florida journalist: I have become addicted to Bob Norman's Daily Pulp blog, and not just for the media criticism and gossip. It's posts like this one that do it for me: Nobody's Cornered the Market on Slaughter.
    There are a lot of people with death and destruction in their hearts and minds. America has to be bigger than that, we have to listen to the better angels of our nature.

    Monday, July 24, 2006

    Access to online archives

    The Miami Herald and other former Knight Ridder newspapers have been recently added to the archive search at KeepMedia. The archives are also searchable on FindArticles, linking back to KeepMedia in most cases.
    In both places, some articles are available for free, some by subscription. KeepMedia's fee is $4.95/month for as many articles as you need.

    Of course the entire archive of the papers, including the Herald back to 1982 or 1983, is still available through each newspaper's Website, such as , or all of them at NewsLibrary. (And if you have a library card, you may be able to search the articles for free, such as at the Miami-Dade Public Library's site.)


    GW Bush's off-mic comments the other day still resonate. Now they're being put to music, by lots of different folks (including Alan, although his version doesn't seem to be online yet). One, though, by Paul Hipp, was posted as a video on Huffington Post, but kudos to the Kos folks for transcribing the lyrics, with link to the video and suitable illustration: Stop This Shit: The Music Video. Starts out:
    George went over to Russia
    to that fancy G8 thing
    His friend big-hearted Vlad threw
    a real posh wing-a-ding

    Via Memeorandum today, link to a column in Haaretz by Gideon Levy: Stop Now, Immediately:
    From the start it was unnecessary, even if its excuse was justified, and now is the time to end it. Every day raises its price for no reason, taking a toll in blood that gives Israel nothing tangible in return.

    In this mien, here's Ralph Nader, in CounterPunch: Dear President Bush…Here’s How To Halt This Horror.

    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    Weekly update?

    Again, not much to add this week to what I've already posted. But here are a few links that came up in places like Resourceshelf and Docuticker (and others) which could be useful for research these days:

  • Timeline of key events in Lebanon from Infoplease.
  • Lebanese Security and the Hezbollah, report from Center for Strategic and International Studies.
  • The Almanac of Hunger and Poverty in America 2006 , from America's Second Harvest, includes statistics by state.
  • Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba: Report to the president, 2006
  • Indian Gaming Revenues 2005: Press release and Charts
  • Best Places to Live: 2006 (and previous reports) from Money.
  • Weather Observations and locations of ships at sea.

    On another note, the page of blog links has been updated, to include more local blog links and weed out inactive blogs. I'm still working on updating the research links there.

  • Where I used to work

    Amazing photo of the Miami Herald building and surrounding area with a serious storm overtaking the sunshine, on Flickr. Thanks to Rick at Stuck on the Palmetto for the link to this photo, from an unidentified source named James, in the Plaza Venetia building (maybe from Mike's bar?).

    Also via 'Stuck': don't miss the Don Wright cartoon on 'democracy' in the Middle East...

    Speaking of The Herald, today started a new investigative series by Debbie Cenziper on the scandal of Miami-Dade's Housing Agency and developers who were paid to build housing that never happened: House of Lies. Amazing. (Includes database work by Tim Henderson, and more reporting by Susannah Nesmith.)

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    Sad ads

    I'm being punished by the gods of neocon for things I've mentioned in this blog. There were two ads at top of the page today.....Ann Coulter Ringtones, Ann Coulter Poster.
    Thankfully, when I posted about them, they disappeared.

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    What's in a name?

    Lots of comments on Miami blogs about the new performing arts center, which has a new name, a few months before it opens: donations from Carnival Cruise Lines and the Knight Foundation come with naming rights, so the whole complex will be called the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts. 'Tacky', say some, but I don't know, sounds like a fun place to be.

    The concert hall, which was originally to be named for Carnival, is now the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall.

    The Sanford & Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House name stays the same.

    All this is not to be confused with the Carnival Center opening soon in St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands.

    (Photo from Miami Herald webcam taken 5 minutes ago. Check the webcam for current photos. Someone in the newsroom needs to adjust the cameras. Nice to see those summer clouds over the Everglades, though....)

    Keeping watch on Hezbollah

    A good resource to remember: Counterterrorism Blog. Among the interesting things they've posted recently, a list of Hizballah Activity in North America, from lawsuits around the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

    Also interesting: Douglas Farah predicts fallout in Bosnia, where Hezbollah has close relations with the Islamists in that country. Original on Farah's blog.

    Meanwhile, the New York Sun reports a Saudi Wahhabi sheik has pronouced Fatwa against Hezbollah.

    In The Times: Britain fears assault on Hezbollah will backfire.

    Meanwhile, after an uproar over a photo of little Israeli girls writing on missiles due to be shot towards Lebanon, an explanation from Lisa Goldman about how the picture was taken is putting the story in perspective and getting lots of links.

    Reaping what Bush sowed?

    Saving those embryos

    100 people a day.

    That's the number of Iraqi civilians being killed.

    Summary of UN Human Rights report on civilian casualties in Iraq, from ReliefWeb.

    Fulltext PDF of the report.

    Total dead now: at least 39,000, according to Iraq Body Count.

    (Oh, and of course, 22 U.S. military dead this month so far. More stats from Bizgrrl on KnoxViews, via

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Blogging ho-hum

    I didn't link to the latest Pew Internet report on blogging, and Rick at Stuck on the Palmetto explains why this report seems pretty meaningless -- even more than I guessed.

    Interesting that the Miami Herald wrote about it and could only mention one local blogger, Val at Babalu (maybe because he was the first local blogger the Herald wrote about, a while back).

    Thinking about Lebanon

    A few things stand out in the flood of news and opinion:

    Lexis Nexis News is so obviously a place to start. Here's a source of free news from a source that big media companies pay a lot of money for. Among the categories you can drill down to: Lebanon, Hezbollah, Gaza, evacuations, Haifa, Hamas, Syria, and Who is Hezbollah? which happens to be a McClatchy service story (still identified in Nexis as Knight Ridder Washington Bureau and KRT News Service. Boy these company changes wreak havoc with online archives.) (LexisNexis reminder from Cyberjournalist.)

    Electronic Lebanon, from Electronic Intifada. Get the news from the Lebanese side.

    In the Party of God, a New Yorker story from 2002, about Hezbollah's plans to expand the conflict with Israel.

    For links and background: Wikipedia's entry on the 2006 War between Israel and Lebanon. So popular it's slow to load, and I expect the back and forth editing from both sides is chaotic. This might be a story in itself.

    Israel and Palestine: A Brief History from Mideast Web, for the Israeli side of the story (suggested by a Metafilter poster).

    Lots of bloggers pointing to Juan Cole's posting on Bush's overheard comments on Syria:
    So, the whole blow-up is Syria's fault, for putting Hizbullah up to making mischief. No reference to Israeli actions in Gaza. No reference to, like, the wholesale destruction of Lebanon by the Israeli air force. And no blame for the Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora.
    ...It is a little window into the superficial, one-sided mind of the man, who has for six years been way out of his depth.
    I come away from it shaken and trembling.

    In Harper's: Silver Linings and a Cross of Gold. Is this conflict a new sign of the Rapture?

    Speaking of this, several blogs are posting links and comments about the neocons' connection to this conflict. Craig Paul Roberts in We're being set up for wider war in the Middle East. Lew Rockwell: Attack in Syria has neocon footprints. Robert Dreyfuss at Neocons rise from Mideast ashes. Neocon Watch has more links.

    Maybe we can turn the rest of the Middle East into The Big Iraq Candy Mountain.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Attacking the press

    Seems it's a trend lately, with Coulter's threats to The Times being repeated over and over, (not to mention claiming the latest white powder letter) and just a string of nasty complaints about newspapers ('treason' among them) on lots of blogs, that sound much more serious than ever before. (Makes Spiro Agnew's attacks sound positively tame.)

    Glenn Greenwald says this needs to be taken seriously: Journalists: It's time for some articles on the pro-Bush blogosphere. Greenwald links to a compilation of anti-press blog postings at Media Matters, and says:
    What type of rhetoric is one of the leaders of the pro-Bush blogosphere, Glenn Reynolds a/k/a Instapundit, a University of Tennessee law professor, promoting with his links, and himself disseminating on a regular basis? What sentiments motivate publication by Michelle Malkin of some of the most disturbing and hateful propaganda posters which can be imagined? And what causes three bland, corporate Minnesota lawyers at Powerline to routinely accuse political opponents and journalists of treason, urge their imprisonment, and engage in "rhetorical excesses too frequent to list"?
    ...When it becomes commonplace to hurl accusations of treason against domestic political opponents, or when calls for imprisonment and/or hanging of journalists and political leaders become the daily fare -- all of which is true for the pro-Bush blogosphere -- those are serious developments. And they merit discussion and examination by the media.
    ...Is there anybody who voted against the Commander-in-Chief who can remain free?

    Speaking of one of these bloggers, Michelle Malkin chimes in with a complaint that conservative bloggers aren't showing up enough on sites like Digg, and starts a campaign to get her posts, and other conservatives', 'dug'.

    Oh, really. So then why is her blog, plus Little Green Footballs, and Powerline listed on Blogpulse's top blogs and top posts? (Along with Greenwald's post and Kos...)

    Every woman's nighmare...

    That 'cool' alpha male guy who thinks it's OK to come up behind you and rub your shoulders. Angela Merkel didn't like it, obviously.
    Links to comments at Crooks and Liars. Wonkette links to a series of photos from the German press. Taylor Marsh has translations and more comments.
    (See Not News posting below.)

    Tracking what they're saying

    In the Poynter's E-Media Tidbits column, Amy Gahran points to a new tool from Blogpulse called Conversation Tracker (sorry, link fixed now). This one is worth looking more at. You put in a topic or the URL of a story or posting, and Tracker shows you every other blog posting that linked to it. Gahran recommends it for news media to track the conversations around their stories. Seems it would be a great ego tool too.
    As an example, here's the conversation on the 'overpaid White House staffers' story.
    (It also might be a good tool for bloggers to see if a story's already been discussed. This posting had been commented on for a few days before I linked it...and my post isn't here.)

    Blame newspapers for everything

    Fun posting on Marc Fisher's blog on, using a database created by research star Derek Willis, about delays on DC's Metro. Interesting to see the kinds of delays reported over the years, and the frequency, including many cases of trains overshooting the platforms, delays to allow a presidential motorcade to pass (!), and my favorite, the time the train was delayed because a newspaper was stuck in the door.

    Not news

    Boy, do I have to agree with 'Eat the Press' on this one (despite having linked to one of them).

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Local blog search

    Today Critical Miami reveals some new design and housekeeping changes, and among them something I really like: they've created a Rollyo search of local Miami-area blogs.

    What a great idea! Rollyo has tempted me for awhile, since it makes it easy to create a search engine that searches only the sites you're interested in. My problem is I don't think in categories so don't really have an application for it. But this is perfect!

    Look for the Miami blogs search at top of Critical Miami's right hand column, click on 'choose search engine'for 'Miami blogs and sites'.

    This would be worth doing for anyone who maintains local blog links, or for that matter anyone who keeps blog links on any topic.


    Think Progress looks at the list of White House staffers' pay and discovers the four most overpaid staffers.

    May be, but one of these is a director of factchecking, who makes $46,500. Seems you can hardly live on that salary in DC these days, and what's more important than factchecking (even if it isn't paid attention to anyway)?

    Lots of snarky comments here, but at least one of them gets it:
    In defence of these people: It is not their fault if they did their job, and nobody listened. Further, shouldn’t the director of fact checking be a higher paid job? I mean, it is an important research function if the President is going to… oh, sorry. Decider no likey facts.

    At least the commenters also list several other jobs that may be better candidates for 'most overpaid'.

    Monday blues

    Unfortunately my connection troubles continue. Some sites just won't load, and it took me a long time to get to a Blogger posting screen today. Makes getting anything done difficult.

    It's tempting to just ignore the news. Seems it's worse every week. But, for coverage of the Israel-Lebanon war, some good things:

    Al Tompkins has posted useful links on Morning Meeting today: What is Hezbollah? Besides links to histories of the organization (around only since 1982), there are links to current news sources in the area, to resources for futher research, and to interest groups.

    For more background on Hezbollah, a timely release of a document from the Center for Strategic and International Studies: Lebanese Security and the Hezbollah.

    (Added later:) Oh, and there's Diplomacy Monitor, from St. Thomas University in Miami, which posts original documents from governments around the world. Lots here under 'Middle East' including diplomatic messages to the Israeli and Lebanese governments from other countries, messages for foreign nationals in Israel and Lebanon from their governments, statements, speeches, etc. There are also sections on the G8 and Mubai bombings, among others. Thanks for the reminder to Gary Price.

    Everyone's talking about the open mike recording of a private conversation between G.W. Bush and Tony Blair, in which Bush suggested it would be a good idea for Hezbollah to 'stop doing this shit'. Text of a transcript is on Sky News' Adam Boulton's blog: Bush and Blair Raw and Uncut. The transcript opens up more fertile discussion areas, such as who do they call 'honey' and 'sweet', and what was the present Blair picked out for Bush?

    In just another example of the huge success the Iraq restoration is having, Agonist discusses (with photos) a project for building health centers in Iraq, with a $243 million contract awarded to Parsons. So far the project has spent $186 million and only built 8 of the contracted 142 health care centers. Photos show the work is not up to par, either.

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Weekend roundup

    I haven't posted a weekly links list in awhile. Not much new has shown up, and seems the best stuff I've been bookmarking has been some of the studies readily available in Docuticker.

    But, I've been keeping a running list so may as well post some of them.

  • Annotated Bibliography of Terrorism and Counterterrorism Research (PDF)
    From Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point.
  • A political and economic introduction to China, PDF from House of Commons library.
  • Islam: People, Culture and Politics, a bibliography from Air University library.

  • America's Best Hospitals, annual ranking from U.S. News and World Report.
  • Latinos and U.S. Foreign Policy, study from Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University.
  • The Islamic Imagery Project: Visual Motifs in Jihadi Internet PropagandaFrom Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point.
  • Many more great reports, studies, etc. at

  • StatTrek: Probability, Statistics, and Survey Sampling Includes tutorials, tools, and a statistics glossary.
  • State of the World's Refugees, 2006, annual report from UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
  • United States Military Casualty Statistics: Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

    Public Records:
  • PI Buzz is pointing out some things I hadn't seen yet, including:
  • Courthouse Direct, where, they say, you can search 50 states' property appraiser records for free (if you register); full report on a property is for a fee.
  • Virgin Islands Recorder of Deeds Free index search covers 1999-present; fee for display.

  • The Independent Journalist, resources for freelancers from SPJ.
  • Big Ten Media Companies, profiles from The Nation.

  • New York Times Financial Glossary.
  • Oil Industry Profit Review 2005.
  • U.S. Trade Deficit and the Impact of Rising Oil Prices.
  • The Zoom List creates company profiles from web info.

  • 30 things you didn't know you could do on the Internet from PC World.

  • Attractors a fun time waster.
  • Gaping Void Widget: put one on your website.
  • Friday, July 14, 2006

    So how's it going in Baghdad?

    While the world focuses on Israel, Lebanon, Mubai, Boston and New York, things are really not going very well in Baghdad. Some examples:

    'Riverbend', who writes the Baghdad Burning blog, is desperate. The summer is going badly and all signs point to worse conditions. On top of everything, she lost a dear friend in a recent ethnic massacre. Any hope she had for the peacekeeping force doing good is gone:
    Why don't the Americans just go home? They've done enough damage and we hear talk of how things will fall apart in Iraq if they 'cut and run', but the fact is that they aren't doing anything right now. How much worse can it get? People are being killed in the streets and in their own homes- what's being done about it? Nothing. It's convenient for them- Iraqis can kill each other and they can sit by and watch the bloodshed- unless they want to join in with murder and rape.
    ...while I always thought Baghdad was one of the more marvelous cities in the world, I'm finding it very difficult this moment to see any beauty in a city stained with the blood of T. and so many other innocents…

    Even more discouraging, in The Times: Baghdad starts to collapse as its people flee a life of death.
    A local journalist told me bitterly this week that Iraqis find it ironic that Saddam Hussein is on trial for killing 148 people 24 years ago, while militias loyal to political parties now in government kill that many people every few days. But it is not an irony that anyone here has time to laugh about. They are too busy packing their bags and wondering how they can get out alive.

    More health news

    Speaking of (computer) health, my connection has been bad the last few days and seems to be getting worse. Is it all the rain we've had? Whatever, it means I can't always post things in a timely manner. Let's hope it clears up.

    And, since we posted some health news yesterday, I'll continue with a new blog today, on obesity. It's from the Rudd Center for Food Politics and Obesity at Yale, called Rudd News Bites. Good place to catch up on the latest scientific and health studies, links to news and interesting opinions. Topics include discussion of the announcement that Starbucks is offering kid-friendly drinks. How many calories in those?

    More news and interesting stuff at the Rudd Center home page. (Via Boing Boing.)

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Good stuff

    Digby hits it on the head again with a couple of relevant posts: March 7, 2003 Revisited. Turns out the French were right after all.
    And: Deja Vecu, with an excerpt from Rick Perlstein's forthcoming book, Nixonland, on the My Lai/Calley case. How things never change.

    Andrew Sullivan puts to end the discussion of whether mistreatment of enemy combatants is allowed by military rules, with this section from the Army Field Manual:
    "Humane treatment of insurgent captives should extend far beyond compliance with Article 3, if for no other reason than to render them more susceptible to interrogation. The insurgent is trained to expect brutal treatment upon capture. If, contrary to what he has been led to believe, this mistreatment is not forthcoming, he is apt to become psychologically softened for interrogation. Furthermore, brutality by either capturing troops or friendly interrogators will reduce defections and serve as grist for the insurgent's propaganda mill,"

    Much more worth reading on Sullivan's Daily Dish.

    Dan Kennedy, the Boston Phoenix writer now teaching at Northeastern (sorry, wrote Northwestern by mistake), is looking into current and previous Boston newspaper coverage of the Big Dig on his Media Nation blog, and shows that as far as the fatal collapse there the other day, it was a case of 'told you so': particularly in this one, Digging into the Big Dig.

    Speaking of local blogs, as I did a week or so ago. there's a great roundup of local blog posts in the Carolina low country on, from the Post-Courier: Postscripts: Low Country Blogs. Browsing the latest posts you can see the connection between the low country and the highlands this time of year.

    For another local blog compilation, Dan Kennedy's links to Boston Blogs.

    Oh yeah, and Digby recommends this: MMM-Peach Mint Tea.

    And, the new infallibility doctrine, via Raw Story.

    Heart health

    A couple amazing new studies to ponder about your chances of getting heart disease:

    Retinal vascular calibre and the risk of coronary heart disease related health, in Heart. This report says you can identify people with chance of developing heart disease by looking at the veins and arteries in their eyes.

    Also in Heart: Climate impacts on myocardial infarction deaths in the Athens Territory: the CLIMATE study. Live in a place with high humidity? You may be more prone.

    Both via Docuticker, which is a great place to find links to the latest studies and reports. For another place to find information about new scientific reports, see Knight Science Journalism Tracker, which links to science stories in newspapers, including various versions from different papers.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Summer diversions

    This is beautiful.
    Via Boing Boing, a lovely community project in Wisconsin: local residents reconstruct George Seurat's 'Sunday Afternoon' painting. More in FlickrBlog.

    Wired writes about the cult of Princess Leia's metal bikini. Who knew?

    Zillow, the real estate search site, now has birdseye photos of individual properties from satellite images, and features several famous homes.

    From National Journal: Who makes what in the White House? Is it possible that Karl Rove 'only' makes $165,000?

    Mumbai blasts

    Lots of big stories in the news these days but this one is leading to the creation of some sources of help online:

    The South Asia Journalists' Association, which has jumped into several disasters over the last few years, has posted Mumbai Blasts Resources, including news, blogs/wikis, and journalists or organizations to contact in the area. Among them: Mumbai Blasts Wiki, with more links.

    Wikipedia, of course, also has a entry on the Mumbai Train Bombings, with lots and lots of information and links.

    MumbaiHelp is trying to collect names of victims as well as links to organizations that can help.

    Guardian Newsblog has collected several other blog and news links related to the blasts.

    That old Castro rumor

    Eat the Press covers the latest Castro death rumor posted by Jonah Goldberg on NRO beginning to get linked around the web. Goldberg takes a hit for pushing an unconfirmed story when he has criticized other journalists for errors, according to 'Eat'. The constant Castro rumor story is old news for Miamians, who hear this about once a month, and I find no mention in the Miami Herald, of course.

    (And, of course, Babalu blog was on this one yesterday....and is still following up...)

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    The Vietnam circle

    It just keeps coming around and around and ending up in Iraq, one way or another.

    In this episode, thoughts from a column in the Salt Lake Tribune, by David R. Irvine: U.S. reaps what the Army sows. (Via Metafilter.)

    Irvine discusses Tiger Force, the secret Army unit, and how allegations of brutality were covered up by then-Ford administration staffers Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Says Irvine:
    The common thread which runs from Tiger Force through My Lai, to Guantanamo, Bagram and Abu Ghraib, to a hundred episodes of sadistic brutality inflicted by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, is the remarkable fact that the official responsibility for all these tragedies never runs higher than the lowest-level trigger-pullers or body-stackers.

    Twenty-some years later, someone leaked documents about Tiger Force to a reporter from the Toledo Blade, which led to a Pulitzer Prize winning series. One part of the series focuses on Col. David Hackworth, a unit leader, and why he was allowed to retire rather than be prosecuted for some of his actions; he isn't linked to any atrocities in the story, though. (The Metafilter posting makes note of Hackworth's connection).

    I've read a couple of David Hackworth's books and found them remarkable. His military record was amazing as he worked his way from an orphaned, unschooled, underaged recruit sent to Italy, to combat hero in Korea to Colonel in Vietnam, then anti-war speaker, columnist and author. When he died last year, he was given full military honors and buried at Arlington.

    Hackworth believed his tactics in Tiger Force were necessary and fair. He admitted to using unusual motivations, including gambling, liquor and women, to keep his men happy. He claimed the only money he took was gambling winnings. He also said the accusations were in retaliation for his outspoken statements that the Vietnam war was a mistake and unwinnable. Before his death, he criticized the Iraq war too.

    Sometimes it seems the whole Iraq war is retaliation for the anti-Vietnam War movement.


    Terrorist taunt

    In a possible answer to the question that's on everyone's mind after Sunday's World Cup finals game, The Times has deciphered just what may have been said to set French player Zidane off: Read my lips: the taunt that made Zidane snap. The denial, of course:
    “It is absolutely not true,” Materazzi said. “I did not call him a terrorist. I’m ignorant. I don’t even know what the word means. The whole world saw what happened on live TV.”

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Knight Ridder fallout

    Tim Porter posts about the Websites of the formerly Knight Ridder newspapers in his First Draft blog. What will happen to the 'orphan papers'' sites? What about Real Cities and the former KR Digital? Now if you click on a link to any KR site it goes to and sometimes gets an error message. Some of the newspaper sites, like the Miami Herald's, no longer mention Knight Ridder but don't mention McClatchy either. The Washington Bureau's website does, though.

    KR shareholders got less than was projected at the sale announcement, when all was said and done.

    All very disconcerting, especially for retirees, who are not getting much news out of this big change.

    More discussion: Grade the News; Knight Ridder Watch.

    Cargo crash investigation

    Very nice package in the Miami Herald this week on cargo airline crashes: Deadly Express. Investigative reporter Ronnie Greene spent months gathering data on crashes and determined that cargo accidents are much more common than we know, many of them fatal. The online version of the story contains audio of interviews, a photo gallery, and links to the entire three-day package of stories and sidebars.
    (I read the first story in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press yesterday, with a 'McClatchy News Service' tagline. Unnerving to see a Miami Herald reporter's name without that old familiar Knight Ridder tag.....)

    Just sayin'

    A posting on Stuck on the Palmetto shows the new Ms. Florida, Allison Kreiger, who was Miss Miami. Over the weekend up here I saw lots of pictures of the new Miss Tennessee, Blaire Pancake from Chattanooga. Both were selected over the weekend. Can you tell the difference? And, why do they both look like Kari Matchett, who plays the doctor in "Invasion"?

    Miss Florida

    Miss Tennessee

    Tracking racial extremism

    Two reports out recently which shine light on areas no one wants to know about, but which need to be exposed:

    In Leave Or Die: America's Hidden History Of Racial Expulsions, Cox News Service's Elliot Jaspin, a pioneer in computer-assisted research and reporting, studies Census data to find an appalling record of counties, mostly along the Mason-Dixon line, where blacks were forcibly or otherwise made to leave. These counties showed black populations during the decades following the Civil War, which disappeared in subsequent decades. Among them, a couple counties near here, Polk in Tennessee and Mitchell in North Carolina, where black workers arriving to work in mines and on roads were forced out.

    The Southern Povery Law Center released a study the other day, A Few Bad Men, which tracks efforts by white supremacist groups to insert their members into the U.S. military. It's scary to think our soldiers may include some who think like this:
    "Ever since my youth -- when I watched WWII footage and saw how well-disciplined and sharply dressed the German forces were -- I have wanted to be a soldier," Fain said in a Winter 2004 interview with the National Alliance magazine Resistance. "Joining the American military was as close as I could get."

    But unfortunately, not surprising considering the reports of some soldiers' actions in Iraq and other places. Among the information here, a Timeline of Extremism and the Military going back to 1953.

    (Thanks to The Scoop for the Cox link.)

    Friday, July 07, 2006


    Too much catching up to do so here is a quick listing of some things worth checking out:

    Mark Morford expresses the views of lots of us about the continuing current administration: George W. Bush Is Dead To Me
    Nation cringes as the worst president ever continues long, painful slog to the end
    . Harsh enough for you?
    Some days the pain is so searing and hot you want to cut off your own head with a nail file. Other days it is numb and pain-free and seemingly OK, to the point where you think it might finally be all gone and you allow yourself a hint of a whisper of a positive feeling, right up until you look in the mirror, and scream.

    George W. Bush is just like that.

    In Vanity Fair, Judy Bachrach tells the tale of "Duke" Cunningham and the congressional culture of corruption: Washington Babylon. Among the stories here, the expensive dinners Katherine Harris enjoyed.

    Stephen Hawking decides to go to the people to get an ageold question answered, so poses to 'Yahoo Answers': How can the human race survive the next hundred years? Good question, but the answers are pretty pathetic: 'eat, fuck and trust in Jesus' among them.

    My Way, where you can get simple news stories without the glitch and ads, is now offering free Email. No ads, no problems.

    The Washington Post has a delightful story about the years in the late '50-early '60s when Thomas Wolfe was a writer there. James Rosen read about 150 old clippings filed in the Thomas Wolfe Byline file. Great quotes.


    I blogged some during my trip this week and last but didn't do a lot. Back now but may take me a bit of time to catch up. Would like to have posted more photos but both long drives, there and back, were mostly in heavy rain. Would also like to have brought back more from the area of western NY I was in, beautiful in summer along Lake Ontario and the fruit orchards, but couldn't spend much time out. So just a few photos on the photo blog.

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    Those annoying public records

    Seems every once in awhile the question of whether public records should be public takes an amusing turn, and here's comments on a couple of those incidents:

    Ann Coulter, whose legal residency has been questioned in Palm Beach County, where she's been accused of voter fraud, is now trying to get her address stricken from public records there. Eat the Press links to local newspaper reports and blog comments (lots of comments on this posting, too.)

    Meanwhile, some bloggers are furious about a New York Times story about the fancy enclave of St. Michaels, Maryland, where Defense Secy Donald Rumsfeld and now VP Dick Cheney have homes. Like giving their addresses to the terrorists, they say. This story about it in the Washington Post is months old. Guess the Times is just a target these days.

    Power of the library

    In Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools, an article on Digital Library Cards.

    No matter how many times this is mentioned, it seems that it's worth mentioning again. If you have a library card, you probably have access to dozens of commercial databases for free. In NC, I use NCLive, and all I need to do is ask my local library for the password twice a year. It gives me anything from searchable fulltext books to the full ReferenceUSA databases of phone numbers.

    The Cool Tools article links to the NY Public Library service that anyone outside of New York can use, too, for a flat $100/year. Worth it, if your library doesn't offer as much...

    Sunday, July 02, 2006

    Murtha story

    Via Daily Pulp, more on the Sun-Sentinel story misquote of John Murtha and its ramifications from Media Matters on America: UPDATE: O'Reilly apologizes for Murtha misquote.

    For a laugh

    I added the Gaping Void Widget to the right-hand column. Can't get enough of Hugh Macleod's cartoons. However, I'm not in agreement with the latest on Gaping Void....not a cat person? Please.

    Researcher credits

    Via a post to NewsLib from NPR's Kee Malesky: The Washington Post's ombudsman Deborah Howell writes about the Post's researchers: The Post's Unsung Sleuths.

    It's the Post's researchers who seem to get mentioned most often. Other papers have great researchers too, but it seems the Post's staff gets the idea that credit is due better than any other newspaper or news organization. Long time since I was a researcher there but I'm proud of them anyway......

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    Writing help

    Poynter's been counting down the last few days to the launch of Roy Peter Clark's Writing Tools, a book now available via Amazon.

    But along with the book, there's also a blog: Writing Tools. In the early blog postings: the quick list of all 50 Writing Tools. Things like:
    44. Save string.
    For big projects, save scraps others would toss.

    45. Break long projects into parts.
    Then assemble the pieces into something whole.

    The blog and book will expand on these and add new ones.